Computer Tricks Everyone Should Know

IT tricksHave you ever felt as though you spend a good portion of your working day doing trivial things on your Windows desktop – highlighting sentences, minimising and maximising windows and applications, endlessly right-clicking on things and scrolling through context menus? If so then this list is for you. Now you can wow your colleagues with your IT savvy, using this list of tricks every Windows user should know:

Employment Law Update

Employment LawIt has been announced recently that the coalition Government is seriously considering new employment laws that would effectively make it more difficult for an employee to bring a claim of unfair dismissal against his or her employer. If you have been following our journal over recent months, you may recall how we touched on the massive increase in employment tribunals being brought by disgruntled employees against their employers – in fact, the latest statistics show that 218,000 tribunals were heard last year, and there has been a 40% increase in tribunals over the last three years.

How to Close Your ‘Angry Files’

Close your angry filesThere is an exercise you can do which is an incredibly powerful tool to dispose of lingering angry feelings towards someone’s behaviour or to release words when we have not been able fully to articulate our anger at the time. It might apply to a difficult client, a colleague, a manager or someone closer to home. The exercise is based on an approach originally published by a Dr Mahfouz in 2008.

More Relaxed English Planning Laws

Planning LawsWe can all see the argument at either end of this planning issue: On the one hand, we have a country that is known to be short of millions of homes within its overall housing stock; on the other hand, we have beautiful countryside that needs to be protected from the builders. So what is the solution to this massive dilemma and how can planning laws ever hope to balance both of these considerations?

Problem Solving

Problem? What problem? Problems are not really problems – they’re improvement opportunities...although I will admit that they don’t always feel that way at the time. But the reality is, problems can exist, and if we use effective problem-solving skills, tools and techniques, we can significantly improve the situation. So here are the top 10 tips for improving your problem solving:

Taking Minutes – Preparation

Part 1 – Preparation

One of the key aspects of being able to take minutes at meetings is the importance of preparing to take minutes. The better prepared you are the easier it will be for you to concentrate on taking minutes during the meeting. So here are the top 10 tips to help you prepare so that you can focus on the meeting rather than worry about what it’s about, whether you’ve booked coffee or if the PowerPoint works.

Why I Want to Become a Legal Secretary

Why does anyone want to become anything? When I was a child, a frequent question was 'What do you want to be or do when you grow up?'. I can't remember my answer now but I'm sure I may have qualified it (as many children do) with a reason such as 'Because it helps people'.

Now when I think what I want to achieve in a job or why I would choose a particular job, and I'm sure it's top of many people's list, it's nearly always to do with job satisfaction - to make a difference.

How do I make a difference? And how do I achieve this by becoming a Legal Secretary?

Converting Self-criticism to Compassionate Support

At times we can be our own worst enemy. Whilst this can take any number of forms, one particular culprit is self-criticism. You know the sort of thing: you find yourself saying or thinking things like ‘I’m useless’, ‘What an idiot!’ ‘I’m no good at this’ or ‘I can’t do it.’ Although an appropriate dose of constructive self-criticism can motivate us, a higher dose puts us under stress and generally makes things worse as a result. We invariably come out with global self-critical remarks or thoughts like the ones above when we are under stress already. Piling on yet more stress prevents us from accessing our innate capacity to help and support ourselves in a positive and encouraging way.

The Recent Vote for a Referendum on EU Membership

If you have studied the Legal Secretaries Diploma course through the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, you will have touched upon the constitution of the United Kingdom and perhaps you have felt quite confused over what should transpire, according to the statutes and common law that have been formulated over many centuries and what really happens in reality. You will have learnt also about the conventions that have arisen over the years, whereby members of Parliament and the Prime Minister are obliged to adhere to past precedents in the everyday running of this country.

The Use of ‘Reasonable Force’

If you are a regular reader of articles from the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs on legal issues, you may notice that this subject was covered some time ago and it is an issue that insists on making the news. Politicians all seem to make noise about changing the law concerning the use of reasonable force to protect yourself, your loved ones and your property, but it is a fact that we are no further forward today than we were when the Tony Martin murder case hit the headlines back in 1999.

