Ideal for legal secretaries and paralegals, our Legal Research and Writing course will hone your research skills and enable you to write accurately, clearly and concisely. This course will teach you how to locate and provide information in response to a client request, including analysing information from a number of sources before composing a report.
You will also learn how to research relevant and primary sources of legal information, write up a basic summary, and draft a variety of legally binding documents under the instruction of a qualified legal practitioner.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking a legal writing course include:
- Learning how to research legal information using primary sources
- Exploring how to receive and process request information
- Studying how to request a document and confirm identity
- Gaining insights into other party’s rights to receive information
- Examining employee and barrister requests
- Understanding current and potential clients
- Learning about opposing parties and lawyers for opposing parties
- Exploring information restrictions and Australian privacy principles (APPs)
- Gaining an understanding of clarifying clients’ needs and establishing relevant criteria
- Studying legal enquiries, seeking a referral and how to assist with a complaint
- Gaining insights into psychological interests and response methods and format
- Examining the type of documents needed and the number of responses required
- Understanding policies, procedures, budget, timeframe and process
- Learning about policies, procedures, contractual obligations and protocols
- Exploring skills knowledge, how to identify information sources and research relevant sources
- Studying court documents, regulations, by-laws, treaties conventions and media sources
- Examining misplaced files, dealing with difficult people, lack of authority and technical difficulties
- Understanding how to prepare and locate extract information and implement resolutions to problems
- Learning about security and confidentiality and how to store and maintain the integrity of information
- Exploring statistical, inferential, qualitative, descriptive, critical and objective analyses
- Studying how to plan and write a clear and concise report, check it for accuracy and obtain sign-off
- Gaining insights into how to attach file names and matter numbers and forward the report to a client
- Understanding how to produce complex legal documents
- Learning about document types, budget, time frames and processes
- Exploring document management software and email programs
- Studying document design and structure and legislative requirements
- Gaining insights into file numbers, numerical address information and linking data
- Examining timelines, flow charts and grant charts
- Understanding cover pages, how to name documents, watermarks and final printing
- Learning about the Australian standards
- Exploring policies and procedures
- Gaining an understanding of maintenance and security
- Studying accessibility and safety
The Difference Between a Paralegal and a Legal Secretary
Paralegals often perform attorney duties under a qualified legal practitioner’s supervision, including conducting research, preparing arguments, interviewing witnesses, drafting legal writing documents in simpler terms for clients, and compiling evidence to be used in court. They are also able to specialise in certain areas like family, criminal, real estate and immigration law and bill clients for their work, which legal secretaries can’t.
Legal secretaries predominantly carry out more administrative tasks for those in the legal sector. Their daily tasks can include diary organisation, preparing court forms and transcribing interviews.
Top Skills of a Legal Secretary
The role of a legal secretary typically revolves around performing administrative duties for governments, courts and lawyer’s offices. Here are the key skills that are relevant to the sector today:
This includes preparing presentations, creating documents, building spreadsheets, auditing timesheets, managing invoice, maintaining calendars and tracking deadlines using a variety of software packages.
In addition to face-to-face contact, legal secretaries communicate by telephone, email and video conferencing systems, and should have emotional intelligence and be adept with displaying phone etiquette, initiative and formality.
Legal writing is an integral part of the legal secretary’s job and skills in demand include email composition, attention to detail, strong grammar skills and being able to follow strict document formats.
Top organisational skills legal secretaries possess include note-taking, the processing of legal documents, organising affidavits, and managing calendars, files and confidential information.
In addition to a fast typing speed, active listening skills and a knowledge of legal terminology are required to transcribe voice dictation files. This also involves the use of audio recording devices and word processing software.
Attention to Detail
Legal secretaries handle the minute details of daily law practice, so should be proactive, accurate and proficient in auditing, data entry and inductive and deductive reasoning.
Professional legal secretaries know how to juggle competing priorities and multiple assignments. This involves skills like prioritisation, time management, scheduling, delegation and being able to work under pressure.
Legal secretaries perform lots of research, which can involve gathering information from the internet and other sources, and involve data analysis, reasoning, noticing trends and knowing how to use research law software.
The 13 Australian Privacy Principles
The cornerstone of the privacy protection framework in the Privacy Act 1988 is the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs). These apply to any organisation or agency the Privacy Act covers. There are 13 of them and they govern rights, standards and obligations around:
- the use, collection and disclosure of personal information
- an agency or organisation’s accountability and governance
- correction and integrity of personal information
- the rights of individuals to access their personal information
Because the APPs are principles-based law, they give an agency or organisation the flexibility to tailor their personal information handling practices to the diverse needs of individuals and their business models. A course in legal writing will arm you with knowledge of the APPs and how a breach can lead to regulatory penalties and action. The 13 APPs are:
- APP 2 – Anonymity and pseudonymity. This requires APP entities to give individuals the option of not identifying themselves, or of using a pseudonym.
- APP 3 – Collection of solicited personal information. This outlines when an APP entity can collect personal information that is solicited. It applies higher standards to the collection of sensitive information.
- APP 4 – Dealing with unsolicited personal information. This outlines how APP entities must deal with unsolicited personal information.
- APP 5 – Notification of the collection of personal information. This outlines when and in what circumstances an APP entity that collects personal information must tell an individual about certain matters.
- APP 6 – Use or disclosure of personal information. This outlines the circumstances in which an APP entity may use or disclose personal information that it holds.
- APP 7 – Direct marketing. An organisation may only use or disclose personal information for direct marketing purposes if certain conditions are met.
- APP 8 – Cross-border disclosure of personal information. This outlines the steps an APP entity must take to protect personal information before it is disclosed overseas.
- APP 9 – Adoption, use or disclosure of government related identifiers. This outlines the limited circumstances when an organisation may adopt a government related identifier of an individual as its own identifier, or use or disclose a government related identifier of an individual.
- APP 10 – Quality of personal information. An APP entity must take reasonable steps to ensure the personal information it collects is accurate, up to date and complete. An entity must also take reasonable steps to ensure the personal information it uses or discloses is accurate, up to date, complete and relevant with regard to the purpose of the use or disclosure.
- APP 11 – Security of personal information. An APP entity must take reasonable steps to protect personal information it holds from misuse, interference and loss, and from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. An entity has obligations to destroy or de-identify personal information in certain circumstances.
- APP 12 – Access to personal information. Outlines an APP entity’s obligations when an individual requests to be given access to personal information held about them by the entity. This includes a requirement to provide access unless a specific exception applies.
- APP 13 – Correction of personal information. Outlines an APP entity’s obligations in relation to correcting the personal information it holds about individuals.
2020, Australian Privacy Principles quick reference, Australian Government Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
Gain the confidence to research and write legal documentation to meet legal requirements with our Legal Research and Writing course!