2010

Improve Your Software Skills With Lynda.com

Lynda.ComIn today’s high-tech work environment you may find yourself pushed to learn how to use new software in order to take on a new role or responsibility. Sometimes you may find yourself forced into using software that you have never heard of, let alone used. Maybe it’s not even the case that it’s new software; rather, you get forced into using the same old application in a way that surpasses your technical capabilities.

Is Employment Law Holding Businesses Back?

At the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, we have used our journal to report back on the effects of employment law on economic recovery in the past. We discussed the possibility that some businesses were struggling to cope with the financial burden that such legal regulations impose upon them, and how this may have led to a sharp increase in the number of employment tribunals that were being pursued.

Philippine Judicial Procedures on Civil Procedure: Bridging the Gap for Poor People

Since I obtained my Associate Membership of this Institute, I have been working in litigation.  It has equipped me with necessary skills pertaining to the court litigation process after the Philippine Supreme Court’s Approval on the Small Claims Court and the amendments of Civil Procedure in Philippine Courts, as promulgated by Philippine Supreme Court.

The Giving Season

The Giving SeasonThis time last year I did some voluntary work for El Shaddai children’s charity in India and I would like to give you an update to how my fundraising has progressed over the past year.  El Shaddai provide orphans, street, slum, abused and sick children with the basic necessities of life.  The care the children receive develops their personalities and helps them to have a brighter future.

Why Work for a Company When You Can Work for Everyone in Europe?

As a Secretary with the European Institutions you can pursue a fascinating future and help them make a difference for 500 million European citizens. Working alongside colleagues of every nationality in the heart of Europe, you will be vital to everything they do and you can expect a challenging international work environment and a career full of opportunities.

Calls for Reform of the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991

Dangerous Dogs ActFollowing an unusually high number of serious dog attacks in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government at the time felt compelled to pass the Dangerous Dogs Act in 1991. This statute aimed to control some of the breeds of dogs that seemed to be featured in the news most prominently at the time, with the Pit Bull Terrier being particularly targeted.

Why I Applied for the Legal Secretaries Diploma Course

I started working as an office junior in November 1999, aged 17 years.  I had actually wanted to be a Travel Agent, but upon gaining one day’s work experience with a local firm I decided this career was not for me, mainly because they put me in a back office to file invoices all day.  I really believe that if you are trying to sell a position to someone, they need to experience it properly in order to make an informed decision.

Why Worrying Well Is Good for You

It is often said that we ought not to worry. In fact, this is far from the case, provided we ‘worry well’. Our brains thrive on being stretched and on finding solutions to difficulties. When we worry well, we engage both our higher intelligence and our innate creativity, which not only reduces stress but also gives us a sense of competence and achievement. So worrying well is good for you and is a skill we can all usefully cultivate.

Does the Defence of Provocation Go Far Enough?

ProvocationIf you have never studied criminal law, you may well be under the impression that provocation could be used as a defence to mitigate a number of different charges. For example, if someone is charged with an assault, surely they may have been provoked into committing that offence? However, with the defence of provocation, this could not be further from the truth.

Handling Difficult Callers

Difficult CallersWe recognise these calls pretty quickly, don't we?  The callers with high-pitched speech, sighs, long pauses, terse answers and increasing volume.  Telling them to "take it easy" or "stay calm" will probably make it worse.  So before your call turns abusive, here are top ten tips to help you handle a difficult caller:

Oh No, Grammar!

Is that a groan familiar from your school days?  If only you had listened, you’d know all about nouns, verbs, sentences and so on.  Or perhaps you were part of the ‘lost generation’ at school between the late 1960s and 1990s, and so you didn’t have a formal education in grammar and punctuation.  Do not fear: here are our top ten tips on grammar:

Dealing With People

Dealing with peopleThe good Legal Secretary is well liked. Visitors to the office recall your courteous, cheerful manner, your intelligent considerateness and your smile. Fellow employees value your helpful cooperation and the little favours you are able to grant them. As for your employer, he depends on you in a hundred different ways, not only in business dealings but sometimes in social matters as well.

Does HMRC Hold All the Cards in the PAYE Fiasco?