Tips and Tricks to Help You Through the Day

Prioritise tasks using the Windows 7 taskbar

When you look at the Windows taskbar, you probably would never think that it can be used as an effective to- do list. Windows 7 allows you to drag application icons on the taskbar to the left and right, however, and you can use this to prioritise your tasks at hand. Arrange your open applications from left to right according to priority. For example, if answering email is your most important task, keep Outlook to the left, followed by that Word document you need to work on before lunch, then your case management system and finally the game of solitaire that you hope to win once you have completed your pressing tasks.

ILSPA Tour of the Royal Courts of Justice

Tour of Royal Courts of JusticeOnce a month, Students have the opportunity to attend a tour of the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, commonly known as the ‘Law Courts’. The building houses the Court of Appeal and the High Court. As you may have learnt from the English Legal System unit of the Legal Secretaries Diploma course, the Court of Appeal has two divisions – the Civil division, which hears appeals from the High Court, and the Criminal division, which hears appeals from the Crown Court. The High Court has three divisions – the Queen’s Bench division, the Chancery division and the Family division – and accommodates the Administrative Court. The building, breathtaking with its Gothic style and lavish interior, was opened by Queen Victoria in 1882.

Paralegal Skills Can Enhance Your Employability

If you have been thinking about pursuing a career as a Paralegal or you would like to increase your skill set and maximise your employability as a Legal Secretary, look no further than AH Paralegal Training. The AH Paralegal Practical Skills course is short and intensive, taking place over three to four days in London, Manchester, Birmingham or Bristol.

Benefits of Attending the Course

What Could the Changes to the Rules on Legal Aid and Civil Costs Mean?

October has been a busy month for reforms within the legal profession – in particular, two major changes in how legal services are provided. The first change was implemented on 6 October 2011: the creation of Alternative Business Structures (ABS’s). With ABS’s, for the first time in the UK, non-lawyers will be able to own and invest in law firms.1 The possibility that more money will be invested in the legal profession is exciting, and we will consider how this may affect you before the end of the year.

How I Became a Legal Secretary

Having left school at 16 with several “o” levels but no real direction other than that I wanted to work in an office, I started working in a small friendly commercial office doing general office work and reception duties.  It was devastating when I was made redundant after only seven months as I enjoyed my job and loved the people I worked with.  I immediately signed on with several recruitment agencies in my home town, had a short term temp job as a receptionist/typist in a very small legal office in the town centre and immediately got “the bug”.

Instructing Counsel: An Overview of How to Properly Instruct a Barrister

Instructing CouncilIf you have completed studying the English Legal System on the Diploma Course, you will be aware that the two main branches of the legal profession are solicitors and barristers. These parts of the profession work together in some cases to ensure the best chance of success. When it is appropriate to use a barrister, the barrister is sent ‘Instructions' (when asked to give an opinion on a case) or a 'Brief' (if the barrister is to appear in court). Good instructions should give background on a case and will generally include the following:

Legal Ban on ‘Success Fees’ in No-Win, No-Fee Cases

No Win No FeeFollowing a review by the Lord Justice Jackson, which was commissioned by the previous Labour administration, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has now announced that there will be a ban on what are known as ‘success fees’, where no-win, no-fee cases are concerned. This is in an effort to curb the ‘sue and be sued’ culture which many people believe is in operation in our society today.

Effectively, then, the ban on success fees will mean that the solicitor on the winning side will no longer be able to claim additional fees from the side that has lost the case. Instead, the solicitor will be entitled to claim only up to 25% of the resulting award of damages.

Overcoming Public Speaking Fears

public_speakingDo your knees tremble and your hands shake when you have to make a speech in public? Would you rather do your filing than speak in front of a group?

