2012

Don’t Get Mad – Get eDiscovery!

 “King’s letters could be musings of a mad man” read the headline in Monday’s Metro (19 November 2012). 

What followed was a story describing how scientists at the University of London will attempt to analyse the letters of King George III using technology to look for patterns of words that might give some indication as to his state of mind at the time of writing. The idea of looking for relationships between words struck me as a familiar one.

Legal PA of the Year Awards 2012

On Wednesday 14 November, ILSPA co-sponsored and attended the Legal PA of the Year Awards 2012, which was hosted by Strictly Legal – a globally operating recruitment agency based in London. The awards ceremony took place at McQueen in Shoreditch, which won an award itself for being London’s best bar in 2010.

Relaxation Exercise – The Inner Smile

It’s essential to take the time to relax – to take a break from other things: work, home, other people. It is vital to maintain ourselves and our health, both physically and mentally. We really need to give priority to the time to relax regularly in order to recharge the batteries. Things can take on a fresh perspective when we make this time for ourselves; we can become more resilient and calmer all round.

Should Prisoners Have the Right to Vote?

A topic that has been in the news a lot recently is the question of whether prisoners should be allowed to vote in the UK. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that preventing prisoners from voting essentially denies them their human rights and is therefore against the law. In our society, there is a variety of opinions on this matter, and while Prime Minister David Cameron is vehemently opposed to the idea, Parliament is set to debate this question and make a ruling. 

Strictly the Best! Angela Dyos Wins Legal PA of the Year Award

angela-dyosIn front of an enthusiastic crowd of more than 200 attending the first national awards ceremony dedicated to legal services support staff, Angela Dyos from Clifford Chance was named 2012 Legal PA of the Year.

Angela, still a little dazed after receiving her award, said; I can't believe I have won. I have never done anything like this before. It has taken me out my comfort zone, as I have been with the same company for 18 years. It has been so rewarding.

Trainee Legal Secretary Scheme 2013

Top London law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has been running a trainee Legal Secretary (TLS) scheme for over 10 years with a fantastic success rate. The last five years alone have seen 100% retention, with all the programme’s trainee Legal Secretaries securing permanent secretarial positions within the firm.

A Lawyer’s Interesting and Embarrassing Experiences – Part 2

Last month, I promised to tell you about my ‘run-in’ with His Honour Judge Claude Duveen of Slough County Court. This happened in the mid-1970s whilst I was with Campbell Hooper & Austin Wright at their Sunningdale/Ascot branch office – a very upmarket firm with some famous clients, such as Diana Dors, England’s answer to Marilyn Monroe. In fact, Ms. Dors was the English equivalent of all the blonde bombshells of Hollywood.

A Lawyer’s Interesting and Embarrassing Experiences - Part 1

Many people think that lawyers are dull fellows (or Fellows) and picture them wading through dusty tomes in dusty offices with quill pens in hand and sour expressions on their sour faces. Not a bit of it! (Although, I must admit, I can think of one firm of Solicitors in a smallish town in Devon, not a million miles away from Exeter, that does not seem to have been able to dig itself out of the Dickensian past – but they are an exception.)

Are You Assertive?

Everyone recalls a time or a particular situation when we wish we had been more assertive. Assertive communication is all about putting our point of view over – clearly and calmly, free from the distortion of mood or circumstances – so that we can best communicate how we feel about something and what we need as a result.

Solar Panel Installations

Last month we looked at the Green Deal. Another trend for renewable energy in homes is the installation of solar PV (photovoltaic) technology. 

The Feed-In Tariff was launched in April 2010 and aimed to encourage Britons to install renewable energy systems. The tariff rewards the owners of green energy systems by paying them for the power they create. From 1 April 2012, the Feed-In Tariff available from the installation of solar panel arrays has been linked to energy efficiency ratings, and therefore homeowners are no longer automatically entitled to the highest tariff rates available. Although this may have had a negative impact on the number of people signing up for the program, PV technology has been included in the Government's list of approved energy-efficient measures for Green Deal qualification, and therefore it is forecast to deliver a welcome boost to the solar industry.

Study Matrimonial, Civil Partnership and Family Proceedings Law

The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs features a range of single-subject legal courses which are designed to provide you with a good understanding of one specific area of law. Whether you are already working within a certain area of law and want to advance your knowledge, or you would like to secure a position in an area that interests you, ILSPA’s single-subject legal courses are the perfect way to focus on exactly what you want to learn in order to have a successful career.  