The sense of moral outrage provoked by the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) debacle probably has some way to play; this is hardly surprising, given the jumbled mix of apathy and blundering displayed by those at the top of HM Revenue & Customs. To start, its failings were dressed up as the taxpayer’s responsibility; but since the initial announcements, they have been forced to issue a flurry of back-pedalling clarifications that have probably only served to muddy the waters for the harassed taxpayer.

Confidentiality: A Serious Business

ConfidentialityWe live in an era when freedom of information is being vigorously pursued by all and sundry. Though we might have constitutional rights to demand certain information, sometimes we won’t so easily have access to this information. Just as we need access to certain information, people also have their reasons for needing confidentiality and their rights to such cannot be violated.

Disclosure in Legal Proceedings

Disclosure in Legal ProceedingsA summary of the rules of disclosure and an update on the expanding use of electronic disclosure

This is the fifth article in a series focusing on specialist skills and knowledge in civil litigation. We have previously considered the skills needed to prepare court bundles (February 2009); without prejudice correspondence (March 2010); pre-action protocols (June 2010); and legal costs in litigation (August 2010).

Legal Secretaries Diploma Course Students

LSD CourseWe are delighted to have received a record number of enrolments for our Legal Secretaries Diploma course this September. The good reputation of the Institute is growing year by year and many of our enrolments are from word of mouth. The course is of great worth and the proof is in the pudding as Students have gained a variety of excellent positions on the strength of the qualification.

Analysing the Effectiveness of the National Care Standards Commission Regulations in Plastic Surgery

In April 2002, medical professionals in the fields of plastic and constructive surgery breathed a huge sigh of relief as the National Care Standards Commission Regulations came into force. After years of campaigning beforehand, it was hoped that there would be a strong element of control over this area of health care at long last.

How to Find Meaning in Your Work

You have days when there just seems no point to what you’re doing – where it all feels futile or meaningless. Your motivation is low, yet the work still needs to be done.

Whatever your situation, here’s how to find meaning in your work, and to get your motivation back.

Think about your values

Rapid and Effective Reading

How many times have you had to reread the last page or so to catch what you didn’t take in? The best way to learn the skills and to practise them in timed sessions is on our very successful half-day course. You will see amazing results!

In the meantime, and so you don’t just go through the motions", here are ten tips to help you read more quickly and effectively.

The Concerns over Cloned Animal Products Entering the Human Food Chain

Disagreement about the morality of cloning any life form has been raging within our society for a number of years now. Most countries have an outright ban on any research that extends to the cloning of another human being, but the cloning of other animals is definitely a grey area. This uncertainty is most probably what is responsible for the recent events that have attracted widespread news coverage.

Taking Control in Litigation: A Review of Legal Costs

Taking control in LitigationWe last considered the subject of costs in an article published in November 2007. At that time, we considered what requirements had to be followed by a firm to ensure that they were complying with the (then new) Solicitors’ Code of Conduct 2007. The most important part of the Code for costs is the rules that require clients to be given clear and accurate cost quotes and estimates.

Speak Volumes Silently

Speak Volumes SilentlyHave you ever been told you can be ‘read like a book’? Are you aware when your body language is ‘leaking’, or giving you away? Words are only a very small part of communication: while you are saying the words, your body is speaking volumes! Sometimes, you don’t even have to say anything: your face or body language will have said it for you!

Using To-Do List Applications

To Do ListsTo-do lists are a great way of increasing productivity. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the tasks we have to do during the course of a week, but we can eliminate stress by creating achievable goals. If you take the time to write down the tasks you need to complete, you will find that the list will help you to put your workload in perspective and keep the end in sight.

Improve Your Negotiating Skills

Negotiating SkillsNegotiating skills come into play whenever we are contact with others, whether professionally, personally or socially. Improving these skills allows us to be at our best in order to achieve successful mutual outcomes.

The three main keys to success are effective handling of ourselves, handling of others and dealing with the problem.

Let's look at each of these in turn:

1. Effective handling of ourselves

Tips and Advice for Personal Assistants

Tips for PAsIf you are working as a Legal PA and would like access to another good resource to help you in your career, look no further than http://www.personal-assistant-tips.com. This informative website includes tips and advice for junior and senior PAs alike. There are many beneficial articles on checklists for meetings, managing your boss, event planning, minute taking, business writing and more.