Public speaking DOES NOT HAVE TO BE STRESSFUL! Even the best speakers have their critics. They too can make mistakes, get tongue-tied or forget whole segments of their speech. So here are the top 10 tips to help you overcome some of those fears:

Should the Age of Criminal Responsibility Be Raised?

child crimeThe law surrounding the doctrine of doli incapax has always proven to be extremely controversial, and not just in England. No doubt every single country in the world has deliberated over the age at which a child should be presumed to know that he/she is culpable of wrongdoing to the same extent as an adult. However, where England is concerned, there are reasons that the Liberal Democrat Party is calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised.

The Institute’s New Crest

We are proud to present our new crest to you. It expresses some relevant meanings, encompassing the characteristics, work and role of Legal Secretaries and PAs.

The colours blue, white and maroon have been chosen to promote the attributes of truth, loyalty, sincerity and patience. These qualities will hold you in good stead throughout your career, ensuring that you are trusted and respected by your employers and colleagues.

Europe's 'Unitary Patent' Could Mean Unlimited Software Patents

The battles seen in the US over software patents could spread to the UK and the rest of Europe if the unitary patent is allowed to come into force.

Software PatentsEurope's 'Unitary Patent' Could Mean Unlimited Software Patents
The battles seen in the US over software patents could spread to the UK and the rest of Europe if the unitary patent is allowed to come into force

Just as the US software industry is experiencing the long-anticipated all-out software patent wars, the European Union has a plan to follow the same course. When the Hargreaves report urged the UK to avoid software patents, the UK government had already approved a plan that is likely to impose them.

Free Telephone Hearings for Pro Bono Cases

Lord Woolf with Kidatu’s co-founder, Helen RobertsFor three years, only two companies were approved by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service to carry out telephone hearings. In April 2011 the conference call company Kidatu Ltd. received its approval and now offers free telephone hearings for pro bono cases. Finance Director Paul Thompson said: “Our values are very important to us. We’re delighted to be able to contribute in such a tangible and meaningful way, and once a fee earner has tried our service, they’re happy to use us for non pro bono work.”

Should UK Human Rights Law Be Watered Down?

Human Rights Law and the London RiotsThe question of whether or not UK human rights law should be watered down has now reached the point of very serious discussion, in the wake of the worst riots in England for over thirty years. Even before these violent outbursts in our cities, many people were claiming that human rights law had already gone too far. With the Prime Minister now advocating a serious departure from our existing human rights commitments, the next couple of years are likely to prove to be extremely interesting in this area of law.

The Demise of Europe’s Farmland Birds

Farmland BirdsMany of us as children and as adults have sat in fields and listened blissfully to the cacophony of birdsong emanating from the hedgerows and woods. Every now and then while trampling through the undergrowth, you would scare up a partridge from its hiding place or discover a nest filled with strangely coloured eggs.

Unfortunately, many of our children and indeed many adults may never get to experience the wonder of our feathered friends. Recent studies show that these and many other once-common birds are no longer as wide spread as they once were. The Guardian reports that populations have decreased as much as 90% in the case of the Grey Partridge, and the Linnet population is now down by 57% in the UK.

The Legal Services Act 2007 and Potential Changes in the Legal Marketplace

changes_to_legal_servicesThe Legal Services Act 2007 could potentially represent the most significant change ever seen to the legal industry in this country. There is no denying the fact that many of the already established legal firms are slightly apprehensive over the introduction of certain provisions of this Act, and with good reason, as the whole ethos of their company and the way in which they carry out their business is likely to be brought into question, once these new laws finally come into effect. The specific legislation to which we are referring in this article is provided for under part V, ss. 71 to 72 of the Act.

When Is an Offer Not an Offer?

An examination of the rule for settling civil claims – Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules

Recent announcements by the government have confirmed that later this year there will be major changes to parts of the Civil Procedural Rules (CPR). This month we will examine Part 36 of the CPR, which deals with how Claimants and Defendants can bring legal proceedings to an early conclusion. Although this can be a complex area of practice, the principles are rooted in common sense and the overriding objective of the CPR (legal proceedings should be quick, cost effective and just).

