Secretarial skills are vital for bookkeepers and paralegals (or “legal secretaries”)
A bookkeeper maintains a record of any transactions made by the company, organises financial documents such as receipts and invoices, balances accounts, and other financial management tasks. A secretary will be well suited to accomplish this sort of organisation, but will need to learn the ins and outs of the company’s financial system, as well as the skills needed to effectively calculate and record finances.
The skills needed for a bookkeeper can be learned after hours, and with some shifting about, the secretary-turned-
A bookkeeper will need to have an aptitude for numbers, so if you are a secretary dreaming of advancing in your career, yet you have difficulty with long division, you may want to consider a different avenue for self-improvement, such as becoming a paralegal.
Becoming a paralegal practitioner will require familiarising oneself with the law, which will take time, but is worth it in the long run. This qualification means being able to work alongside practising lawyers, and possibly being involved in preparing for cases.
Paralegals can do almost anything an attorney can, apart from appear in court and give advice to clients, but they can interview clients, draw up legal documentation and assist in researching cases. They can also act as a legal resource in a corporate environment, especially in the case of insurance companies and banks. And for all this, they are paid far better than secretaries.
With a little extra study and some hard work, a personal assistant is able to upskill to a position of more responsibility, heightened interest and increased earnings. Bookkeepers and paralegals are both assets to any business, and they will be treated as such.
The part-time University of Cape Town Bookkeeping and Paralegal Practitioner course starts on 3 October 2011. For more information visit www.getsmarter.co.za
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