Don’t Try to Manage Time, Manage Your Activities

You can’t really “manage” time, which is why I’m not the biggest fan of the term “time management”. I use it only – and then only very reluctantly – because that’s the term most people are familiar with.

But in actuality, the only thing you can control is what you do with your time; you’re really managing your activities, not your time.

New National Awards Scheme Recognises Vital Role of Legal PAs

Every year scores of awards are up for grabs for Lawyers and HR teams but never for Legal PAs or Secretaries. This has now changed! One of the UK’s leading legal Secretarial and PA agencies, Strictly Legal, has launched the inaugural Legal PA of the Year Awards. The process offers a unique opportunity to recognise the vital role that Legal PAs and Managers play in the industry. 

The Green Deal

Following the Energy Act 2011, a new government initiative known as the Green Deal is due to become active on 1 October 2012. This is designed to install new green technology into homes without the owner having to pay an upfront cost. Instead, the costs are paid back through your energy bill over a period of time.

World Rhino Day 2012

22 September 2012 marked the third Annual World Rhino Day. Many of you may have heard about it, but some of you may not have. One thing for sure is that we have all heard about the plight of the rhino at some point. Having grown up in South Africa during the ’80s and ’90s, I hold rhino conservation very close to my heart. At least once a week the news would break that a poacher ring had been dismantled by force.

Are You Sure That Your Insurance Is Assured?

Assured InsuranceInsurance Law is a tricky subject – and a very specialised one as well, because commerce and trade depend very much upon it, and therefore sums insured in certain circumstances can be astronomical. Take, for example, the loss that could incur if a large Boeing 757 with 300 passengers aboard crashed in the middle of a city, killing all the passengers and devastating 200 yards square of housing, its occupants, their cars and their furniture.

Brave Tony Nicklinson’s Legal Battle

The controversial question of euthanasia has been brought to the fore once again in recent months as Tony Nicklinson took his fight for a dignified death to the courts. Last week Mr Nicklinson’s application to the courts was denied, and a week later, after refusing nourishment or medical treatment, he died from pneumonia. This debate, like others that deal with an issue that sits at the crossroads of religious and ethical matters, has brought about both intelligent discussion and a recession into vitriol, hate and judgment.

Celebrate National PA Day at Office in London

National PA DayIf you haven’t already heard, 12 September 2012 is National PA Day. This will be the 2nd annual celebration of Britain’s PAs – the people who make Britain’s offices work – so why not be part of it by spending the day with your fellow PAs at Office?

This annual day will celebrate Britain’s PAs – the unsung heroes of Britain’s offices – and aims to highlight the increasing importance of the estimated 600,000 highly skilled PAs working in offices across the UK and to promote the profession to well-educated young people seeking an exciting and stimulating career.

Identifying Your Strengths and Weaknesses as a Student

There are many people who believe that the life of a Student is an easy and carefree one. But this is not necessarily true. The practises and habits that you set in place when you are a Student will often remain with you for the rest of your life and lead to your success. So it is important to realise that you have both strong points and weak points, and to then do what you can to improve yourself.

Negative Thoughts in the Witness Box

Challenging unhelpful negative thoughts is a skill. These thoughts are not facts, and by challenging them we can differentiate between what is real and what is distorted emotional interpretation. When we temper and control the emotional black-and-white thinking, which comes from an agitated emotional brain, we can better access our thinking rational brain (our higher intelligence) and see things with a far clearer perspective. This is good emotional intelligence, not least because it is fair, realistic and balanced.

The Purpose and Procedure for Making Oaths and Affirmations

Once you’ve taken the Oath or given an Affirmation in Court you are legally obliged to be completely honest. If you’re caught out lying you can be charged with perjury, contempt of Court or even perverting the course of justice. Lying under oath can be both a criminal and a civil offence. The punishment could include a fine and/or a jail sentence, depending on what effect the lie has.

Will New Dog Laws Finally Protect Postal Workers?

New legislation has recently come into effect regarding the punishment of dangerous dogs and their owners. The new guidelines outlined by the legislation serve a dual function. Firstly, they seek to guide the courts in making consistent, strict and fair judgments when it comes to dangerous dog attacks; secondly, they are designed so that these judgments act as a deterrent against further dog attacks. However, who is the legislation really meant to serve and protect?