Register on Our Legal Secretary Jobs Board

Legal Secretary Jobs BoardThe ILSPA Legal Secretary Jobs Board is the UK’s largest niche recruitment site for Legal Secretaries and PAs. It was specifically designed to help our Members and Students secure employment by aggregating Legal Secretary jobs from across the web as well as enabling law firms and recruitment agencies to post jobs directly. If you are presently looking for a Legal Secretary job, register on our jobs board to gain access to around 2,000 vacancies across the UK. 

Succeed With Your Studies

Excellent.jpgThere are times when it can be hard to focus on your studies. Sometimes the subject material might be particularly challenging, or sometimes there are unwelcome distractions or activities which appear to be more appealing than studying. It could be that it is simply not easy to concentrate at times.

Will Sharia Law Be Able to Move out of the Shadow of Gender Repression?

Sharia LawNo one can fail to have been shocked and disturbed by the recent case from Iran of a woman condemned to death by stoning for a conviction of adultery. The obscenity of the punishment, against a woman half buried and defenceless, for what we see as a private act, mirrors our feelings of sadness at a regime which has used violence against a passive civil society to maintain itself.

Writing Understandable Minutes

Writing MinutesMost people do not read minutes particularly carefully. They were either at the meeting and so only need a quick reminder of the discussions and action points or they were not there and therefore just need an overview and, once again, action points. So it is essential that the minutes can be skim-read and understood at first reading. Here are the top 10 tips to make your minutes understandable:

Boosting Self-Esteem

Boosting Self EsteemSometimes our self-esteem can take a bit of a dive. It is natural for it to fluctuate, but we all need a base level to get the most out of work and life generally. So, what is self-esteem and how can we boost it when we need to?

Make the Most of Your Appraisal

Making the most of it.The formal appraisal is meant to be a frank and open discussion about past performance and future development so as to contribute to the success of the business. But appraisals can hold dread for some appraisees. Maybe it is a process you don’t give much thought to until a few weeks before the meeting itself. So you wander in saying how ‘fabulous’ or ‘excellent’ you are, and risk being disappointed.

Taking Control in Litigation

Taking control in litigation.A review of the growing importance of pre-issue steps in litigation and how the trained Legal Secretary can assist.

The famous line ‘No man is an island’ by the English poet John Donne is never more true than when working in a busy Solicitor’s office. Even the most skillful of Solicitors will rely on their support staff to ensure that they are working at the top of their game. As a trained Legal Secretary you will be in a position to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the fee earners you work for. This article is one in a series focusing on key areas of practice and the specialist skills and knowledge that will help make you indispensible.

The Philippine Elections: Automation and Manual Counting Scenarios and the Impact on the Electoral Systems of the World

ElectionsOur recent elections have prompted calls for a reform of the voting system. Many ideas have been put forward and one of the recommendations on the cards is an e-voting system, which will reduce the chaos that often ensues on election day. One of our Associate Members, Clint Diesto, from the Philippines, has written an article on the recent introduction of computerised voting in his country.

What Are the Legal Implications Following the BP Oil Spill?

BP Oil SPillFollowing a disastrous explosion on an oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on the 20 April 2010, 11 workers tragically lost their lives and a further 17 people were injured. Before we even begin to analyse the legal implications of this disaster, it is important that we spare our thoughts for the friends and families of these unfortunate employees.

Mental Rehearsal Skills

In various articles over the last few months, I have mentioned mental rehearsal. Here are some more details about this and how to practise it. As Gandhi once said: ‘In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.’

The principles involved are very straightforward:

The Emergency Budget and Its Effects

The Emergency Budget.The Con-Lib coalition have been exceptionally busy over the past month in creating new legislation and implementing policies that they have always held dear. Some of these legal changes have had profound impacts upon many people in our society; indeed, some others have managed to raise the hackles on all of our backs, as we struggle to comprehend from where we are going to be able to find even more money to bail our country out.

Tips for a Healthy Inbox

Tips for a healthy inboxOrganise

Use folders or labels to organise and manage your email. If you have a good reference system set up, you won’t ever have troubles looking for mail. Paper documents are filed for ease of use, and email should be treated the same way.

