Dealing with Difficult People

difficult peopleDealing with difficult people is a skill. Managing them effectively involves a number of key principles:

1. Controlling yourself

If you allow yourself to get sucked into an emotionally charged situation driven by someone who is in a negative state of mind, then things are likely to get worse. Strong emotions lock attention in an “all or nothing” way and limit access to your conscious (thinking) brain, which in turn makes it harder to think, negotiate and communicate effectively. One of the best ways to control your own emotional level is to use the 7/11 breathing technique described in this month’s article on stress and anxiety. The more you do something, the more deeply it is embedded into your brain and the more quickly and effectively it will work, so really practising this technique will stand you in good stead when trying to stay calm and in control.

2. Building rapport

Still Room for More Paralegals, Says NALP

NALPLaw students have been urged to consider a career as a paralegal in the wake of a campaign to warn them to think twice when considering qualifying as a solicitor.

The paralegal profession is still growing despite the recession, providing job opportunities for graduates, Amanda Hamilton, the chief executive of The National Association of Licensed Paralegals, said “Students can qualify as a paralegal. There is still room for them in the jobs market. They do not need a training contract and it costs them less money.”

Her advice follows the launch of the Law Society’s campaign to warn of the risks in terms of time and cost that the decision to become a solicitor carries with it.

Last year, more than 1,000 people who completed the Legal Practice Course did not get a training contract, according to the society. “Working closely with the junior lawyers division, the society is looking to inform and educate those considering a career as a solicitor to think long and hard about the commitment it requires to succeed,” a Law Society spokesman said. “This is about responsible management of entry to the profession. The society and the profession have long been working hard to create a level playing field for those who are genuinely talented and meritorious in order to overcome the barrier of financial disadvantage.”

What Next for the Lisbon Treaty?

Lisbon TreatyWe’ve been hearing about an official constitution for Europe for many years now. In fact, at one time Tony Blair promised the country a referendum on it when he was Prime Minister back in 2004; but when both France and the Netherlands voted against it, the national vote was cancelled.

Ever since then, the Labour Government has not made any renewed efforts to allow the country to vote on an issue that is potentially more important to the UK than most other EU states. It all boils down to the fact that the UK does not have an official written constitution at present. If and when the Lisbon Treaty does come into force, this will mean yet another element to add to the already confusing constitution of this country.

What Will the Lisbon Treaty Mean?

To be fair, the Lisbon Treaty does seek to streamline the way in which the institutions of the EU work. This is the latest in a long line of treaties that have followed from the original Treaty of Rome in 1957. Considering the fact that the membership of the EU has continued to grow, now having reached 27 states, this can only be viewed as a good thing.

Project Management

Project ManagementEverybody does projects: whether it’s simply going on holiday, developing a complicated new product or anywhere in between. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re particularly successful. Using some project management skills, tools and techniques can significantly increase your chances of not only achieving what you set out to achieve, but also making sure that it’s more likely to be beneficial in the long run. So here are the top ten tips for improving your management of projects:

1.  Get help. Managing projects often requires knowledge or skills we don’t have. Find some people who do to help you.

2.  Listen to the stakeholders. Projects can involve or affect a lot of people. Find out their views, particularly about the long-term benefits of doing the project. While you may not be able to meet everyone’s needs, you may pick up other ideas or ways to manage the project.

3.  Set achievable and realistic objectives. Clarify and specify what the project will deliver. Be confident that it can be achieved by comparing what you need and what you’ve got. Ensure that it should be done by comparing the benefits (tangible as well as intangible) with the cost of doing it.

Managing Deadlines

Managing DeadlinesDeadlines are a common everyday occurrence in our busy lives. We’re either trying to meet them or chasing others to achieve theirs. And trying to work to too tight a deadline can affect the quality of your work or cause you to make errors. The following top ten tips will help you meet your deadlines and also help you manage others to meet theirs. Some tips apply to both!