A New Disclosure and Barring System to Protect the Vulnerable

When people who should not be in such work manage to slip through the cracks in the pavement and enter professions where vulnerable children or adults are involved, this is an issue that is always guaranteed to create a high level of controversy in society. After all, the vulnerable are the people we should always make every effort to protect the most, and when there has been a breach of trust, this is something we have to learn from and we must ensure the same thing never happens again.

Civil Litigation – Access to Justice

In our second article reviewing the pending reforms to litigation procedure, we will consider how justice will be accessed under a reformed system.

This article might create a strong sense of déjà vu for any litigator because civil procedure has been here before. The briefest look at history shows that in the last 100 years there have been 63 reports and inquiries into the civil justice system. Most of these reports focused around three perennial problems of cost, delay and complexity. If you have been following the previous Journal articles on litigation, you will already know that the two most recent reports were: - 1) Lord Woolf’s report delivered in 1995, entitled ‘Access to Justice’; and 2) Lord Justice Jackson’s report from December 2009 on civil costs.

Google Chrome Extensions to Enhance Your Internet Research

These days pretty much everyone who does some sort of research as part of their job makes extensive use of the Internet to find information. Keeping track of bookmarks and quoted text and managing passwords for multiple forums and research sites can become quite a chore. Here are SOME extensions you can install on the Google Chrome browser to make your work a little easier.

How Best to Apply for a Legal Secretary or PA Job

As you work your way through the Legal Secretaries Diploma course, there may be a part of you that feels anxious about how you are going to secure a job as a Legal Secretary or PA. This is perfectly understandable, as you are only human. Rest assured that some of the other students will be feeling exactly the same way. The good news is that there are some excellent resources on offer when you decide to study through the Institute, and these include CV help, career guidance and access to a wealth of information that could really help you to move forward.

I Need a Lucky Break!

I expect at some point in your life – perhaps more than once – you’ve said this. When you’ve said it, you most probably meant something like “I wish some significant good fortune will come my way soon!”

Reading the Daily Express on my flight to Spain on 25 June, I came across a small article on a poll carried out by the children’s literacy charity, ‘Volunteer Reading Help’.  In their study of 500 Chief Executives, Managers and other high earners, they found that hard work, charm, persistence, warmth, intelligence and a sense of humour were high amongst the ingredients for success. It also revealed that luck, fate and good timing also help.

The Smoking Ban: Five Years On

When the smoking ban finally came into force on 1 July 2007, for the most part, it was quite well received by the English public. After all, England was the last country of the United Kingdom to implement the ban and many other countries (such as Ireland and the United States) had banned smoking in public places many years before.

Unhelpful Thinking Tendencies (Part II)

Once we are aware of any one or more unhelpful thinking tendencies, we can then begin challenging unnecessarily negative thoughts and practise using different language which better reflects the shades of grey of reality, training the brain to move further away from instinctive black-and-white (emotional) thinking. Here are some examples of some typical black-and-white thinking styles and possible contrasting ways of looking at things.

Are You Your Firm’s Greatest Asset?

AssetWell, actually, no! You’re not its greatest asset, but you are part of its second-greatest asset, and that is something, in itself, to think about! Why? I’ll tell you later.

What, then, is your firm’s greatest asset? It’s their clients. Why? Well, without them there would be no firm, no business, no partners and no staff, because there would be no money coming in! So clients are extremely important – you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to appreciate that – as Aleksandr Orlov Meerkat would say – ‘Simples’!

Being Aware of Unhelpful Thinking Tendencies

Unhelpful ThinkingThe conscious (thinking) brain and the subconscious (emotional) brain

Our brain is a complex and fascinating organ. The thinking (conscious) brain operates at an intellectual level, giving us perspective and good problem-solving capability. When it works in healthy harmony with our emotional (subconscious) brain, we function at our best and can be at our most robust and resilient in dealing with whatever life throws at us. Research has shown that the emotional brain processes around 2 million pieces of information every second. In contrast, the thinking brain can hold only between five and nine things in conscious awareness at any one time. So, of necessity, all the pieces of information that the emotional brain deals with (like blinking, regulating blood pressure, telling us when we need food, etc., as well as the range of feelings and thoughts which it generates) need to be filtered before being brought into conscious awareness. The brain’s own filter mechanism is capable of developing and retaining unhelpful negative processes, the three most usual culprits being deletion, distortion and generalisation.