Archive

Do Unto Others

Do Unto OthersCommon Areas of Expensive Legal Dispute – Part Two

In our previous article on common areas of legal dispute, we considered the pitfalls of entering into boundary disputes. I suggested that on some occasions it is better to consider the biblical saying ‘Love thy neighbour’ rather than resort to expensive legal proceedings. In this article we are considering complaints of nuisance, intimidation and harassment. Surprisingly, the teachings of Jesus, provides us with a possible starting point to avoid these types of disputes, with his golden rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’. It is not only Christianity that provides this simple ethical code; it appears in every other major religion. Unfortunately, despite its being a fairly simple ethical principle, it is very difficult to apply in practice.

HIPs, HIPs, Away!

Hips AwayAs the United Kingdom is still struggling to get back on its feet after one of the worst recessions in living memory, will the Government’s recent decision to put an end to Home Information Packs (HIPs) provide a much needed boost to the housing market? This is indeed the $64,000 question, and people appear to be in one of two camps over the issue. 

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

Reduce Reuse RecycleWWF’s One Planet Future campaign encourages us to change our lifestyles and think about better ways to dispose of our waste.

In the UK, most of the waste we produce ends up decomposing in landfill sites, producing greenhouse gases and contributing to climate change. You can help cut climate change by finding ways of reducing, reusing and recycling your waste.

Reduce

Work-Life Balance

Work Life BalanceWhat is the balance between your work and other aspects of your life? Do you spend too much time working or thinking about work at the expense of other things? Do you have the skills and environment to make your working life satisfying? 

First Past the Post Vs. Proportional Representation

Never has there been a better time to evaluate the possibility of a complete overhaul to the political voting systems of the UK. As our country has just voted for the first hung parliament in thirty-six years, terms such as ‘first past the post’ and ‘proportional representation’ are being bandied around by our politicians. Yet many people do not fully understand what is meant by this.

Negotiate to Win

Do you feel you are a negotiator in your role at work? You may have answered ‘no’, however, I feel the answer is most definitely ‘YES’! Although we associate negotiating with salespeople, we are all salespeople at some time. We often have to negotiate deadlines that need changing, tasks that we can or can’t do, or responsibilities that others want us to take on. We are always negotiating.

Working Well as a Team

Working as a teamTeams are generally made up of all sorts of different types of people with different strengths and weaknesses. When the team works in balance, each member of the team feels encouraged to contribute his or her own strengths and capabilities to the team to support it, and the individual needs of each person (as opposed to things he or she might just want!) are respected. 

Planning the Working Day

Do you ever do a to-do list and not achieve what’s on it? Does your to-do list just get longer and longer? Do you spend hours working out a to-do list and then not have any time to do the tasks on it? Or perhaps you’ve given up on using one altogether! Before you can plan and organise your working day, it is necessary to think of what is to be done and set up some simple drills to help you do it more effectively. So here are the top 10 tips for planning your working day.

Broadening Your Knowledge in the Current Climate

Attending training courses in the current climate may not seem a high priority, but the fact is, with an alarming number of positions being amalgamated due to redundancies, and job functions becoming more blurred by the increased pressure to absorb workload, the need for those able to progress quickly is critical, and thus the need for training is, perhaps, greater than ever. 

Surfing the Web with Google Chrome

Google ChromeThese days surfing the Internet can put as much strain on your computer as playing the latest games or running bulky office or graphics applications. The increasing demands of online video, flash applications, fancy webmail and badly coded websites have created the need for web browsers to become far more efficient with resources and effective in managing errors and crashes.

Love Thy Neighbour

Love your neighborCommon Areas of Expensive Legal Dispute – Part One

It is not often that I resort to the Bible to advise clients, but where disputes with neighbours are concerned this can be the best advice. What may seem to be a trivial issue can often explode into a case of biblical proportions. In this article we will consider one of the most common areas of friction between neighbours, which involves disagreements about boundaries. 

Anti-Social Behaviour and the Police

Antisocial BehaviourMany police forces in England and Wales have recently come under harsh criticism for failing to protect their areas from the modern-day scourge that is anti-social behaviour. Topping this poll, with a poor classification across the board, were Nottinghamshire Police; Greater Manchester Police were second worst, with two areas out of three classified as poor, although they did score a “good” rating in one category of local opinion.

