How Did the Legal Profession Change in 2020?

We want you to tell us how the legal profession has changed in the past year. Take part in TotallyLegal’s annual audience survey to have your say.

Last year was more chaotic and tumultuous than most others in recent history, with individuals and organisations across the world feeling unique and largely negative impacts from 2020’s many twists and turns.

TotallyLegal – the UK’s leading legal jobs board and a trusted partner of ILSPA – wants to learn and in turn share more with you about how the legal profession changed in 2020.

How has the job market shifted? What has been the impact on salaries and bonuses? How many legal professionals were put on furlough?

To answer these questions and many others, we are looking for Lawyers, Solicitors, Paralegals, In-House Counsel, Legal Secretaries and other legal professionals of all titles and levels to divulge the details of their working lives and the effect 2020 had on their careers.

We will also ask about recurring themes and trends identified in previous TotallyLegal audience surveys.

Set an Incompatible Goal

One way to shift your character – and your life – in a new direction is to set a goal that’s incompatible with the limitations of your current character.

In other words, set a goal that you would never set. Then work diligently to pursue and achieve that goal.

Thinking you can’t do something because it’s out of character for you is still just a thought. You can change your thoughts, but sometimes it’s easier to change your actions and behaviours and let your thoughts play catch-up. Sometimes thoughts of who you are just get in your way and slow you down.

When you try to change yourself at the level of thought first, sometimes that works, but other times it will just lead you into a circular trap of thinking, thinking and more thinking – and never actually doing, exploring and experiencing.

Pay special attention to the desires you tend to quickly suppress, especially those with respect to ambitious goals and lifestyle experiences.

What experiences are other people having that you secretly envy?

What do you secretly daydream about doing or experiencing, but could never tell anyone about?

Have you ever thought about pulling one of those crazy ideas out of the “dream space” and setting it as a real goal to accomplish? Other people have already done that.

How to Stay Connected to Your Colleagues While Working From Home

With a third national lockdown in force, many legal professionals are feeling increasingly distant from their colleagues. Our recent Working From Home Survey found that 22% of legal professionals think the biggest challenge of remote working is not seeing their colleagues every day. Additionally, 21% of our audience feel less productive when working from home, and 36% of these blame their reduced output on infrequent opportunities to collaborate with colleagues.

So, what steps can we take to ensure we’re staying connected to our colleagues and remaining productive while working remotely?

TotallyLegal has come up with four tips to help legal professionals stay connected to their colleagues, create opportunities for collaboration and socialise virtually when working from home. 

Tip 1: Schedule regular team meetings 

How to Get Your Career Back on Track After a COVID-19 Redundancy

The COVID-19 pandemic has created some difficult times for people around the world, but those who have lost their jobs due to the resulting economic downturn are among those who have been most seriously impacted. If this relates to you, these developments can feel devastating – but there are steps that you can take to accelerate your journey back to employment.

In most cases, those who have been made redundant as a result of COVID-19 will not have lost their jobs due to any problems with their job performance or capabilities. As such, even though the current jobs market may seem demanding, it is important to remember that your credentials are just as impressive as they ever were.

Those in this position should take a moment to consider a few simple pieces of advice that could potentially help them get their career back on track as soon as possible.

Make the right preparations when leaving your current role

If you have only recently received the news that you will be made redundant from your role, you are likely to still be experiencing some shock. However, it may be helpful to realise that there are steps you can take to ease your transition into the next phase of your career, even before you leave your current post.

How to Complete ILSPA's Achievement Tests

If you are currently studying a Legal Secretary course with ILSPA, there is a high chance you will be required to submit at least one achievement test as part of your course. Achievement tests are designed to assess your legal knowledge and for you to show how well you have understood the course material. For this reason, they are a very important part of your course. Your achievement test result is a reflection of your grasp of a particular area of law and goes towards your final grade.

Here is some advice on how best to complete the achievement tests.