Writing Is Good for You

Writing is good for you.It is well recognised that one of the best ways to focus the mind is to write things down. This can help you in your personal and working life. By writing we are not only using the conscious (thinking) brain but the subconscious (emotional) brain as well: the two parts of the brain working in harmony harnessing our rational thoughts and observations as well as tapping into our creativity.

Building New or Improved Skills from Your Role Models

Role ModelsIf you want to build or improve skills for yourself generally and for your career development in particular, here is an exercise sometimes known as the “shoe-stepping exercise” which is well worth using. By tapping into your own experience and observations you can select behaviours and strengths which you admire in others and learn to cultivate them yourself. Step into the shoes of a role model of yours; this could even be a colleague or a friend.

Google Tricks for Finding Useful Information

Google is the most popular Internet search engine used today. It indexes the greatest number of search pages and provides a free service for people to search this index in less than a second. In addition to providing easy access to billions of web pages, Google has many features that can help you find exactly what you’re looking for, which can be very useful when trying to find information at work or if you are working as a PA for your boss. Some of these features are listed below:

Should Squatting Be Criminalised?

The coalition government has recently announced that there will be a brief consultation period over the prospect of criminalising squatting in England. This has brought a very controversial subject to the table for deliberation, and we are already tending to notice how strong opinions are from each side of this argument.

We need to be very clear here, whether a civil or criminal matter, squatting is the unlawful occupation of property or land that does not belong to the “squatter”. Whichever way you choose to look at this issue, squatters will always be breaking the law if they choose to reside in accommodation or on land that is not theirs. However, those people stringently opposed to the criminalisation of squatting are quick to point out that there are a number of issues that are much broader here and that need to be considered.

The Frightening Statistics for the Validity of Wills

Following a mystery shopping exercise and report from Dr Dianne Hayter (Chair of the Legal Services Consumer Panel), some extraordinary and frightening statistics have emerged regarding the validity of wills – be this through a will writing service or even a Solicitor – all types of providers are often supplying a totally substandard service in this regard. In fact, it has been reported that as many as one in five wills that were thought to have been prepared professionally, may actually be invalid. Even the firms of Solicitors that were assessed showed an equal rate of invalidity to the will writing services, and these findings are quite rightly thought to be completely unsatisfactory.

Delivering an Assertive Message

Deliver an Assertive MessageHow many times have you bitten your tongue recently and then afterwards beaten yourself up for not saying what you thought? Or maybe you said what you thought, only you wished you hadn’t. Delivering a message assertively takes confidence and practice. And the more practice you get, the more your confidence grows, helping you develop the skill of assertiveness. So here are the top ten tips to help you deliver an assertive message:

Interpersonal Communication

nterpersonal COmmunicationThe most effective communicators use a style that can change on each occasion and be adapted for each individual. This brings out the best in everyone, especially if you are a manager or team leader. These skills need continual practice and fine-tuning until they become a natural response which is seen by others as appropriate across a wide range of situations. So here are the top ten tips to help you:

Changes to the Small Claims Regime May Force Parties to Mediate

Small Claims CourtWe consider when it is right to take a small claim and look at a number of tips to help you succeed.

In last month’s journal we considered the impact of the proposed increase to the small claims regime. One major effect is that it will be more important than ever to have a good understanding of civil litigation. If you have completed the Diploma course, you will be aware of the principles of litigation and this article may be a timely reminder. If you are yet to complete your Diploma, we will outline some top tips to consider when dealing with a potential claim.

Legal Abbreviations

ThelmaFor Legal Secretaries and PAs, it is important to know the vast array of abbreviations currently used in the legal world, and I seek to shed some light on the meaning of some of the most widely used legal abbreviations. Getting to grips with lawyers’ abbreviations will spring you forward in the right direction professionally. Secretaries are expected to research or look up commonly used legal abbreviations and, in particular, case references.

I worked for a Family Division Senior Partner who often recorded his dictation almost entirely in abbreviations. He would, for example, say, ‘at the FPC the judge in the case of Re: M (a minor) referred to [2004] 1 FLR 837 and FPR 4.2 when deciding with the CG whether to place the child in the care of the LA...’ Such phrases are common and probably even more complex now than ever before.

