Continuing Professional Development Can Advance Your Career

When we are passionate about our careers we naturally look into ways of improving our practice. Continuing professional development is a process which encourages that improvement and is widely recognised as an integral part of professional progression. Through continuing professional development we can advance, refine and reflect on the work that we do, encouraging more effective practice and greater rewards in the future. It is a self-directed and ongoing process which allows the individual to become empowered to take charge of their career and steer it in the direction they want it to go.

Continuing professional development can take many forms, both formal and informal; it could present itself as an online course, attendance at a seminar or an offer of mentoring from a peer. There is a wealth of opportunities available to ambitious Legal Secretaries that can be taken advantage of. The world is evolving at a fast pace and, with that evolution, opportunities are ever growing. In this global economy, where a higher percentage of individuals are gaining formal qualifications, the importance of continuing professional development cannot be understated. Ensuring that you continue to enhance your skills and abilities once you have formally qualified as a Legal Secretary allows you to stay competitive with your peers.

When we apply continuing professional development to our working lives we are able to become more experienced, confident and effective in our role. Attending a professional workshop or enrolling on a course can refresh interest in your field, inspiring passion for your work and reminding you why you chose your career in the first place. Through observing other professionals, insights can be given into new working methods which can arouse and seed new ideas and motivate your own practice. Receiving feedback through mentoring can enable you to gain valuable and constructive criticism which can change the way you work for the better. It is vitally important to implement the positive lessons and skills you learn in your own practice and acknowledge which areas need to be given more time and attention.

Reflection is one of the most beneficial aspects of professional development. Through reflection you are able to examine yourself subjectively; observing the way you work and how you react and considering what you could improve on. We recommend recording any recent professional experiences and analysing them to consider your strengths and weaknesses. Identifying the areas you need to develop enables you to improve your skills and competency within the workplace. Assessing how your efforts and improvements have affected you, your work and your employer gives you insight into how you are benefitting your career. Always ensure that you update your CV and online professional presence with any achievements you gain. 

Another reason why continuing professional development is so important is to keep up to date with any changes in your specific sector. Those within the legal field will know that laws are constantly evolving, being modified and updated to reflect changes and opinions within our society. Keeping up to date with current laws is seen as a fundamental facet of working as a Legal Secretary.

The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs highly recommends our Single Subject Legal courses to enable you to either further advance your legal knowledge or specialise in a specific area of law. Knowledge in an additional area of law could change your career path and allow for you to be given more responsibilities within your company. We run both foundation- and advanced-level courses, which can be found online through the Legal Secretary Courses section of our website. Through online research Legal Secretaries can find an abundance of worthwhile courses to assist them in their roles. We also recommend Reed Learning, which provides courses on minute taking, time management, effective communication, business writing skills and much more. 

We encourage Legal Secretaries and Personal Assistants to undertake professional development through our CPD programme. Our programme is designed to recognise the progression of Legal Secretaries and PAs in their careers and support those who accomplish this goal. If you are currently working as a Legal Secretary or PA, you can take part in our CPD programme. If you have undertaken 12 hours of continuing professional development within the past year, we can reward you for your accomplishments by presenting you with a CPD certificate. This certificate can then act as palpable proof of your efforts and enhance your own sense of personal achievement.

It is important to consistently consider career goals. What did you envision yourself doing when you started training? Where would you like to see yourself in five years? Try to assess where you are at present and think carefully about what steps you could take now towards your future goals. Write them down and set short-term objectives for yourself. If deadlines motivate you, then try to work towards set dates by which to achieve your accomplishments. When the date you have set comes, be sure to reflect back on what you’ve learnt in that time, what inspired you and what held you back, and learn from what you’ve observed. Through these observations you are given a tangible record of the progress you are making towards your future goals. Use your time wisely; the amount of effort you put in today will affect you tomorrow. The person who will gain the most benefit from your professional development is, ultimately, you.

When you dedicate yourself to your own professional improvement you can be assured that you are working to your highest potential. Employers want to see individuals who are passionate about their line of work both inside and outside the office. If you ensure that you are the person who consistently goes above and beyond their role, you will stand out from your colleagues, making you next in line to progress up the career ladder. With the right amount of passion and commitment, you could be just a few short steps away from the career of your dreams.