Civil Litigation – Reform to Costs

Civil LitigationIn our first review article on the pending reforms to civil litigation we will be looking in more depth at the changes intended to limit legal costs.

This is not the first time that legal costs have been in the spotlight. One of the highlights of the last set of reforms1 to our litigation system in the late 1990s was the attempt to address legal costs. It has been argued that, despite improvements made to the rules over the years, legal costs in litigation have remained stubbornly high. The current changes2 are due to be implemented in April 2013. We will examine below two key alterations to existing litigation procedure, namely the increased use of fixed fees and changes to how claims are funded.

Impeachment: The Guard of National Democracy and Public Accountability

Introduction

My country (the Philippines) today, our highest judge was successfully impeached and just removed from power. But how do countries around the world treat the word “impeachment” as part of democratic process to ensure the public accountability principle? Our constitution provides the slogan of “Public Office is a Public Trust”.

Maintaining Self-Discipline During Your Studies

Self DisciplineHave you recently decided to return to studying after a long break? Perhaps it has been many years since you last found yourself in such a position, and now that you have enrolled on one of the Institute’s courses, you are hoping that you will feel enthusiastic right through to the end. Enthusiasm is a common emotion to feel at the start of a course of study, although it is sometimes difficult to maintain. Rest assured that there are ways in which you can control such emotions, and ensure that you remain steadfastly committed and enthused by the course.

The Criminalisation of Forced Marriages

Forced MarriageAs citizens of the United Kingdom we can take pride in the fact that we live in one of the most liberal and tolerant societies in the whole world. This is one of the most fundamental reasons why so many people are attracted to the idea of coming to live here. Generally, British people really do try to be open to the cultures from other parts of the world, and the term ‘multiculturalism’ aptly describes the way in which people from many different backgrounds are able to live perfectly harmoniously.

The United Kingdom or United Republic?

With all of the recent celebrations for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, we Brits were able to remind ourselves of the fact that we have the most popular monarch in the whole world as our head of state. Indeed, other kingdoms around the world have felt a certain amount of envy as they watched our country celebrate with what we are best known for: pomp and ceremony. As for the republics in the world, let’s face it, we all know how certain countries love to lap our royal family up, and you definitely get the sense that these countries can regret their republican status at such times.

Challenging Negative Self-Talk

There are times when we talk to ourselves critically. Perhaps we just think it, or perhaps we voice it out loud. “I’ll never get this right.” “I’m such an idiot.”

Phrases like this are a sure sign that emotional hijacking is at work. If we become aware that this is going on, however, we can challenge the thought rather than become a helpless victim to it. Challenging allows us to better control our emotions. The emotions are sure to be giving us some message, but the real message is more than likely to be obscured by emotional hijacking and so we risk misinterpreting what is actually going on.

Civil Litigation Reforms

A Summary of the Effect of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

For several months we have been following the passage of the controversial Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) through Parliament. This month, despite 14 defeats for the government in the House of Lords, it has now become an Act. The changes to civil litigation will be the most comprehensive since the Civil Procedural Rules (CPR) were introduced over 12 years ago. These reforms were not unexpected, and if you look back through the Institute’s journal articles since 2010 you will see many references to Lord Justice Jackson’s Report on Civil Litigation and costs.1 It has already taken two years for the Jackson reforms to hit the statute books, and it is expected to take until April 2013 for the changes to be made in legal practice.

How the Queen Plays a Part in our Legal System

From 2 to 5 June the Diamond Jubilee celebrations will take place to mark 60 years of the Queen’s reign. The Queen came to the throne on 6 February 1952, and her coronation took place on 2 June 1953. What better time to take a look at how the Queen is involved with our various laws?

The British Sovereign can be seen as having two roles: Head of State, in which the Queen undertakes constitutional and representational duties; and Head of the Nation, where her role is less formal but no less important for the social and cultural functions it fulfils.

ILSPA’s High Achiever

The Legal Secretaries Diploma is studied by a wide range of students of varying ages and different backgrounds. Whether you are young and just starting out in your career or you are an experienced professional and want solid career direction, our course is suited to you. One of our students, Annabel Hammond, proves the latter. We were very pleased to see that she achieved a distinction for our course with a result of 99%. This is an extremely high achievement and shows that Annabel has great attention to detail and an excellent understanding of law and legal procedures.
 

