As a member of the Law Society’s In-house lawyers division you may well find yourself with the additional responsibilities of the company secretary (even if this may be hidden under the guise of “Head of Governance”).

Perhaps you sought these responsibilities out, or perhaps you have had them thrust upon you in a hurried moment when your organisation was looking for a capable pair of hands. Either way, you will have found yourself having to do things for which you may have little preparatory training and few sources of direct support – all the while still being expected to cover all the duties of your previous “day job”!

You might be aware of the ICSA’s Chartered Secretary qualification, but say to yourself “I’d like to become properly qualified, but I just don’t have the time.”

Members of ICSA have access to a wealth of governance and company secretarial guidance across all sectors (private and public limited company, NHS, education, not-for-profit, etc.) via our online knowledgebase, regular technical updates, member magazine and technical helpline. You will also have opportunities to network with and learn from like-minded professionals at both a local and national level through branch CPD and social events, conferences and training. As a joint in-house lawyer and company secretary, you would therefore have support from the two professional bodies dedicated to ensuring the highest professional practice and the best careers for their members.

As for not having time, there’s good news. As practising lawyers, you are exempt from some of the modules and exams on the full Chartered Secretary’s Qualifying Scheme (CSQS), as we recognise that through your legal qualification and work experience you will have developed the skills and knowledge that we recognise as equivalent to passing our exams.

The table below shows how this works:

Module titleUnder 5 years post-qualifying experienceMore than 5 years post-qualifying experience
Financial Reporting & Analysis Exemption Exemption
Applied Business Law Exemption Exemption
Corporate Law Exemption Exemption
Strategy in Practice Exemption Exemption
Corporate Governance   Exemption
Financial Decision-making   Exemption
Corporate Secretarial Practice    
Case Study    

(Note that CSQS is pitched at final year undergraduate and first year master’s level and is broadly the equivalent of a graduate diploma.)

On completion, because of your post-qualifying experience, you will be eligible to progress straight to full Chartered Secretary status, either as an Associate (ACIS), with six years’ experience, or a full Fellowship (FCIS) with eight years. Fellowship is the stand-out marker that you are a leading company secretarial and governance professional.

Even without undertaking further study you can still access many of the benefits of membership – access to technical content, regular magazine, networking and training - by becoming an affiliate of ICSA. This way you can “try before you buy” – that is, experience the help and support we offer before becoming fully qualified.

No matter which route you decide to go down, ICSA is here to support you with access to relevant expertise and knowledge, and you will be able to show your professionalism and commitment to your current or future employer.