2013

Legal Professional Salaries

The world of law changes on a regular basis, so Douglas Scott Legal Recruitment has kicked off its annual Big Data Survey and is inviting legal employees all over the UK to take part.

The salary and benefits benchmarker was launched last year and immediately acknowledged within the legal industry for shining a spotlight on all the issues facing legal recruitment, as well as for spotting trends within the ever-changing legal landscape. 

Social Suicide: Is Your Facebook Profile Putting Employers Off?

Funny Facebook photos might give your friends and family a giggle, but what would a potential employer think of your hen party antics or you with your head down the loo on New Year’s Day? Did you know that around a third of employers now scan Facebook profiles to get more information on job candidates? Alarmingly, of these, a third say what they find puts them off hiring the candidate.
 

Child Maltreatment Bill 2013-14

If you have covered Constitutional Law in some detail, you will appreciate just how difficult it can be to get Private Members’ Bills pushed all the way through both houses of Parliament in order to become law. Only a very small percentage of these bills acquire Royal Assent and become statutes. Therefore, it is interesting when a Private Member’s Bill appears to be attracting more attention than usual, especially when it covers such an important aspect of family and criminal law. 

Dealing With Illness Whilst Studying

While we can all agree that the autumn can be exceptionally beautiful in many ways – what with the glorious changing colours all around us – we would also tend to concur in that the dreaded colds do their rounds at this time of the year. 

If you are currently midway through studying for your Legal Secretaries Diploma with The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, it is important to understand how we can help you.

Practising the Art of Shorthand

In my younger days people would say that shorthand and typing were “such useful skills” and that one would scarcely be out of a job with such aptitudes tucked under one’s belt.

‘Shorthand’ includes many types both written with the pen and produced by machines. Pitman, Gregg and Teeline are renowned pen methods, whereas Stenotype and Palantype are well-known machine systems.

Recent Developments in the Law of Contract

This month we are considering a recent Supreme Court case and whether it affects the Law of Contract. The Law of Contract is covered in Unit 2 of ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course, where the elements of what makes a legally binding agreement are considered. As with any area of law, there are continual developments which your regular reading of the Legal Secretaries Journal and News section of our Membership area should help you keep up to date with.

Why I Enrolled With ILSPA

I enrolled for the Legal Secretaries Diploma course due to the fact that since I was young I always dreamt of being a Solicitor. As I grew up, I undertook experience in major law firms – Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Pinsent Masons. After these experiences my passion for law was confirmed, so I sought to look for relevant experience and to get a qualification before I began my Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL).

Influences on Parliamentary Law-Making

This month we are doing something a little different and looking at the big picture so far as English law is concerned. This is something that is covered in the first unit of the Legal Secretary Diploma so that students can get a good grasp of how English laws are created. By knowing something about the ‘big’ picture, you are showing an interest in the same thing that intrigues many lawyers.

Is Your CV Grammar Letting You Down?

It’s official – employers have zero patience when it comes to CV grammar and spelling. When asked, ‘What is the biggest turn-off for you to see on a candidate’s CV?’ the top answer employers gave was poor grammar and spelling mistakes, according to a recent survey. Recruitment consultancy Nicoll Curtin asked 550 companies, and a massive 65 percent pointed to CV errors as their ultimate bugbear.

Proofreading Tips

Faster-Outlook-with-Shortcut-Keys.jpgAs a Legal Secretary or PA, you may be required to proofread a document before it is sent out. This means checking it over carefully yourself or reading it out loud with someone else who also has a copy. You may even be asked to just look something over for someone.

The Benefits of Studying from Home

Studying with the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs can be done by distance learning from home. This facility allows you to be in complete control of your time. With most people now having a computer and Internet access, taking a distance learning course is becoming a very popular way to study. 

You Can Start Your Course at Any Time of Year

Alternative Routes for Legal Secretaries Diploma Graduates

The role of a Legal Secretary in the United Kingdom is viewed as a specialist niche area within the legal profession. Law firms rely heavily on Secretaries due to their expertise in administration and technology and their knowledge of law and legal procedures. Based on that theory, Legal Secretaries are beneficial not just to law firms.

Employment Law Updates in 2013

Employment law updates are not broadly announced unless you look for them. On 29 July 2013, updates to current employment legislation were made under government reforms. There were only a handful of planned reforms that launched on 29 July; nevertheless, these reforms should be highlighted for both employers and employees. 

National Minimum Wage Increase

Legal PA of the Year Awards 2013

Following the massive success of last year’s awards and after months of preparation and work behind the scenes, nominations for the Legal PA of The Year Awards are now OPEN!

