Judy Howard (pictured), who has worked in legal support roles for more than 39 years, told Lawyers Weekly that the absence of an association representing legal secretaries in NSW needs to be addressed. She claimed Australia should take cues from the US, which has a dedicated body called Legal Secretaries International (LSI).
A member of LSI, Howard explained that the American association enables legal secretaries to become certified specialists in various areas of law.
“There is no professional recognition [in NSW] for the knowledge and skills learnt by the secretary through work experience,” she said. “I am confident the LSI accreditation program could be modified to suit the NSW legal system and be recognised by the legal industry here.”
The benefit of industry-recognised certification to legal secretaries, according to Howard, is that “existing and prospective employers would have a better understanding of their knowledge and competence”.
Firms stand to benefit too, with certification assuring clients of the competency of the lawyer’s support team.
To roll out the certification, Howard proposed the establishment of a Legal Secretaries Association in NSW.