Take a first step toward working in the Law.
This course can be valuable for anyone who needs to work within a Legal office, Paralegal or Legal Support situation (eg. Law office staff, Paralegals, Legal Assistants, Solicitors, Law Professors, Legal Receptionists/Secretaries, Private Investigators, Authorised Government Inspectors and Officers, Law Enforcement Officers and many others).
How to Get Your Career Started:
If you haven't worked in either an office or legal situation before, you are wise to take a two pronged approach to improving your chances to work in this industry:
1. Enrol in a course. If you have limited time to study, start with our 100 hour Legal Terminology short course. You can always upgrade to a full certificate later on. If you have the time though; consider enrolling in this full certificate from the start. Obviously, the more you study, the more your opportunities for employment are advanced.
2. Get some experience. Qualifications alone are rarely enough to win out in a job interview or a contest for promotion once you are in a legal office. Volunteering with community based organisations can be a great way to get some initial experience, particularly if the organisation has a relevance to law (eg. Neighbourhood Crime Watch committees, Victims of Crime support bodies, Local Government bodies, etc). Volunteering can impress potential employers, and help you stand out from your competition.
Note that each module in the Certificate in Legal Practice is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
The course covers the following in 8 lessons:
- The Modern Office: Scope of office work, procedures, the home office vs commercial premises, etc.
- Communication Systems: Using the phone, business letters, faxes, couriers, postage, etc.
- Interpersonal Communications
- Phone Skills
- Writing Letters and Other Documents:Writing Letters and Reports. Structure of a report, memos, business letters.
- Computer Applications: Scope & uses of computers, types of computers, software types, peripherals, word processing, CD Roms, Modems, setting up and care of a PC.
- Office Organisation and Procedures: Stationary, Office furniture, Paper specifications, Filing & record keeping etc.
- Health and Safety in the Office: Office layout and organization, security.
There are eight lessons in this module as follows:
- Scope and Nature of Legal Terminology
- The Legal Workplace –People & Processes
- Legal systems –Australia, UK, International Law etc.
- Contract & Business Law
- Property Law - Buying & selling property, Conveyancing, Intellectual Property
- Wills, Probate, Estate Law
- Criminal Law
- Other –Tort law, Family Law, Civil Actions, Bankruptcy, Insurance, Accidents Compensation
There are ten lessons consisting of -
- Introduction to Criminal Psychology
- Psychological approaches to understanding crime
- Psychology and understanding serious crimes
- Mental disorder and crime 1 – Learning disabilities and crime
- Mental Disorder and Crime 2 - Psychopathy
- Gender and Crime
- Youth and Crime
- Psychology and the Police
- Psychology in the Courtroom
- Psychology and Crime Prevention
Working in a Legal Support Role
Working in legal services, goes well beyond just being a lawyer. A knowledge of the law is critical to a wide range of industries, from law enforcement and security work, to government services and business operations.
This course may open improve employment opportunities across a broad range of legal support roles.
Working as a Legal Receptionist
Legal receptionists work at the front desk of a law firm. They are the first port of call for client and visitors coming to or contacting the law firm. Because of this, it is important the legal receptionist projects a good representation of the law firm – being well presented, professional and articulate.
Different sizes and types of law firms will have different requirements of the legal receptionist. In smaller firms the legal receptionist may double as the legal secretary. Some duties include:
- Meeting and greeting clients and visitors that come in to the law firm.
- Answering phone calls and taking messages or forwarding on to other staff members.
- Screening incoming calls to determine whether the caller needs to speak to an attorney. Forwarding to an appropriate attorney.
- Administrative tasks
- May be required to draft correspondence, such as letters to attorneys, courts or clients.
- Scheduling appointments.
- Creating files for clients.
- May be required to handle billing.
- Providing general information to the public.
- Serving coffee or tea to visitors and clients.
- Office tasks such as managing office supplies, scanning, photocopying, faxing and filing.
Legal receptionists are employed by law firms, government offices, legal departments and courthouses. They will generally work during business hours, and not be required to work overtime, evenings, or weekends. Legal receptionist work is relatively stable, and employment opportunities for receptionists in general are set to stay constant, or increase.
Legal receptionists tend to earn more than general receptionists as they do specialised work, however their salary level will largely depend on the size of the firm, the firms location, the receptionists level of experience, amongst other things. Generally speaking a legal receptionist will earn a low to middle level income (which can be a higher income depending on the previously mentioned factors), with the added bonus of a relatively stable employment.
Working as a legal receptionist can be a foot in the door to working as a supervisor, legal secretary, or paralegal. Because the legal receptionist communicates with everyone in the law firm, as well as everyone who deals with the law firm they will have opportunities for networking.
Risks and Challenges
Working as a legal receptionist can be stressful at times. Working at a busy law firm with strict deadlines can create stress. The legal receptionist will also be required to deal with people who are experiencing stressful circumstances which can be challenging.
A legal receptionist will spend the majority of the day sitting down at a computer, so may experience issues associated with that, such as headaches, lethargy, eyestrain, and repetitive strain injury.
How to become a Legal Receptionist:
Whilst there is not a specification education requirement to be a legal receptionist, it is generally preferred that the candidate has completed a high school qualification, as well as preferably some formal secretarial or office training. Law firms will also often look for someone who has had experience working in a law office, or in a similar type of role.
To become a legal receptionist, then, it is important to try to gain work experience within a law firm in some capacity, even if it is unpaid work initially.
Maybe of greater importance are the types of skills you will need to work successfully as a legal receptionist. These include:
- Knowledge of office practices
- Familiarity with the legal system and legal terminology
- Computer skills
- Communication skills – both verbal and written expression and comprehension
- Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills
- A polished appearance
- Attention to detail
- Respectful of confidential information