1. Study the course material thoroughly

This may seem obvious, but it is surprising how some people jump ahead to the test without studying properly. The goal of the achievement test is to assess your understanding of the information provided. You need to read (and reread) your course material until you feel confident in your understanding of it. Once you feel ready, you may take the test. As the tests are not timed, you may take as long as you need to complete them. Also, the tests are not done under examination conditions and are open book. This means that you may refer to your course material while answering the questions.

The ABC of Stress Relief in 5 Minutes

Here we are in the first month of a brand new year. What lies ahead of us is a clean slate of 12 months in which to seize opportunities, accomplish goals and reach new heights in our professional and personal development.  

If your goal is to have a calm, productive and joyous 2021, you may have been looking into ways to manage stress more effectively. In that case, we have excellent news for you: it is possible to find calm in a stressful situation. We may not be able to completely get rid of all the stressors in our lives, but with a few clever tricks, stress can be managed.

In this article, we will be sharing a quick stress relief technique with you, but first, consider that there are four sources of stress: the environment, social stressors, physiological stressors and (the most important one) our thoughts. 

1. The environment: noise, air pollution, pollen, traffic, the weather, etc.

2. Social stressors: the things that make demands on your time and attention. For instance, deadlines, urgent meetings, presentations to give, interpersonal conflicts, finances, the barrage of emails and social media notifications.

Freshfields Assistant Named Legal PA of the Year

On the evening of Thursday 12 November, 20 of the UK’s most talented Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants and Office Managers celebrated their successes at the ninth annual PA of the Year Awards.

Hosted by niche business support job board SecsintheCity, the awards were held virtually for the first time. Logging on to Zoom for the awards ceremony, all the hopeful finalists and their supportive bosses fully embraced the event’s traditional black-tie dress code.

Tanya Jennings, PA to a partner at global law firm Freshfields, took the time to answer a few questions about her career so far and what it’s like to be named the 2020 Legal PA of the Year.

Hi, Tanya. How did you become a Legal PA?

“It all started when my dad told me it was time to get a job! After applying for a number of secretarial roles, I joined as a Legal PA at a local law firm. I can picture myself now – I was a nervous wreck. However, I’m not any more, and doing this role has definitely contributed to that!”

What can you tell us about your current role supporting a Partner at Freshfields?

Legal Jargon – Plain English or Utter Drivel?

As the legal profession is one that benefits from clear communication, it is surprising how the language used by lawyers can sometimes be confusing. This may in part be because of the liberal use of legal jargon. In this article we will consider some common terminology used by the profession and look at what some lawyers have done to improve how they communicate. 

Let us start with a quote from a Professor of Law, Joseph Kimble, about why complicated writing persists in the modern legal profession: 

“Legalese persists for a lot of bad reasons – habit, inertia, fear of change, the overwhelming influence of poorly written opinions and forms, false notions of prestige, and any number of myths about plain language...” 

ILSPA is Here to Help Make 2021 a Successful Year for You!

The New Year has arrived again, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our Students and Members for being part of ILSPA. 2020 may have been an unusual year, but it was also very productive here at the Institute. Along with many other achievements, we launched our Live Online Classes, which enabled more Students to have access to our classes from the comfort of their own homes. Our Legal Secretary Jobs Board has continued to be busy, and our CV team have been working closely with Graduates and Members to help them find their next roles. We have continued to strengthen the relationships with our Partners, which has enabled us to provide excellent resources, discounts and opportunities for the ILSPA community. 

As the professional body for Legal Secretaries and PAs, ILSPA is here to support you at whatever stage you are in your career. Here are some of the great ways that we can help and support you throughout 2021.

ILSPA’s Membership Area

Legal Secretary Vacancies January 2021

Here is a selection of vacancies from our Legal Secretary Jobs Board this month:

Legal Secretary – Private Client – ENL

Location: West Midlands

Salary: £19,000 - £23,000

ENL is currently seeking an experienced Legal Secretary to join a busy and thriving, Lexcel law firm. The successful Legal Secretary, will be working as part of a successful and growing private client department. This is an excellent opportunity for someone who has experience working within wills, trust and probate and wants to join a friendly and well-established team.

View the full job description here:   

Legal Secretary – Residential Conveyancing – Clayton Legal

Location: Exeter

Salary: £20,000 - £25,000