Assertive Communication

Assertive communicationWe usually know deep down what we need and what infringes our needs even if we don’t recognise it on a conscious level. Being able to stand back, making this a conscious process and then cultivating the skill to communicate what we need to others is assertive communication.

Endangered Wildlife in Britain

Endangered Wildlife in BrtitainWildlife conservation isn’t just about the rainforests of Brazil or the jungles of the Amazon, it relates to our countryside too. There are many animals in Britain which are becoming endangered, such as certain species of owls and voles, as well as bumblebees, due to our changing lifestyles, garden makeovers and declining habitats.

Participating in Meetings

Participating in MeetingsMeetings often fail because participants haven’t prepared enough. Consequently, meetings drag on and decisions cannot be made. To make sure you are better prepared for your next meeting, and to present a more professional image to your colleagues, follow the checklist below.

Prenuptial Agreement Laws in England

Prenuptial AgreementsIt is quite common when you hear the term “prenuptial agreement” to think of Hollywood celebrity couples embroiled in a bitter divorce suit. Hardly ever does this phrase conjure up the image of the ordinary man and woman in Britain battling for his ’n’ her assets after a marriage breaks down – so why is this the case?

The National Association of Licensed Paralegal's 23rd Anniversary and Awards Ceremony

NALP AwardsOn 11 March 2010, the National Association of Licensed Paralegals held a special event at the House of Commons to mark their 23rd anniversary and to present awards to their highest achieving Students of the year. Since 1987, the National Association of Licensed Paralegals has dedicated itself to the promoting the status of Paralegals and paralegal training in the United Kingdom and abroad.

46,000 Repossessions and This Figure is Set to Rise!

RepossesionsIt is one of the unfortunate facts of life that when a deep recession strikes our economy, there are always going to be unfortunate homeowners who lose their abodes through the distressing process known as repossession. The current recession has not proven to be any different and indeed the figures that recently have been announced for repossessions last year have been even more shocking than previously anticipated.

Celebrating 20 Years of Dedication to the Legal Secretary Profession

We celebrate our twentieth anniversary with pride, as we have become recognised as the leading organisation in our field. ILSPA not only offers accredited and recognised qualifications but also provides professional recognition for our Members and their ongoing development, together with support, advice and career guidance for trainee and experienced Legal Secretaries throughout the UK and overseas.

Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace on the Increase!

 

We are all used to a bit of banter in the office, but it becomes a completely different matter when banter turns into something as serious as bullying. Bullying and harassment in the workplace have always been issues that have been played down to a certain extent, but recent studies by work unions have indicated that instances have almost doubled over the past ten years.

Going Green at The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs

Every year businesses needlessly waste thousands of reams of paper, burn excess electricity and literally flush resources down the drain. During the past two years the Institute has been working towards streamlining its systems, not only to create more efficiency but also to stop overusing resources. We all have a responsibility to be aware of these issues and reduce our impact where we can.

The Paperless Office

Managing Your Workload

Workloads in a legal office are demanding at all levels. How we manage these will influence how we perform as well as how we feel.

There is a well-established principle of dividing what is important from what is urgent and of spending as much time as possible on things which are important and spending no or minimal time on things which are not important (urgent or not).

Meeting the Needs of Clients

When we’re a customer in a shop or a client of a company, we like help, respect, understanding, satisfaction, value for money, action, friendly service … need I go on? So whether you’re dealing with a colleague’s or a multimillion-pound client’s request, you will have to satisfy these four basic needs: the need to be understood, the need to feel welcome, the need to feel important and the need for a comfortable environment.

Advice on Being Successful in Your Job, from the 1940s

1940'sWe were recently excited to come across a “Secretary’s Guide and Office Worker’s Manual” which was published in 1944.  It is packed full of useful advice for secretaries and office workers of the time, with the slogan “Get Ahead; Improve Yourself; Earn More Money”.

What we found interesting was that the advice given in the manual regarding career advancement has not changed over the intervening 60 years.  The basic principles of being successful in your job still exist today.  So although technology may have radically changed the way we work, social attitudes have not.