Prison Reform: Plead Guilty and Save 50%

Prison ReformDoes this sound like a supermarket special offer to you, too? The Government had recently proposed that when defendants plead guilty straight away to an offence they committed, in court, they should be entitled to receive a 50% reduction on their tariff of imprisonment. This was just one of the ways the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, was attempting to reduce the significant numbers within our prisons at the moment. As the Government is investigating ways in which money can be saved in all areas of the country’s expenditure, prison reform is definitely a burden on the taxpayer that is very high on the list.

Self-Confidence Is the Key to Success

How you feel about yourself is a key issue in achieving anything in life. A self-confident person has high self-esteem, self-respect, and belief in her- or himself.  By developing your self-confidence, you will be able to achieve your goals, take opportunities that come your way and also have the strength to overcome any obstacles.

Self-confidence is very important for having a successful career. If you do not have confidence in yourself and your abilities, how can you expect others to? When attending job interviews or hoping for a promotion, the way you behave and believe in yourself will ultimately create a win or a lose situation.

Here are five tips to help boost your self-confidence:

Should the United Kingdom Remain Within the EU?

UK and EUWell now, it would seem that this really is the $64,000 question! Ever since the UK joined the European Community (the name at that time) back in 1973, many citizens of this country have been outraged by the way in which they feel that ‘Europe’ has continually interfered with their lives. From the ‘Metric Martyrs’ to being told what  the shape of our bananas should be, it appears that very few UK citizens have much time, or respect, for the workings of the European Union.

The UK’s White Paper on the Natural Environment

natural choiceOn 7 June 2011, the UK government published ‘The Natural Choice’ – a white paper that outlines how the natural environment is going to be protected, restored and improved over the next 50 years.

This is the first white paper that has been published in 20 years, and it is directly linked to the findings made in the National Ecosystem Assessment that strongly proved how the natural environment must be looked after. It also acts on information found in a report on England’s wildlife sites called ‘Making Space for Nature’ by Professor John Lawton.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:

Use the Swish Technique to Handle Meetings or Presentations

SWISHThis technique is a powerful technique to calm the emotional subconscious brain and to build positive expectations, especially for 'one-off' situations like potentially difficult meetings or presentations. You can use this technique at any time when you are relaxed – first thing in the morning before you get up is often a good time. You don’t need to go into very deep relaxation, although you can.

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.

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).

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:

ILSPA’s Top Students

ILSPA's top studentsWe are often pleased to see a high calibre of Students pass through our hands, but recently we were delighted to see two Students achieve distinctions for the Legal Secretaries Diploma course, both with results of 99%. Our Course Assessor, Maria Richards, said that they were the highest results she has seen.

These Students have shown complete commitment to their career and an exceedingly high aptitude for learning law and producing documents. They are sure to go far in their careers, and one of the Students, Helen Wheeler, has already managed to secure a fantastic new job. Helen says:

More Secular Laws in the UK?

secular_lawsOne of the main observations made by the Pope on his visit to the United Kingdom last year was that our country is becoming more and more secular in nature. He expressed concern that we are departing from religious teachings and stated that he believed this to be potentially damaging to our society in the long term.

On the other hand, a growing proportion of our society adamantly does not believe in any religious order in the first place, least of all in those of the Roman Catholic Church. They believe that all religions have failed to evolve with the world in which they still exist. There is no denying the fact that today there is a battle within our legal system between those who would prefer our laws not to be based on outdated religious beliefs and those who still insist on following all the lessons to be found within the Bible.

Speaking in Meetings

Speaking in meetings and making mini-presentations in meetings can be nerve wracking at the best of times. Even experienced speakers can feel nervous and anxious when speaking at meetings. So here are the top 10 tips to make sure your presentation is enjoyed and remembered by everyone:

The Televising of Supreme Court Judgments

Ever since the highest court in the country changed from its title of the House of Lords to The Supreme Court, back in October 2009, it would seem that there has been a concerted effort to modernise our judicial system from the top down. This could certainly be said of the fact that on 16 May 2011, Supreme Court judgments were televised for the first time through Sky News.

