Don’t Just Hear - Listen!

How do you rate as a listener? Do you, for example, “tune out” because you find the speaker long winded? Or unwittingly, perhaps, display signs of impatience or irritation? Or maybe you turn a deaf ear to certain topics or subjects? If you do these (and more) regularly, you are losing vital cues to help you understand another’s behaviours and real meanings. Instead, you are simply picking up sound waves.

Here are the top 10 tips to help you listen actively:

Coping Well in Difficult Situations

Coping WellThere is a great deal we can do to cope well in situations which we find (or expect to find) difficult.

To see how the brain works in this context, it is useful to have a close look at the cycle of emotional arousal. This shows how negative emotional arousal can generate unhelpful thoughts, which themselves fuel further negative emotions. Knowing how the cycle works then informs us as to how best to make changes in that situation and so improves the way we cope.

The Human Givens School of Psychology uses the APET model. This is what APET stands for:

A: Activating stimulus (e.g. being part of a meeting or even just imagining being in a meeting).

Co-ownership – A Cautionary Tale

Co-OwnershipRecent case law highlights the importance of understanding how property can be held jointly

Whenever property is jointly owned, there is the possibility of disagreement. The ongoing case of Kernott v Jones [2010] provides, in the words of Lord Justice Wall, “a cautionary tale” to all unmarried couples and the solicitors who advise them.

If you have already completed the Diploma course, you will be aware that there are only two ways to hold property in England and Wales – as a joint tenant or as a tenant in common. With only two options, you would think that couples entering into the world of home ownership should always get suitable legal advice. Unfortunately, this is not the case and it can be a very costly mistake.

The Paralegal’s Greatest Asset is the Legal Secretary

Paralegals AssetWhen a paralegal first joins a firm, it is natural for the paralegal to look up to the lawyer as the mentor. After a few days, the paralegal soon learns that the nearest and most accessible mentor is his secretary.

Because the secretary is hidden behind the computer with a dangly headset, sandwiched between the file cabinets, do not think that this person is a mechanic. Not true. Given a few years’ experience, the legal secretary probably knows more about what goes on around the office than anyone else. Ask any lawyer. The legal secretary is the core of the law firm and not easily impressed by the briefcase-toting paralegal. Many offices are fortunate to have secretaries with ten or more years’ experience. Paralegals will learn from the legal secretary’s valuable expertise if they are smart.

The ‘West Lothian Question’: Stop Questioning and Do Something About it!

The West Lothian QuestionFor those of you already familiar with constitutional and administrative law, the ‘West Lothian Question’ will no doubt bring forth a frustrated sigh of recognition as you remember covering it in your legal studies. For those of you unfamiliar with this important point that affects our country’s democracy, allow me to explain as succinctly as possible.

The West Lothian Question was first raised in the House of Commons as far back as 1977, when Parliament was already discussing the possibility of a devolved legislature for Scotland. It was actually a Scottish Member of Parliament that questioned the fairness of non-English MPs being entitled to have a say over legal matters that were only ever likely to affect English constituents. That person was Tom Dalyell and at the time he represented the constituency of West Lothian.

Stretching Our Comfort Zones

Stretching our comfort zonesWe all have a sense of our own comfort zones: areas of our life and experience where we feel comfortable and at ease. Whilst we undoubtedly need a level of stability and consistency, we also have a basic need to be stretched and challenged, not least to give us the opportunity to learn and experience new things, to promote a sense of competence and achievement, and overall to give a sense of meaning in our lives.

Perfect Court Procedure

Even in the best of times it is a good idea to keep the courts on your side. At the moment it is more important than ever given the increased pressure that judges are under. In a busy litigation department, fee earners can find it difficult to be as organised as they should be, but this is a role which you as a legal secretary are in a position to help with.

The president of the Association of District Judges, Monty Trent, recently identified a number of tips that can help fee earners to get on with their judges.

Corresponding with the court

The following tips may seem obvious, but if they are being raised by an eminent judge then you can be sure that these are common points of irritation for members of the judiciary.

Employees Are Being Denied Their Statutory Rights

Statutory RightsIf you have been following this section over the past year or so, you will have noticed how there has been a concerted effort to report on the issues of employment law that are being affected by the economic difficulties being faced within the country. In fact, some previous articles have gone so far as to make predictions on what might be expected in this regard; alas, it would seem that many of these assertions are now coming to fruition.

At a time when most small and medium-sized businesses are really struggling to keep their heads above water, it cannot be helpful that changes in employment law see these hard-pushed employers having to dip even deeper into their pockets to cover escalating financial obligations: anything from paternity/maternity pay to an extra bank holiday this year - leading to a very unproductive three-day week.

Easy Ways to Make a Difference

Easy Ways to Make a DifferenceWith spring here in full force and Earth Day having just passed, I thought it would be a good time to share some simple ideas to help take some pressure off the environment.  Our membership of the WWF helps remind us and our Members that there are many ways that we can protect the planet.

Composting

Every day we toss out the kitchen scraps with barely a thought for where those vegetables came from and ultimately where they end up after being sealed in a bin liner and taken away by the bin men.

Where is Our Right to Privacy?

Where is our right to privacy?We all pride ourselves in living in a country that enjoys one of the oldest and most advanced legal systems in the world today. In fact, we may even go so far as to purport the fact that we live in one of the most tolerant and accepting societies in the developed world. However, why does the English legal system still insist on dragging its heels where the definite right to privacy is concerned?

Compared with most other countries in the West, it is completely fair to assert that the right to privacy is lacking in England. Although the United Kingdom has a duty to respect Article 8.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), for decades now, nevertheless, it has been commonly accepted that there is a distinct lack of clear law in this area.