ILSPA’s New Website Provides More Benefits for Members

The Institute is delighted to inform you that our new website will be launched on Wednesday 6 June. We have worked on it with much love and care to provide our Members and the public with an attractive and welcoming place to find the information they need to progress in their careers. ILSPA is dedicated to helping you with your career every step of the way, and we will be providing more benefits for Members.

One of the many benefits of Membership is having access to the exclusive Membership area on our website. This has been redesigned and encompasses a wealth of useful information and resources for Members:

The ASBO ‘Badges of Honour’ Are to Be Removed!

Over the years since I have been writing articles for The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, I have covered the topic of anti-social behaviour on a number of occasions. This is mainly down to the fact that this particular subject means so much to all of us; after all, it is a huge issue within many of our neighbourhoods, and there are high levels of frustration when it comes to how people feel local authorities, the police and the criminal justice system are dealing with such problems.

Should the Rights to IVF Treatment Be Extended?

If you are already aware of the new recommendations that have been put forward from NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) to extend the right to IVF fertility treatment to slightly older women, same-sex couples and other groups of people, you will have noticed just how heated this debate has become lately. It would seem that everyone holds a strong opinion on this topic, with very few people deciding to sit on the fence.

Thinking Outside the Box

If at first you don’t succeed – take a different approach!

There are two ways of tackling a problem – logically and creatively. Most people use the former approach. However, many problems just cannot be solved logically, because we are used to making assumptions about the information that we gather in an effort to try and overcome the problem. It is important, with problem solving, to beware of having fixed ideas.

Clear Your Mind

Clear Your MindWe all carry around a fair amount of emotional baggage – things which have annoyed or worried us, whether they are to do with work, home or our social life. These things can create emotional clutter in the mind unless we develop healthy ways to clear them out so we can concentrate better on what is good for us.

Furthering Your Knowledge as a Legal Secretary

CPDAfter months of determination your hard work has paid off, and you have now qualified as a Legal Secretary. Some of you may wish to further your qualifications and strive for a career as a Paralegal or even as a Solicitor or Barrister. Whilst others are satisfied that they have an excellent qualification to be proud of, does this mean it is the end of developing your knowledge and skills?

House of Lords Reforms

House of Lords ReformsThe subject of House of Lords reforms has been continually discussed for more than 100 years. Many of us have come to believe that the possibility of any real reform is a myth. For some, the House of Lords itself is like an archaic myth – do they really refer to one another as ‘noble lord’ and ‘noble baroness’? And what work do they really do? Now the current coalition Government has decided that it wants to have another crack at reform.

Law Commission Report Wants ‘Dead’ Laws Repealed

The Law Commission1 recommended at the beginning of this month that more than 800 old laws be removed from the statute books. The recommendations cover laws on poor relief, lotteries, turnpikes and Indian railways. The oldest legislation dates back to 1322 (Statutes of the Exchequer), and the most recent is part of a Taxation Act from 2010. This is the largest of the Law Commission’s reports (there have been 18 others to date) on removing outdated laws. It is likely that their recommended Statutory Law (Repeal) Bill will be accepted by Parliament this summer as (another!) law on the statute books. 

Paralegals Shall Assist Parties in Small Claims Courts

One of our Associate Members, Clint Diesto from the Philippines, has written an article on the importance of Paralegals in small claims cases. The fundamental question is, when should Paralegals appear in order to assist a litigant?

Imagine yourself at a collection suit hearing in a tribunal or court where you have to appear before a Judge. Although you have been informed that this is an informal hearing and you have to raise a point of inquiry before the Judge, you cannot express it confidently because you are afraid you will be misquoted by the court.

What is a Paralegal?

What is a Paralegal?The term “Paralegal” is used in most jurisdictions to describe a professional who assists qualified lawyers. This is the case in the US. However, in England and Wales the profession has yet to agree on a definition, and thus much confusion has existed in this area. The term, introduced in the UK in 1987 by the National Association of Licensed Paralegals, defines a “Paralegal” as a person who is qualified through education and training to perform substantive legal work; who requires knowledge of the law; and who is not a qualified Solicitor, Barrister or Legal Executive.