Is this merely copying the United States of America, with their propensity to glamorise and televise their judicial system, or is there a genuine requirement for the hearings of the Supreme Court to be aired to the general population as a whole? This is an issue we will attempt to address within this article.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Attending Court as a Legal Secretary

Attending Court as a Legal SecretaryAttending court as a Legal Secretary must easily rank as one of the most rewarding and exciting aspects of the career. This is where the Legal Secretary will really start to feel that they are an integral part of the legal system, as a whole, and will gain a full appreciation of how the court system works and the wheels of justice turn within our country

In a previous role of employment, I have represented my own clients in court hearings and can therefore really empathise with what you could expect to gain from attending court as a legal secretary yourself. Physically leaving your law firm for a while, to undertake this nature of work, is highly motivating and interesting and a side to the role of a legal secretary that surpasses all others.

Confident Body Language

Confident body postureMany of us are sometimes unaware of our body language, especially at times when we are under stress. Body language has a large part to play in situations where we want to feel confident and to come over as such to others. So, it can be helpful to spend a little time being curious about our own tendencies and what messages we may be giving out. Sometimes the messages can be quite the reverse of what we want to convey in a particular situation.

It is widely accepted that 93% of communication is non verbal. So, our body language is a really important part of how we come over to others. The actual words we use are important, of course, but unless the other non verbal messages we are giving are consistent with the words, the words simply won’t register as we intend.

The main non verbal indicators for confidence are:

Mediation – A New Compulsory Step in Litigation?

Mediation Not LitigationAs part of an ongoing series of articles focusing on Civil Litigation, this month we are considering the growing importance of mediation. There has been a lot of effort over the last few years to reform the civil justice system. One of the key reasons for this has been the high cost of bringing claims to court.

A recent proposal aimed at reducing legal costs was made by the Conservative Secretary to the Ministry of Justice, Jonathan Djanogly. He has suggested that mediation should be compulsory in some civil cases. The aim of the proposal would be to keep more cases out of the court system.

Overcoming Procrastination

Overcoming ProcrastinationMany people have a tendency to procrastinate. This could be because the task is complicated, you’re unfamiliar with it, there’s a prospect of conflict or you simply prefer to socialise rather than work! But motivating yourself to ‘do’ rather than ‘avoid’ some tasks will result in higher levels of achievement, satisfaction, and increased self-belief and self-esteem. So here are the top 10 tips to help you do that:

Questioning for Understanding

‘Seek first to understand, then to be understood.’ This is just one of the habits of highly effective people taken from Stephen R Covey’s book. We primarily ask questions to get information, but questions are also a powerful communication tool to show that we are interested in the other person; that we care about what’s important to them; and that we are trying to understand their situation. So here are the top 10 types of questions and how to use them.

A Student Success Story

I have been an Executive PA for over 15 years now and I felt I needed a career change.  I have always wanted to study law, but because of the cost involved and finding the time out of working hours to do so, it proved next to impossible.  Then one day whilst paging through a magazine, I came across an advertisement on ILSPA's Legal Secretaries Diploma course.  I went on to their website and was impressed with their professionalism and most importantly the various topics covered in the course.  This combined with the convenience of distance learning and the affordable repayment terms made it very attractive.  Without any hesitation, I signed up immediately and have not regretted it since.

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.

Dealing With Negative People

We spend more time at work than at home with our family or out with our friends. The relationships which we have at work (whether with clients or colleagues) and how we react to the people involved make a significant contribution to our overall happiness and sense of well-being. Whilst some work relationships may build to become friendships outside work, friendship is not necessary for a successful work relationship.

So, what are the essential ingredients for successful work relationships? The main ones are:

Encouraging Course Advice for Students

Encouraging Course AdviceWhether you are studying the Legal Secretaries Diploma course by evening class or distance learning, we would like to encourage you to complete your studies. The Legal Secretaries Diploma is an excellent qualification and will help you to secure employment as a Legal Secretary or advance your existing career.

