Working in the legal sector with GCSEs (or similar)

You can start from school or college doing basic clerical work in law firms, with barristers, in legal advice services, in courts, in businesses or in the public sector.

You will need to be accurate in your work, be trustworthy and work confidentially. You will have good communication skills and basic IT skills.

Example jobs

Legal secretary
Dealing with letters and helping to prepare legal documents such as wills. You will need good ICT skills and to understand legal terms.

Court usher
Preparing the courtroom and keeping order during court sessions.

Verbatim reporter
Using computers to record accurately what is said during a court case.

Paralegal
Can work in residential conveyancing, personal injury or debt recovery as a conveyancing assistant, claims handler or litigation assistant.

Case study

I initially joined the police service because I liked the variety of work offered, and this is still what I like about it. I cannot think of another profession that offers such variety and challenge...

Neil Baskerville, criminal justice inspector at Cheshire Police

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

Pay levels graph

Typical working conditions

  • Work will be based in an office or law court. It can be fast-paced and accuracy is important.
  • You will working in a team of colleagues and will also work with the public.
  • Working hours are Monday to Friday, 35–40 hours per week. Some part-time work is possible.

Qualifications needed

For clerical jobs you will need GCSEs at grades A–C and good ICT skills.

You can do an apprenticeship in courts, tribunals and prosecutions at Levels 2 and 3 and in legal services at Level 3.

Work-related qualifications are often required, for example a Level 2 paralegal diploma. There are Level 2 and 3 certificates and diplomas available for legal secretaries.

Career path

It is possible to work your way up the ladder with experience and by undergoing training. Promotion prospects are better in larger companies. Further training such as advanced apprenticeships at Level 3 can lead to technician or supervisory level jobs. You may progress to a role such as administration executive, administration officer, administration team leader, personal assistant (PA) or secretary, perhaps in a specialist field such as legal or medical secretary.

Useful links

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Skills for Justice

National Association of Licensed Paralegals