Last month, I was looking at the motto of the Olympic Games (“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”) and indicated that it didn’t just apply to Olympians but to anyone who wanted to be the best, or at least be amongst the best, in whatever sphere where they wanted to excel. But, like with anything worthwhile, you have to work at it; it won’t be handed to you on a plate.
So, the first essential that you must work towards is “determination”. It’s logic – if you don’t really want to succeed, then you’re not going to! Being a really successful Legal Secretary is not governed by chance – it’s governed by you. Only you can make it happen. Here’s something to think about: “What makes a star a star?” Well, one answer could be that it sparkles! Ask yourself, “What will make me sparkle in my job?” You spend a large part of your life at work, so it makes sense to invest in it.
Legal Secretaries need a wealth of skills other than and in addition to the normal secretarial ones. A knowledge of law and practice is essential and will help you to understand not only how to perform certain tasks, but also the reason for those tasks and the principles of law behind them. This will give you excellent job prospects and the opportunity for career advancement. That seems to be stating the obvious, but it is a fact which should be embraced. If you have taken ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course or you are an experienced Legal Secretary, you will have gained an excellent understanding of law, the court system and our legal profession. It is designed to equip you with a knowledge and understanding of the English legal system as a whole and the areas of legal practice carried out by the average firm of solicitors. You don’t need to stop there, though! Advancing your knowledge of law and practice, especially in the area of practice where you actually work, can help you progress further and work your way up the ladder. ILSPA provides advanced courses which you can study online through distance learning at any time of the year. The online resources available through ILSPA’s Student and Member area can also help you in all kinds of fields, such as keeping up to date with law, continuing professional development and improving your computer skills. Their sole reason for existence is to help you be the best Legal Secretary you can be.
How else can you sparkle? What is the point of sparkling? It’s no use sparkling for the sake of it – it’s to make yourself noticed. There are two ways in which you will be noticed: by your appearance (i.e. by the way you look) and by your inward attributes (i.e. by the way you are perceived). So, you must think carefully about your self-presentation. Think back to when you went for the first interview for your job and how you took care about how you looked and how you presented yourself to the interviewer. Now fast forward to the present! Do you still have the same attitude or does it not matter to you so much anymore? Always look your best, and always look suitable for the role! If you are always smart and well presented, you will be noticed. Lawyers pride themselves on being part of a great profession. Law is serious stuff; it’s the cornerstone of democracy, and lawyers are perceived as serious people, so dress accordingly. Think to yourself, “If I was in difficulty or in trouble and I had to see a lawyer, what kind of image would I expect him or her to have?” It applies just as much to his or her Secretary, which is you.
Just before I leave the subject of appearance, there is one thing that you must always try and do every day: smile! It is a fact that smiling makes you appear more approachable and likable. Interaction with others is easier and more enjoyable when smiles and happiness are shared. These behaviours are contagious, making others feel better too, and they make you a more appealing and attractive person to be around. This in turn will have a positive effect on your well-being and your working life. If you smile at someone – anyone – they will smile back. Try it!
Part 3 to come next month.