Chancel Repair Liability: That Sneaky Little Law

Chancel Repair LiabilityThe United Kingdom is renowned for its established legal system. There are laws governing just about everything, and even some obscure laws that only affect a handful of people, particularly when they least expect it! One such law is the Chancel Repair Liability Law.

Before the Reformation of the churches in the 15th century, vicars and rectors were responsible for repairs to their churches. At this time the land around the church was also considered to be chancel land, on which many parishioners dwelled.

Changes to Your Consumer Rights – Part 1

Consumer RightsThe New European Proposals

You may not be aware, but last year the UK government introduced a wide-ranging white paper called “A Better Deal for Consumers – Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future”. The proposals made in this white paper follow hot on the heels of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The 2008 Regulation marked the biggest shake-up in consumer law in 40 years. It now appears that the government is going to go even further.

Employee Training and Development: Reasons and Benefits

Training and DevelopmentKnowledge and skills development is vital to the health of organisations.  We live in an information age today, and organisations are routinely valued not just on their physical but on their intellectual capital.  Training is one of the chief methods of maintaining and improving intellectual capital, so the quality of an organisation’s training affects its value. Untrained or poorly trained employees cost significantly more to support than well-trained employees do.  Training affects employee retention and is a valuable commodity that, if viewed as an investment rather than as an expense, can produce high returns.

Oral Wills: Restricted Areas Where They Are Valid

Oral WillsWhen it comes time to think about writing a will, the stereotypical image conjured up is that of sitting down with pen and paper or making an appointment with a solicitor to draw up the document. We then rattle off how we want our property and assets to be divvied out and we sign the document, usually with a couple of witnesses signing it at the bottom.

Problem-Solving Skills

We are problem-solving animals. Our brains are designed to find solutions to enhance our life. This applies as much to practical problems of which we are very much consciously aware – such as how to deal with that difficult matter, colleague or client – as it does to problems that need addressing in one or more areas of our lives of which we are often only subconsciously aware – a nagging thought, perhaps, that something is not really quite right.

Using Emotional Intelligence in Presentations

Emotional IntelligenceYou may be surprised to learn that 60% of people rate fear of public presentations even above the fear of death. This comes from an ancient fear of ostracism from the tribe, abandonment and vulnerability, which remains part of our inheritance in the emotional brain. The emotional (subconscious) part of our brain evolved for life in the wild, whereas our intellectual (conscious) brain evolved much later.

Build Your Confidence

ConfidenceSome lucky few seem to be born with loads of confidence. Most of us need to develop it through practice. Confidence is about gaining the inner strength to do something and then feeling comfortable about using that strength, without worrying disproportionately about what others will think of you. So pursuing a job promotion, a personal dream, or even just standing up to speak in a team meeting, all take confidence.

Help Our Senior Executive to Fundraise for Underprivileged Children in India

FiundraisingI would like to share my recent experience of working with children in India with our Members. For many years, it has been one of my goals to dedicate some of my time to underprivileged children in a poor country and at last I have had the opportunity to fulfil it. Fortunately the wonders of the Internet enabled me to continue my work for the Institute at the same time.

Minimising Interruptions

Minimising Interuptions at WorkHave you ever noticed how much more you can get done on the occasional day that you work away from the office? So where does the time go in the office? A “quick” question from a colleague, a phone call, a never-ending flow of incoming emails, a quick trip to the coffee machine: they all add up. So here are the top ten tips to help you minimise interruptions:

Miscarriages of Justice: Where It Was Not Just Freedom at Stake!

If you say the words “capital punishment” to anyone you will get a varying degree of opinions on the subject. Capital punishment has always been (and will always likely be) a strong topic for debate. No matter whether you are for or against the death penalty in Great Britain, it has to be acknowledged that there have been several instances of miscarriage of justice throughout the years.

Getting Along with Colleagues in the Workplace

Getting Along in the WOrkplaceHappy New Year professional colleagues! Thank God for bringing us thus far, with the promising Year 2010 already here.  I am confident that we can all succeed provided we acknowledge that success is not an accident. It begins with a well conceived plan. Therefore, to succeed in any of our endeavours, we need to plan consciously. By not consciously planning to succeed, we are unconsciously planning to fail.