2014

15 Top Tips for Taking and Transcribing Minutes

As a Legal Secretary, you are sometimes called on to take the minutes in a meeting and afterwards transcribe them. The taking and transcribing of minutes is a very valuable skill once perfected. However, it can be daunting if you are inexperienced or lack confidence.

If this is you, then panic not – DeskDemon.com has compiled 15 top tips on the subject. 

1.    Take Diaries to Meetings

Chief Executive Emma Stacey’s 10-Year Anniversary at ILSPA

Emma Stacey has been working at ILSPA for 10 years and celebrated this wonderful milestone at an organic restaurant near the head office at Dartington Hall at the end of November. She started in November 2004 and has had a big hand in the growth of the Institute over the years, helping it become what it is today. Emma answered some questions so you could find out more.

What was it like taking on the role of Chief Executive at ILSPA?

Delayed Flight Claims Set to Soar

Thousands of claims for compensation have been given the green light following a decision by the Supreme Court on 31 October. The case raises issues in both contract and civil litigation. For those airline customers who are familiar with their contractual and civil rights, they may be in line for an early Christmas present.

History of the dispute

Great Reasons to Become a Legal Secretary

If you are looking for an interesting, varied and fulfilling job, then becoming a Legal Secretary is the career path for you. It’s not just law firms and Barrister’s chambers but also local authorities which need to rely on the skills and services of a good Legal Secretary, and most financial firms and large companies have Secretaries working in their legal department. This gives you great scope to choose the sort of working environment which would best suit you.

Legal Study Sources

Last month, we highlighted the useful online portal to key legal websites for Students created by the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs. These were sites that have been identified as some of the most useful in helping you to keep your legal knowledge up to date both when studying and when in practice. 

National Awards Announces First Male PA of the Year

M&C Saatchi’s Stuart Martin was announced as the winner of the 2014 PA of the Year Awards, hosted by SecsintheCity, the UK’s #1 job site for PAs and Executive Assistants.

The announcement was made at a prestigious Awards ceremony, held at the The Ivy Restaurant on Thursday 6 November 2014.

The winners of the PA of the Year Awards 2014 are:

The British Legal Awards 2014

The British Legal Awards took place on 27 November 2014 and it was the highlight of the legal calendar. The awards are an annual showcase for the greatest achievements made each year by law firms operating in the United Kingdom. This provides a chance to reward lawyers for their hard work and contribution to the British economy as well as recognition of the innovative and varied work they carry out on a day-to-day basis. 

ILSPA's Single Subject Advanced Courses

If you’re looking for a way to advance your skills and progress your career, you might consider taking one of our Single Subject Legal Advanced courses. These courses are designed for Students and Members who want to learn more about specific legal areas, enabling them to specialise in certain fields, gain new jobs, or earn promotions with a current employer.

The AH Paralegal Practical Skills Course

Last month, an article appeared in our journal about how you can gain valuable paralegal skills to advance your career. AH Paralegal Training provide an excellent course which can help you do just that, and it is taught by our wonderful tutor Amanda Hamilton. The AH Paralegal Practical Skills Course can be taken as a four-day intensive training programme or as a distance-learning course.  

The New Online Conveyancing System

Residential conveyancing in England and Wales is about to undergo a change thanks to a new online system called Veyo. The new online conveyancing system will allow for easy access to information and documents for purchasers, mortgage lenders, estate agents, and government agencies such as HM Land Registry and HM Revenue and Customs.

ILSPA's New Legal Resources Portal

Being able to research in order to update your knowledge is a fundamental skill when studying law. In the Legal Secretaries Diploma course you learn about legal principles and how they relate to one another. To help you extend your knowledge and keep up to date with legal developments, the Institute have created a portal on their website giving you easy access to some key websites.

5 Reasons to Use a Niche Job Board for Law

Finding and securing a job can be a protracted, often frustrating activity, but there are ways to streamline your search for the perfect law role, cutting out time and stress as you go. A massive trend in recent years has been the growth of highly targeted, specialist job boards, covering just about every career sector under the sun – from law to automotive to aviation to sales to travel sector jobs, to name just a few.

Changes to the Rules of Intestacy

An article was last published in this Journal about the law of intestacy in 2009. There had been a Law Commission paper published on the 29th October 2009 with a number of proposals that might be formed into a new bill. Well, nearly five years later that proposed bill has been made into an Act of Parliament as the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, receiving royal assent on the 14th May. The commencement date for the Act is the 1st October. So what has changed?

Gain Valuable Paralegal Skills to Advance Your Career

Paralegals play an important part in the legal profession, helping Lawyers with cases, research and paperwork. While the Lawyer that a Paralegal works for is ultimately responsible for the work that is done, most Lawyers rely heavily on the services that Paralegals provide. Because paralegal work is so demanding, additional training can be useful in helping Paralegals develop new skills and advance their careers.

Salaries for Legal Secretaries in London

Legal Secretaries have an important role in a legal office, providing administrative support to the Lawyers of the firm, and they are a vital part of the cooperative efforts of legal teams. Legal Secretaries need to have not only significant administrative and organisational skills, but also need familiarity with legal procedures and the law in general. Of course, the more specialised training a Legal Secretary has, the more valuable he or she is to the firm.