Shining a light on the UK's most inspirational Legal PAs and Secretaries, the Legal PA of The Year Awards is the only ceremony of its kind fully supported by the legal profession.

The categories open this year are:

The Importance of Good Client Care

This month we will consider a recent publication by the Legal Ombudsman about client care1 and note what lessons might be learnt. The leaflet contains many general points about client care, but in particular it focuses on vulnerable clients such as the elderly and issues they might have. This is a subject that those who have completed the Wills, Probate and Administration unit of the Legal Secretaries Diploma course will be familiar with. 

The Relocation of ILSPA’s Head Office

ILSPA’s head office is now based in the heart of Devon within the beautiful grounds of Dartington Hall Estate. We have had the opportunity to expand to a fantastic office suite in a setting which is inspiring and peaceful. It is very much a contrast to the busy London environment we operated from previously, but we feel that it is a positive move which has encouraged productivity and motivation within the company. 

Tougher Legislation Needed for Online Trolls and Bullies

The topic of online trolls and bullies is hot news at the moment, but it’s also been around for some time. The tragic death of Hannah Smith has highlighted this issue and brought to the attention of parents and other people that while online media has its benefits, it hides a dark flaw and allows people to abuse and bully. Unfortunately many people clearly feel that nothing can or will be done to prevent such overt abuse.

Family Law – a Detailed Consideration of the LASPO Act

On 1 April 2013, the provisions of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act came into effect to cut the legal aid bill. Legal aid has been withdrawn for clients who are involved in family disputes such as child residency disputes. Prior to the changes in April, the Legal Services Commission enabled Family Law clients access to legal aid for all services. 

How the Changes Affect Family Law 

Guidance on the Information Provided by Property Sellers

This month we will consider the Law Societies Property Information Form (TA6) and explain in more depth how it is used in a normal domestic property sale. We will also try to explain what the seller’s responsibilities are when answering the questions on this form and highlight some of the serious consequences that can follow if information provided by a seller proves to be false.

Purpose of the Form 

The Varied Approaches to Job Applications and Interviews

As we become more technology savvy across all industries, there has been an impact on the recruitment process. In the past, a straightforward printed CV, sent in the post with a covering letter, would be the standard procedure of application; however, times have changed. Video CVs, online CVs, online automatic applications, all mean that there are a number of ways that jobs can now be targeted.

What to Do After a Rejection Letter

In a law jobs market as competitive as today’s, it is likely that an active jobseeker will have to face up to many rejections. Letters, phone calls and emails bringing the news that you have not been selected for the Legal Secretary job you set your sights on are painful to receive. There may be times when you feel like giving up, especially if you are experiencing several rejections in succession.

Should There be a Limit on Legal Aid in Criminal Law?

The Criminal Justice System in British Law has one fundamental basis. Innocent until proven guilty, and this entitles a person who is charged with a crime the right to a defence and a defence Lawyer. If a person is arrested and charged with a crime, those who qualify for legal aid will have their defence Lawyer paid for by the taxpayer.

Agreeing to Terms of Service Online

Perhaps the biggest lie on the Internet is saying, “Yes, I have read and agree to the above statement.” But if you want to obtain any service, you will have no choice but to agree with a company’s terms. This month we will be looking at the implications in contract law of clicking the ‘I agree’ box. 

Are these terms legally binding?

Consider Your Brand Before You Apply for Jobs

Find a job as a legal secretary.The current economic climate means some law firms are tightening their belts, so, as always, it is vitally important to stand out from the crowd if you want to fulfil your career potential. Over the next few issues of ILSPA’s Legal Secretary Journal, I’ll be offering advice on how you can both stand out and stay true to the career path of your choice.

I’ve been a recruitment consultant with Douglas Scott for the past two years, placing legal business support staff all over the UK. Prior to this I worked at the Co-operative Bank in a human resources role, and I’ve also provided a business support role. So I am delighted to help Legal Secretaries further their careers.

Is It Right to Treat Arrested Under-18s as Adults?

Arrest under 18sThe Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) currently permits the police to treat a 17-year-old as an adult while in police custody. This position is at odds with the treatment of under-18s according to other legislation such as the Children’s Act 1989, the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Make Your Firm Proud and Advance Your Career!

Think about how happy your firm would be if you could take on more responsibility and be more productive in your role. If you were to further your knowledge of law, you could be more involved in legal procedures and save your employer precious time and money. Not only would it be beneficial for the company, but it would lead to greater job satisfaction for you.