1.  As soon as you are given a deadline for a task, put it in your diary and then work backwards from that date to ensure that you achieve it on time. If necessary, put stage reminders in your diary too. For example, if you have to put together a report for your manager by Friday, put a reminder in your diary for the previous Monday to check that all the components are available for you to work with.

2.  If you have a large task to complete by a deadline, break it into smaller parts and give each small part its own deadline. That way you won’t leave yourself with a large task to do at the last minute. This tip is particularly good for completing mundane tasks.

3.  Only accept realistic deadlines and ask for an explanation of the task. If a deadline seems unrealistic you should explain what you will have to do to complete the task. You can then negotiate a new deadline.

Home Information Packs - Fit for Purpose?

New provisions added to Home Information Packs (HIPs) may be too little too late.

Home Information Packs (HIPs for short) have been part of the residential conveyancing market for just over two years, but some industry experts have already written them off as an expensive failure. The introduction of HIPs was widely considered to have been badly managed from the start. One of the most high-profile examples of mismanagement was the last-minute removal of the compulsory requirement for a home condition report. Many experts at the time complained that the report was the one document that could have made a real difference to the value of a HIP. To decide if the critics are right, it is worthwhile revisiting what the government’s main objectives were for the packs.

The pack should have ensured that consumers were better informed, the conveyancing process was speeded up and the amount of energy consumed in our homes was reduced. Unfortunately, the industry view is that the packs have failed on all three counts. Despite not actually admitting that HIPs are flawed in their original form, the government introduced reforms to three main areas in April this year in an attempt to get the packs back on track. The reforms covered marketing, contents of the packs and search practices.

Helping Legal Secretaries Every Step of the Way

Helping Legal Secretaries Every Step of the WayThe Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs is delighted to have launched the ILSPA Legal Secretary Jobs Board, which specialises in Legal Secretary jobs throughout the UK. 

ILSPA has been helping people with their legal secretarial careers since 1990 and we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary next year. The Institute was originally founded to promote excellence and professional recognition of Legal Secretaries and PAs. Our Membership base has grown over the years and we now provide qualifications, support, advice and career guidance to trainee and experienced Legal Secretaries. ILSPA has Students and Members throughout the UK and overseas.

We are very pleased with our progress and growth over the years. The new jobs board will help our Students and Members to secure employment and it will also offer a good service to the general public. Not only will candidates be able to apply for jobs, but they can also seek advice on how to go about securing employment as Legal Secretaries. After the launch of our online Legal Secretary Journal this year, our jobs board completes the picture as we are helping people with their legal secretarial careers every step of the way.

Citizen’s Arrest: Best to Leave Well Alone?

Under s.24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (as amended by the Serious Organised Crime Act 2005), it states that a member of the public may perform a citizen’s arrest on a person who is expected to be in the middle of committing an indictable offence, or when there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person is about to commit such an offence, or when the person has already done so.

In other words, an individual member of the public can only arrest another person if they have committed an offence that would be deemed as serious. Indictable offences are those that would be passed on to the Crown Court for trial by jury, as the Magistrates’ Court would not have the power to try such a crime.

Cases that are tried solely in Magistrates’ Court are known as summary offences, and unless the member of the public fervently believes that the individual is causing physical injury to himself or another person, is causing loss of or damage to property, or has made off before a constable could assume responsibility, they would not be permitted to perform a citizen’s arrest. This is the part that most members of the public fail to realise and is the reason that many well-intentioned citizens see themselves landed in hotter water than the original perpetrator of the crime.

The ILSPA Legal Secretary Jobs Board

Last month saw the launch of the ILSPA Legal Secretary Jobs Board, a niche jobs board that aims to provide the most comprehensive listing of Legal Secretary jobs in the UK. The board is feature packed and is open to both Members of the Institute as well as the general public. In its first weeks the board is already attracting many visitors and its usefulness will only grow as it becomes more widely known amongst job seekers and employers alike.

Here is a quick guide to some of the useful features available on the board:

Personal Profile and CV