Stronger Legislation to Protect Victims of Dog Attacks

Dog AttacksOwning a dangerous dog is seen as a status symbol by some, and in spite of the Dangerous Dogs Act of 1991, recent years have seen a rise in the number of dog attacks across the UK. Children are most often the victims of aggressive and violent dogs. Many feel that even though the Dangerous Dogs Act was amended in 1997, it still lacks the teeth to make any real difference. Will the recent plan for making it mandatory to micro-chip all newborn puppies be enough to curb the rising trend of violent dog attacks?

Achieving Personal Objectives

Avhieving ObjectivesDo you need to stretch yourself more in terms of development?  Do you wish you could achieve more?  Do you sometimes feel stuck in a rut?  Set yourself some personal objectives to achieve.  To help you achieve them, here are the top ten tips, including the SMART model:

Legal Regulations for Cosmetic Surgeries

Cosmetic SurgeryWe live in the age of images and illusions, where two-dimensional airbrushed images of perfect men and women flash before our eyes constantly, whether it is on TV screens, on billboards or in magazines. As image and external appearance are perceived to be more and more important in our society, it is not surprising that cosmetic surgery is more popular today than ever before.

How to Effectively Control Your Emotions

Control Your EmotionsThe typical work life of Legal Secretaries or Legal PAs, especially those working with top executives, is very challenging, time constraining and full of trying relationships often resulting from conflicts of interest.  Universally, it is believed that ineffective communication, unhealthy competition, personality clashes, conflicting interests, jealousy, time constraints and unclarified assumptions are the major causes of conflict.  Often

Mind Your (Body) Language

Words are only a very small part of communication.  While you are saying the words, your body may well be saying something else.  Or even if you don’t say anything, your body language will still have said it for you!  So here are the top ten tips to help you get your message across in the way you intend:

Will Tougher Legislation Help to Prevent the UK Binge Drinking Culture?

The imposition of the minimum 40p charge on a unit of alcohol in England has garnered mixed reactions. Some say this along with the rest of the proposed ‘Responsibility Deal’ is a sham and will do nothing to actually curb the so-called drinking epidemic or to improve public health. The more optimistic ones feel that it is a start and it is regulations like these that can help sort out the problem. But what exactly is the problem?

Give Your Life a Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air, and many people start to think about spring cleaning their homes at this time of year. But what about our lives? We can bring positive energy into our lives by eradicating negative areas and old habits.

Much like your home, your mind gets cluttered and needs care. It can get overloaded with old attitudes, old emotions and old memories, and it needs a good clean out of the stuff that you have collected and are holding on to out of habit or neglect. If you let these things go and free up some room for a positive mindset and new, exciting challenges, you can gain a flexible, simple and happier lifestyle.

Help Yourself, Help Others?

We have previously reported on how the changes to legal aid and civil costs were likely to mean more people would have to act on their own behalf as litigants in person (“Going it Alone,” October 2011). The full extent of the reforms remains uncertain as the Government’s Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill remains stalled in the House of Lords. Despite the uncertainty, organisations are continuing to ready themselves for substantial change.

The Changing World of Media Distribution and Copyright Law

The past few months have seen a few hastily written copyright protection laws being drafted, nearly passed and then abandoned after massive public outcry in both Europe and the USA. These bills were SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) in the USA and ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) in Europe. SOPA and PIPA have effectively been abandoned, and ACTA has been put on the back burner while European lawmakers review it to make sure it is constitutional and does not violate any fundamental human rights.

The Decriminalisation of Possession of Drugs

When it comes to the subject of illegal drugs in this country, it would appear that we all have a strong opinion to air on the matter. We are all filled with fear over the prospect of a child or other family member becoming embroiled in a drug-dependent lifestyle and therefore fully recognise why there are criminal sanctions in place to control things. However, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) fervently believe that prosecuting people who are found in possession of drugs is not the right way forward in this country, and they even recently furnished the Government with such a recommendation for decriminalisation.

The European Court of Human Rights and the UK

If you ask any politician for their opinion on the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights, you are likely to see eyebrows rise and hear air being sucked over the teeth – the fact is that this international court is definitely not popular in the UK at the moment! Most main political parties are agreed that the European Court of Human Rights is actually proving to be detrimental to the security of the British public, and it seems apparent that our commitment to such international law needs to be considered very seriously in the future.