New Rights for Whistleblowing Employees

Unless you have been living in a bubble over the past few months, you have not missed the numerous news stories that have come to light relating to public sector employees whistleblowing on the inadequacies of their workplaces. This has usually been connected with NHS Trusts – where worrying problems have been identified which may have otherwise gone unnoticed but for the brave individual who realised that something had to be done.  

Traffic Courts to Handle Less Serious Offences

Recent news stories have been reporting on new fast track traffic offence courts that are to be set up soon. The courts will be set up in England and Wales. The aim of these traffic courts will be to hear minor traffic-related offences. The plans follow a pilot phase where such fast track motoring courts were set up in nine different areas across the country. So, why are these courts being set up?

A Cautionary Tale about Establishing a Testator’s Capacity

This month we will consider a recent Court of Appeal decision which should remind those practicing in Wills and Probate of the importance of following best practices when preparing wills for clients. 

The case, Hawes v Burgess [2013] EWCA Civ 74, involved a 2007 will which cut out the testatrix’s son, Peter, and left the estate equally to her two daughters, Libby and Julia. 

Consider the following background facts to the case:

Does Prison Work as a Deterrent?

In October 2012, David Cameron made a statement about the prison system and that prisons should be made to work for the offenders. He also said that punishment and rehabilitation should in fact take equal precedence in preventing crime. The Prime Minister said that the debate on punishment had become too ‘black or white’, and that the prison system should be one that has a positive and rehabilitative impact on an inmate’s life, rather than merely a punitive one. 

How Will the Latest Legal Aid Cuts Have an Impact?

Legal aid is a way to offer legal advice and support to people who cannot afford to pay for it themselves. It has been one of the basic pillars of the welfare state since it came into being. But new changes that came into effect in early April in England and Wales have removed legal aid funding from various areas of civil law, including family disputes and social welfare benefits advice as well as housing and debt problems.

Is Law Fair?

On the whole it is, although some peculiar situations come up sometimes, and I am going to recount three of them to you!

R v Collins [1972] 2 All ER 1105 

One summer’s evening, a Friday in 1972, a 19-year-old, blond, good-looking chap had been out on his own to a local pub in Colchester, Essex. Little did he know, as he downed several pints of beer, that before the night was out he would become the lead player in a case that subsequently went from the Essex Assizes, where he was convicted of burglary with intent to commit rape contrary to s.9 (1)(a) of the Theft Act 1968, to the Court of Appeal Criminal Division where his conviction was quashed (R v Collins [1972] 2 All ER 1105). The Assize Courts, by the way, were disbanded at the end of 1972 by The Courts Act 1971 and replaced by the Crown Court.

A Lawyer’s Interesting and Embarrassing Experiences – Part 4

This is the final part of the series and I thought that I would end it with the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to me in my legal career.  Before I do this, however, I just want to mention two incidents that are highlighted in my memory.

For a period in my career, when I and my family had moved down from London to Devon, in the West Country, I ran my own conveyancing practice, which became very successful – so successful that I incorporated into it a high street estate agency so that I could provide the two services under one roof: negotiate the sale and/or purchase of clients’ properties and do the conveyancing for them, all for one composite fee.

Becoming a Legal Secretary

A career within the field of law is not all about Judges, Juries and dramatic cases fought in the courtroom.  In fact, a large proportion of legal work goes on behind the scenes in the office and is done by support staff such as Legal Secretaries.  Legal Secretaries ensure the smooth running of a legal department by providing essential administrative and managerial support.

Further Legal Aid Cuts to Be Introduced

The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger, recently expressed grave concerns about the imminent cuts in legal aid for civil cases.  These cuts are expected to save over £350 million after they come into effect this month.  But the statement by Lord Neuberger was closely followed by yet another announcement by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, detailing further cuts in legal aid spending, this time for criminal cases. 

Land Law – Leasehold Pitfalls

If you have studied ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course, you will already know that a leasehold estate is one of the two ways under the Law of Property Act 1925 that you can own land in the UK.  Leasehold is a form of ownership that allows you a temporary right to hold land or property.  The length of this temporary right is often measured in decades, usually 99 or 125 years. What you have not bought when you obtain a leasehold title is the land a property stands on.

Manipulating the Family Law System

The experience of seeing one’s parents split up, however amicably, can be difficult for a child to cope with.  But divorces are not always amicable.  The fact is that many split-ups are bitter and frequently involve protracted legal battles, including child custody cases.  In the bitter battle between warring parents, children often end up becoming the prisoners of war.

