Legal Secretary

Legal secretaries perform secretarial duties in legal firms or magistrates’ offices. They handle a wide variety of specialised tasks that require knowledge of legal terminology and procedures.

Their duties would include the preparation of legal documentation and correspondence such as subpoenas, summonses, complaints, appeals, responses, pretrial agreements and motions under the supervision of a lawyer. They might be required to assist with legal research, such as citations in legal briefs and verifying quotes.

Their work is similar to that of other secretaries and receptionists in other organisations as far as administrative duties are concerned. They mail, fax, or arrange delivery of legal correspondence to clients, witnesses and court officials, receive and place telephone calls, schedule and make appointments. They make photocopies of correspondence, documents and other printed matter, prepare and distribute invoices to bill clients or pay account expenses, draft and type office memos.  They need to complete various forms, such as accident reports, trial and courtroom requests, and applications for clients.  They work on computers, do research, such as reviewing legal publications, and performing database searches to identify laws and court decisions relevant to pending cases.  They submit articles and information from searches to attorneys for review and approval for use and prepare statistical reports.  they attend legal meetings, such as client interviews, hearings or depositions, and take notes,  and may supervise other clerical staff.

They may be expected to assist with conference arrangements, training juniors, receiving visitors and providing information to the general public. Some legal secretaries specialise further in the legal field. They usually work in comfortable offices with other legal staff such as lawyers, conveyancers, legal assistants and clerks.

Personal Requirements

  • proficient in typing / word-processing
  • good at spelling and grammar
  • knowledge of software applications
  • tactful, with good interpersonal skills
  • be discrete, with sound judgement
  • have excellent organisational ability
  • be adaptable and versatile
  • be ethical, especially with confidential matters
  • excellent communicator

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Diploma: Legal Secretary - TVET Colleges


  • magistrates’ offices
  • legal firms

Further Information

Law Society of South Africa 
304 Brooks Street
Menlo Park
Tel: (012) 366-8800

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to legal secretaries in your area and ask permission to observe them at work
  • if possible, try to get part-time work with a firm of lawyers or magistrates

Programmes by Study Institutions

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