The matters legal professionals deal with are highly sensitive, and confidentiality is therefore essential in order to protect the rights of clients. Ideal for legal secretaries and law clerks, our Confidentiality and Security Within the Legal Environment course will give you insights into how to deal with sensitive information in a legal environment.
You will learn about policies and procedures, codes of conduct, honesty and integrity, and morals and ethics. You will also study the Privacy Act, the Australian Privacy Principles, relevant state and territory legislation, and how to prepare, store and secure confidential client records and related information.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking paralegal courses online include:
- Learning about content
- Exploring errors and grammar
- Studying file and matters numbers
- Gaining insights into format
- Examining timelines
- Understanding limitations
- Learning how to keep paperwork up to date
- Exploring policy procedures and codes of conduct
- Studying the relevant state and territory legislation
- Gaining insights into trust money
- Examining cost disclosure and billing
- Understanding progress reports
- Learning about the methods for organising a file
- Exploring conflicts of interest
- Studying how to treat clients with respect
- Gaining insights into cultural differences
- Examining trust and respect in the workplace
- Understanding honesty and integrity
- Learning about professional conduct
- Exploring firm policies and procedures
- Studying morals and ethics
- Gaining insights into trust account monies
- Examining cash payments
- Understanding receipting methods
- Learning bout confidentiality procedures
- Exploring what is and what is not disclosable
- Studying the Privacy Act
- Gaining insights into what information cannot be disclosed
- Examining Australian privacy principles (APPs)
- Understanding non-disclosable information
Key Skills of Legal Secretaries
Legal secretaries typically work for courts, governments or legal professionals, and their day-to-day tasks may include:
Tech-savvy legal secretaries perform a variety of computer-based tasks including preparing presentations, managing invoices, building spreadsheets, auditing timesheets, creating and typing documents, tracking deadlines and maintaining calendars.
Top-notch communication skills are essential in this role as legal secretaries typically interact daily with vendors, paralegals, attorneys, judicial personnel, opposing counsel and colleagues and clients.
Legal secretaries are frequently responsible for drafting file memos and routine correspondence, and proofreading legal documents for briefs, pleadings and transactional purposes. Therefore, attention to detail and strong writing and grammar skills are essential.
Legal secretaries typically maintain and update files, manage projects, look after calendars, track multiple deadlines, organise events and schedule meetings. They should be able to multitask and manage confidential information.
Transcription skills and a fast typing speed are vital to secretarial practice. In addition, active listening skills are required to understand voice dictation files.
Legal secretaries are familiar with all things pertaining to court proceedings and law. They understand the nuance of legal procedures and know how to create and format discovery, pleadings and transactional documents.
Legal secretaries perform research for a range of tasks including gathering client information, locating expert witnesses and researching the competition. Those who work in small law offices may also perform some paralegal duties including cite-checking, legal research and accessing case law.
Australian Federal Privacy Laws
If you choose to study paralegal courses online, you’ll no doubt come into contact with a number of regulations, Privacy Laws and the Privacy Act, all of which provide access to laws of the Australian Commonwealth relevant to privacy.
The primary statute is the Privacy Act 1988, and the original version was applied only to the Commonwealth public sector. The Act was amended in 1990 to apply to the credit reporting industry, and then it was further amended in 2000 to apply to much of the private sector.
The original statute was accepted, the 1990 credit reporting amendment was considered to be reasonably strong, but many in the profession thought the 2000 private sector amendment was wholly inadequate. However, the 2012 amendments made the Privacy Act what was cited to be “the most privacy-hostile data protection law in the world”.
Other regulations around the area of privacy include:
Regulation of Social Control Mechanisms:
- Surveillance Laws
- Attempts to Achieve a National ID Scheme
- Law Enforcement Data
- Taxation and Social Welfare
- Social Behaviour
Regulation in Particular Sectors:
- Financial Transactions
- Freedom of Information
- Human Rights
- The Possibility of a Tort of Invasion of Privacy
Ethics in Law
Ethics are the moral principles that govern people’s behaviour, and for legal practitioners, they take on an added level of importance. This is because those in this sector are subject to high ethical standards due to the prominent positions they hold in the administration of justice. Ethics act as a guide to the proper behaviour for lawyers and provide guidance on ethical values, common law and professional conduct.
Paralegal courses online will introduce you to the regulations of the profession, including those cited by the Law Council of Australia. They are a major contributor and participant in shaping regulations throughout Australia, and work at both State and Territory levels. Their work involves Legal Profession Acts and Legal Profession Uniform Law Schemes, and they also advocate on federal proposals that affect the legal profession. In addition to this, they have developed the Australian Solicitors’ Conduct Rules.
In the current federal arena, the Law Council is a strong advocate against the extension of the Counter-Terrorism Financing and Anti-Money Laundering regime’s regulatory requirements to lawyers. Central to their advocacy is a concern that the legislation’s “suspicious matter” reporting obligations are inconsistent with fundamental principles and common law doctrines that underpin the professional functions and obligations of lawyers in Australia. They deem the client/lawyer relationships, client confidentiality, client legal privilege and ultimately the independence of the legal profession to be at risk.
The Law Council’s Policy Division works collaboratively with State and Territory Bar Associations and Law Societies and its other Sections and constituent bodies on developing and promoting regulation that is consistent, efficient, and effective. This includes regulations around:
- Human Rights
- Access to Justice
- Criminal Law and National Security
- Regulation of the Profession and Ethics
- Advancing of the Profession
- International Law
- Business Law
Australian Privacy Principles (APPs)
The Australian Privacy Principles (or APPs) are the cornerstone of the privacy protection framework in the Privacy Act 1988, and they are important guidelines for those working in the legal sector, including those who have undertaken paralegal courses online.
They apply to any organisation or agency the Privacy Act covers, and they are principles-based law. This gives an agency or organisation flexibility to tailor their personal information handling practices to the diverse needs of clients and their own business models. A breach of an APP is an “interference with the privacy of an individual”, and can lead to regulatory penalties. The thirteen APPs govern rights, standards and obligations around:
- the collection, use and disclosure of personal information‘
- an organisation or agency’s governance and accountability
- integrity and correction of personal information
- the rights of individuals to access their personal information
Gain the important skills you need to use confidentiality principles and practices in a legal department or firm with paralegal courses online including our Confidentiality and Security Within the Legal Environment course.