A Lawyer’s Interesting and Embarrassing Experiences – Part 3

A question a lawyer is often asked is, “How can you defend a client when you know he or she is guilty?” The answer to that, of course, is that you can only know if a client is guilty if he admits it, and if he does admit it, then, of course, you cannot run a ‘not guilty’ plea – you can plead in mitigation, bringing to the attention of the court any circumstances that you think will help the court in determining the sentence to pass, but you cannot put forward a defence to

Relaxation Exercise - Visualisation

The mind is like a muscle; in the same way as a muscle, the mind cannot be in tension and relaxed at the same time.

Visualisation has proved one of the most effective ways to relax. It is well worth taking time to practise this as a relaxation skill. It is an experience of focused attention on images and feelings which are positive and nourishing for you, allowing you to cultivate an ever-greater sense of freedom from the distractions of mood or circumstances. 

Same-Sex Marriage – a Fundamental Human Right

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2012-13 was introduced in the House of Commons in January 2013. The Bill is intended to make provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales as well as provisions about gender change by married persons and civil partners. If passed, it would allow same-sex couples to get married in both civil and religious ceremonies, where a religious institution has formally consented.

Which Skills Are Beneficial to Study Law?

study lawThere are no specific qualifications or experiences that can prepare a person to study law. For school-leavers, A-level studies in subjects that are similar to law such as economics or politics may be beneficial but are not essential. 

However, there are a number of skills which would be beneficial to individuals who are interested in studying law:

Strong Understanding and Use of Oral and Written Language

A Legal Secretary’s Tale

A Legal Secretary's TaleOne of my hobbies is going to folk clubs. I do comic songs, and once I made up some doggerel about things which can go awry in a legal office – for instance, an inexperienced casual receptionist telling a client point-blank that the legal eagle is too busy to talk to him or her, rather than ‘talking round the subject’, explaining the fee-earner is presently occupied and taking a message.

Employment Law - Is Statutory Sick Pay Sufficient to Live On?

In its autumn 2012 budget statement, the Government announced a 1% increase per annum in the rate of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for the next three years. SSP is meant to “provide a measure of earnings replacement for employees who are off work through illness.” From 6 April 2013, the SSP is due to rise by 85p, from £85.75 to £86.80 per week.

Land Law Update - Adverse Possession and Criminalising Squatters

When studying Land Law, few students expect to come across what ordinary people might regard as legalised theft. The part of the law I am referring to is known as adverse possession, which can allow a squatter to obtain rights over land – commonly referred to as ‘squatter’s rights’. This concept may seem controversial, but it is based on the notion that unused land does not benefit society as a whole.

Relaxation Exercise - Walking

With spring just around the corner, now that you might have a little more of a ‘spring’ in your step, this exercise builds on some of the previous relaxation exercises in a rather more active way. Believe it or not, walking promotes our relaxation response; any physical exercise produces natural, feel-good chemicals in your brain. It need not be a long walk – even 10 minutes once or twice a day makes a positive difference.

Family Law – Children’s Interests to Be Given First Priority

Family LawDuring the Queen’s Speech of May 2012, an announcement was made regarding a new bill of law that is aimed at improving the lives of children and families. The bill seeks to implement plans that will permit parents to share parental leave, enabling the father to also take time off during a maternity leave, for example. The bill also proposes to make the process of adoption easier for international families.

How Best to Memorise During Your Studies

memorise-studiesThe school years may be a distant memory for some, but study and work habits that ground us in later life (while often taken for granted) are often set in place during this formative phase in our lives. This is not to say that one cannot change one’s study habits, but if good practices are put in place during the school years, studying as an adult will be that much easier.

National PA Day Survey

At the Office Show towards the end of 2012, National PA Day celebrated Britain’s estimated 600,000 highly skilled Personal Assistants, showcasing the increasing importance of PAs working in offices throughout the nation. The aim of National PA Day was to promote this exciting and stimulating profession amongst well-educated, career-minded young people.

Relaxation Exercise: The Whiteboard

relaxation-excerciseThis is the second article in my series of relaxation exercises. The whiteboard exercise, which I will describe here, is useful to reset the mind to shift away from any particularly negative things and instead focus on things which are positive and supportive for you. No actual whiteboard is necessary! You just need to plan some time when you are unlikely to be disturbed and can be quiet for a while.

 

Time to Put an End to Gazumping!

gazumping‘Gazumping’ may sound like something big, fluffy bunny rabbits in a fairy-tale land do – perhaps a term used in the place of ‘jumping for joy’. But in reality it is a deeply unscrupulous and alarmingly common malpractice in real estate. Gazumping is shockingly common in England and Wales, and the fact that it happens is not nearly as shocking as the fact that it is legally allowed to happen.