The beauty of our course is that there is no time limit to complete it. However, it is best to try to work through the course material at a constant and steady pace so that procrastination does not occur. Remind yourself of why you are doing the course and what it will mean to you once you are qualified.

Gaining Respect at Work

Gain Respect at WorkSome office environments are not for the faint of heart, where it can be hard not to feel self-conscious or awkward, even if you are a confident person in your personal life. However, it is not as difficult as it may seem to get the confidence you need to have successful relationships at work. Here are some tips to help you gain respect from your colleagues:

Be prepared – The Scout motto “Be prepared” holds true for everyone. Simply by being organised you will feel like you can tackle any situation. Keep an event planner or organiser and make use of your company’s calendar software. Do your homework before any meetings to make sure you know whom you are talking to and what you are talking about.

Personal Branding

Personal BrandingBranding, according to Scott Bedbury, is the sum total of everything a company does, including the good, the bad and even the off strategy, that creates a context or an identity in a consumer’s mind. Personal branding is therefore the creation of an asset that pertains to a particular person or individual, including but not limited to the body, clothing, appearance and knowledge contained within, leading to an indelible impression that is uniquely distinguishable. This ultimately means that a brand is not a product but a promise and mark of trust

The Recent Conflicts With the European Convention on Human Rights

European Convention on Human RightsEver since the United Kingdom ratified the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), as far back as 1950, for the most part it has seemed that this international law has been working very well for us. Indeed, the Human Rights Act 1998 was seen as an overdue, final acceptance of the laws contained within the convention. The previous Labour Government were determined to leave some kind of legacy for their period of administration, and this Act of Parliament is probably the most remembered.

The Supreme Court of Justice

Supreme CourtIn this article we are considering the Supreme Court formed just over a year ago. Having studied on the Diploma course, you will have already identified yourself to prospective employers as someone with a serious interest in the law. Being aware of current developments in the law and legal practice marks you as someone who has a continuing interest in developing his or her knowledge.

Useful Windows 7 Tips and Tricks

View Expanded “Send To” Menu

Sometimes you may want to quickly move a folder or file to another folder on your computer, network or even a mail recipient. One of the fastest ways of doing this is right-clicking the file/folder and choosing “Send To”.

You can get an expanded “Send To” menu by holding “Shift” and right-clicking on the file or folder. This will give you even more destinations for your document/folder.

Add Any Folder to Favourites

Working in Criminal Law

Working in Criminal LawThere are very few jobs that are as interesting and varied as working in criminal law. Whether this is by way of working as a Legal Secretary who specialises in this area of law or as a defending Solicitor or through The Crown Prosecution Service, there are many avenues allowing one to follow criminal law as a career path. If you have never studied law before or have but wish to pursue this branch of the legal system more intently, this article may well be for you.

Boost Your Immune System and Improve Your Work

Boost Your Immune SystemEvery winter, so many people are ill with colds and flu. They are unable to concentrate well, often with that disconnected feeling of not being a part of the world. There have been a host of unwelcome viruses this season and few offices seem to have escaped their reach. So, how can you boost your immune system to help keep these illnesses at bay?

There are readily available flu jabs, including those from certain supermarket pharmacies. That’s one port of call perhaps. However, there are other things which you can do to boost your immune system and help you stay in good health whatever the season.

A Good Sleep Pattern

Changes to Equality Law

Rights of equality for all members of our society is one of the most fundamental tenets of our legal system. The protection of minorities and the more vulnerable members of the community has been an issue that has been held dear by the previous Labour Government and now the coalition. With this in mind, the new Equality Act 2010 was enacted and the majority of the provisions under this statute came into effect from 1 October 2010.

