Kathleen Riordan won Legal PA of the Year at SecsintheCity’s PA of the Year Awards 2017. The judges praised Kathleen, as one of her nominations said: she’s “the embodiment of team first, self second, Kathleen works conscientiously and tirelessly, often without recognition, to get the job done.” In this interview, we’ll find out how Kathleen became a Legal PA and what drives her to succeed in the role.
How did you become a PA?
After finishing university and working as a Senior Sales Administrator, I felt that I needed a change and started temping as a PA/secretary. During this time I realised how different and interesting PA roles could be, and I gained a lot of experience during this time which led me to my career as a PA.
What’s great about your job at Schillings?
It’s a fast-paced environment, which I thrive on. There is never a dull moment. I like the variety of my work and juggling various demands – this could be ensuring urgent papers are ready for Court, arranging an overseas trip or liaising with clients on behalf of my Partner. I have been lucky to be involved in various projects in the firm such as the introduction of new software and the training of new starters on CRM and document management systems. I get to liaise with all areas of the business in my role and feel that if I have any ideas that I can voice them and they will be taken seriously, which is so encouraging.
What’s your secret to being organised and juggling lots of priorities?
Over the years I have found various methods and tips to ensure I meet deadlines and prioritise my work well, but one key thing which really helps is being proactive. If you can find out as much as possible about your boss’s or team’s priorities, then you’re equipped to be proactive and put little things in place before anyone asks, or thinks to ask, which can make everything go smoothly. It’s the little things that make all the difference.
Did you always have an interest in law? What made you decide to become a Legal PA?
I studied law at GCSE level, and my business studies degree covered various legal topics. I have always found law interesting. I fell into legal PA work when I worked at the Government Legal Department as a float PA. During this role I worked for non-legal Directors in HR, Business Development and Finance as well as the Heads of various legal teams, including working on a public inquiry. I also worked in the Private Office for the Treasury Solicitor and Head of the Government Legal Service, which was really interesting and I learnt a lot in this role.
Has working as a Legal PA made you want to take your career in law in a different direction, perhaps a paralegal or a solicitor?
No, I haven’t thought of training as a solicitor for example. At the moment I feel that I get enough exposure to the legal work I enjoy on the cases that I work on.
How did you find the application (where applicable) and interview for PA of the Year?
It was lovely when I found out that I had been nominated by the Partner I work for, and I had a lot of lovely messages of support from my colleagues at work. I was so thrilled to be nominated. It really meant a lot to me. I was nervous when I initially arrived at the interview but was put at ease immediately, and it was exciting to hear more about the awards and to make it to the shortlist.
Tell me about the night itself.
The awards night was amazing. I attended with my manager, and we had a fabulous time. It was lovely to meet the other PAs nominated and we were all made to feel very special. It is great that these awards highlight the hard work and dedication of PAs.
How did your colleagues react, and have you seen any lasting effects from what is a tough award to win?
My colleagues were so generous and supportive, and I was overwhelmed by the congratulations I received from them. It really was a confidence booster. I am delighted to have won the accolade of Legal PA of the Year. It has given me even more drive and determination.
What piece of advice would you give others for achieving success as a PA or EA?
I think if you take pride in your work and do the best you can, it will always stand you in good stead.
If you’re inspired by Kathleen’s story and would like to find out more about SecsintheCity’s PA of the Year Awards, please click here.
Nominations are open for the PA of the Year Awards 2018, so if you are a talented Legal PA or know someone who is, submit your nomination today.