The STOP Exercise to Enhance Focus and Informed Choice

The STOP ExcercisePaying attention is the window to all of our experiences every day of our lives. Where and how we place our focus of attention (or where and how we allow other things to grab our attention) determine the quality of our lives, and our relationships with ourselves, others and what the world has to offer. What we know of ourselves, how we feel physically and emotionally, and our ability to make informed choices are all influenced by both how we focus attention and the quality of that attention.

Cutting the Red Tape – How to Sew a Legal Document

The term ‘cutting the red tape’ is believed to have derived from the works of Charles Dickens; an international campaign in February marked the bicentenary of the writer’s birth.

The expression relates to avoiding bureaucratic barriers to fulfilling an objective and is often applied to government, corporations or other large organisations. It also refers to tape that is in fact now pink in colour (originally the red faded to pink over time, and therefore, probably to save money, it was later manufactured in pink!) which is used to tie up bundles of official papers. Pink tape is still in use today in legal circles. Such tape is strong, cotton-like material which has been dyed.

Add Value to Your Role

Add value to your role.Are you excellent at what you do? Have you reached 'the top of your tree'? Are you seeking a greater challenge although you don't want a new job? Or are you looking at how to make more of the role you have? If so, it can sometimes feel as though you don't know where to start! So here are the top ten tips to help you seek out challenges and add value to your role.

Calls for Tougher Legislation in Scrap Metal Trade

Considering that the current legislation regulating the scrap metal industry is contained in the Scrap Metals Dealers Act 1964, it is not difficult to imagine how this law has become flaccid and unfit for purpose in the twenty-first century. It is fair to say that when this statute was brought into law, there was nothing like as many thefts of metal across the country as there are today.

Learn How to Relax

If you ever find yourself getting tense or stressed out at work, there is an exercise which can help you. It was developed by American physiologist and physician Edmund Jacobson in the late 1930s, and it works on the basis of gradually tensing and then releasing tension in individual muscle groups in sequence. Muscles are always more relaxed after being tensed and released. This practice automatically brings physical relaxation which, in turn, calms the mind and our emotions.

Should Three-Parent IVF Be Legalised?

Three Parent IVFThe subject of three-parent in vitro fertilisation has come as somewhat of a surprise to me: I had no idea such a thing was scientifically possible! However, the Department of Health has apparently approached the fertility regulator to find out whether or not three-parent IVF may be an acceptable technique in the future and has therefore opened a public consultation over this issue.

Taking Minutes: Part 2

In December I gave you tips on how to prepare to take minutes at a meeting. This month we will focus on how to take the notes at a meeting, whether it is a formal meeting with an agenda or an informal team meeting. So, after you have prepared, here are the top ten tips to help you take notes at meetings:

Changes to How Civil Claims Are Issued

cicil_claimsThis month we had hoped to advise you about the current state of reforms to the civil litigation system. We are not able to do this, however, as the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO) is having a rough ride through the House of Lords. For those of you who have studied on the Diploma course and developed an interest in how the Lords influences (and arguably, improves) our laws, this is a good bill to follow.

Attitudes About Tattoos in Employment Law

With more and more people in our society choosing to embrace body art, current attitudes towards tattoos are starting to be questioned. It would appear that there is still the misconception that only thugs and lower-class individuals choose to have tattoos. Statistics show, however, that body art has well and truly crossed the class divide, and people from every walk of life now wish to express themselves in such a way.

Backup and Synchronise Your Files With Dropbox

I have written before about various options for keeping your data backed up for the dreaded moment when disaster strikes or your computer fails beyond repair. Realising that you have lost your important documents, or having the tech team at the local computer store say that you should have backed up your data before bringing your computer in for repair, is not a good feeling.

Cutting-Edge Wills

When you think of writing a will, it is unlikely that what comes to mind are issues about cutting-edge technology, but that is exactly what some practitioners are now thinking about. Wills and probate, like any area of the law, must try to keep moving with the times. Changes in how society uses technology mean that lawyers need to be aware of new issues that affect how wills are prepared and what matters they should cover.

Understanding Your Rights Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979

Understanding Your RightsAs many thousands of people look to return their unwanted Christmas gifts in January, it is definitely worth refreshing your memory on the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and how this affects your rights as a consumer. After all, when you think about it, this Act of Parliament focuses on an area of law that we are all involved with on an everyday basis.