Do More of Your Own Work

Do more of your own work.Do you sometimes end up doing tasks that others should be doing, leaving yourself less time to focus on your own priorities? If a member of your team comes to you with a query or a problem, do you hear yourself saying, ‘Leave it with me’ or ‘I’ll get back to you’, even if the other person is actually responsible for getting the task done? If this sounds like you, then here are the top ten tips to help you give them back their own work and allow you to do more of yours:

Positive Advice on Wills

Wills are not usually the subject of polite conversation, but they are rarely out of the news. Typically, wills become newsworthy only when things have gone terribly wrong. On this occasion, however, there is a positive reason why wills are being discussed across the nation, namely a new series on television, ‘Can’t Take It With You’. The programme aims to increase people’s awareness and highlight some of the emotional and financial pitfalls of wills and inheritance law.

The Law Commission’s Review of Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial AgreementsIt has been interesting to see how a certain area of family law has been pushed to the forefront of our attention lately: namely, the recognition of prenuptial agreements between married couples and civil partners in our legal system. Or perhaps, in the case of English law, we should be saying that the agreements are not actually recognised, at least automatically.

The recognition of prenuptial agreements as a legally binding contract between a couple has been very uncertain over previous years. Basically, it seems that for the most part, there was no real point in conceiving such an agreement in the first instance, as there was definitely no guarantee that it would be recognised in the unfortunate event of having to be relied upon, when the said couple were forced to pursue a divorce.

The Perfect Name

Efoli EkotIn recent times, I have read with rapt attention scores of articles on the title mania sweeping across professions today. Whilst many are feeling very uncomfortable being addressed as Secretaries, Legal Secretaries or Personal Assistants, many have since changed their job titles to Executive Assistant, Legal Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Corporate Assistant, Administrative Executive, etc. Ironically, this is not limited to the Secretarial profession; top management staff in some organisations, globally, now prefer to go by titles such as Executive Chairman, Group Managing Director, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director, Chief Financial Controller, etc., even when such titles sometimes do not match the holders’ job functions. Also, government officials/politicians, e.g.

Good Stress Management Skills

Stress can work for us or against us. Management of stress at the right level for us and for the task at hand is a really valuable skill. Without some level of stress we would never get up in the morning, nor would we be motivated to perform at our best or to do anything at all. So we can welcome stress, so long as we can control it effectively when we need to.

Should All Drugs Be Legalised?

Should Drugs be LegalisedThe debate over the legalisation of drugs has continued during the last month and has actually stepped up a notch, following former Home Office Minister Bob Ainsworth’s recommendation to legalise. Mr Ainsworth fervently believes that the UK is losing the so-called war on drugs. He feels that legalising even class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine will, in turn, take the control away from the criminal gangs and move us towards conquering this problem.

Don’t Blurt It Out!

Don't Blurt it OutYou know how it goes – your brain thinks it, and out it pops before you realise it. Sometimes it can be difficult to bite your tongue, especially if you aren’t in the habit of doing so! But that’s all it is, really: a habit. Luckily, there are some techniques you can use to break the habit. Here are the top 10 tips to help you stay in control.

Review of Civil Litigation Costs

Civil Litigation CostsThroughout last year we have focused on several specific areas of Civil Litigation procedure. For the final article on this subject we are going to take a look at what is just over the horizon for litigators.

The most important change happening in litigation relates to its biggest problem, namely that it is very expensive. In December 2009 we reviewed the 10-year anniversary of the Civil Procedural Rule (CPR). We noted that over a 20-year period, the legal cost of bringing a road traffic claim has risen by 840%. This kind of increase cannot be justified when other areas of legal practice, such as conveyancing, have become substantially less expensive.

Tighter Controls Over Tax-Swerving Companies?

Let’s face it: we had to tackle this highly controversial subject at some time or other! At a time when the UK’s economy has seen far better days and when local authorities and public bodies are forced to make dramatic cuts to their budgets, it cannot be helpful that some of the largest companies trading in this country are steering away from paying vast sums of tax to our government.

Using Apostrophes

Using ApostrophesOne of the most popular questions from our writing and grammar courses is “Can you have an apostrophe after an s?” And of course, as you all know, you can! The apostrophe is a little piece of punctuation that causes some of the biggest headaches and the most discussions (or arguments) in offices. So follow the 10 tips below and always get it right.