The 7 CV Errors You Cannot Afford to Make

You’ve found a job sent from the employment gods. You’re perfect, the company is perfect and the interview will be only a formality.

Before you apply and change your life forever, there is one vital thing to remember.

The CV.

Have you fallen foul of the classic CV mistakes that hundreds of thousands of job seekers make when applying for jobs? Well, with our guidance, you’re guaranteed to avoid the dreaded “no pile” and get that interview.

What Is the Magic Circle?

Whereas “the Magic Circle” may not be the official name of the group of UK law firms that the term denotes, there is definitely some magic surrounding the firms. The Magic Circle are a group of five firms that are considered to be the leading law firms in the UK. All five are headquartered within the UK itself with offices around the world.

Changes Are Coming to English Family Law

Family law is in need of an update, according to the interim report of a working group set up by Sir James Munby, head of the Family Division. This isn’t necessarily surprising and may well be overdue, as the Family Court is falling behind the Crown Court in regard to how it treats vulnerable witnesses. Given that many of the witnesses who speak in the Family Court are children and others who might be considered ‘vulnerable’, there is an obvious need for this to be addressed.

Five Great Add-ons for Google Docs

In a previous article I mentioned that Google Docs has a marketplace for third-party add-ons. These five add-ons will improve your workflow dramatically. To install any of these add-ons, you simply click “Add-ons” from within your Docs editor. Find the add-on and click the blue box with a plus sign in it.

 

1.    EasyBib Citation and Bibliography Generator

My Career as a Legal Secretary

If you’d have told me 20 years ago that I would now be working as a Legal Secretary, I would have laughed.

I always wanted to be a Medical Secretary, as I had always been interested in that sort of environment. So after college, my dream came true and I started to work at my local hospital as a relief Medical Secretary. I loved my job and looked forward to every working day.

Office* Show 2014 CPD Opportunities

Office* is taking place on 7-8 October and is now CPD-accredited – giving even more value to our cost-effective training seminars for you and your company.

You will be able to claim a CPD Certificate of Attendance for any paid-for training seminars that you go to across the two days – these can be used in your formal CPD record for a professional body, institution or employer, and each hour of contact learning time will equate to one point.

Support for Legal Secretaries and PAs Is at the Heart of ILSPA

The new website just launched by The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs is packed full of valuable information for both trainee and experienced Legal Secretaries and PAs.  One of the features on ILSPA’s website is an exclusive online Membership area, which includes a wealth of resources to help people in their studies and careers.  A bonus for Students is that ILSPA’s widely recognised Legal S

What Are Statements of Case?

Any legal case can involve a lot of paperwork, especially in large cases or cases in which one party is attempting to make a large number of claims against the other. Both parties may present evidence or make statements to help tell their side of the story, and this evidence may be presented in the form of a statement of case.

Why Interpersonal and Communication Skills Are Vital for Legal Secretaries

Legal Secretaries have to deal with a wide range of correspondence throughout the day. They not only interact with peers and colleagues on a daily basis, but also must effectively communicate with lawyers and other legal professionals regularly. This includes not only face-to-face communication, but also phone calls, email, written correspondence, and in some cases teleconferencing or other live video.

Civil Litigation Update – Extension of Civil Protocols

This month we are continuing our review of recent changes to Civil Litigation Procedure. Our focus in this article will be on a new procedure that must be followed before any Court action can be taken in road traffic claims (RTAs), claims against employers or public liability claims. This procedure is referred to as the RTA pre-action protocols.

ILSPA’s New Legal Secretaries Diploma Course

With the fantastic launch of ILSPA’s new website comes our new Legal Secretaries Diploma course.

We have added an additional unit to the course on Family Law and Practice, which means that Students will have even better job prospects once they have qualified. The course now covers the four most common practice areas which are worked on in law firms and legal departments.

The Launch of ILSPA's New Website

ILSPA is delighted to launch our new website. After months of planning, preparations, and the wonderful work of our design and IT team, our vision has become a reality.

Our new site has been designed with our visitors, Members and Students in mind. We have aimed to make the site easier to navigate and have presented information in a way which is clearer, more accessible and visually appealing.

The Westminster Child Abuse Inquiry

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has stated that the government needs to get to the bottom of allegations against politicians over child abuse claims in the 1980s. Speaking from India, where he is touring with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, Osborne said: “We need to get to the truth…We need to get to the bottom of what happened in many of our institutions, including potentially at Westminster.”

Have you Considered Working as a Paralegal?

For some Legal Secretaries and PAs, acquiring Paralegal skills is a natural progression in their careers. Many ILSPA Members gain experience naturally through work at their firms or have taken  specific courses of study to further their skills. Legal Secretaries have a great opportunity to advance their careers in this respect and can be fee earners in their own right.

Optimum Customer Service Skills

Working as a Legal Secretary will often mean dealing with clients and customers. As is the case with any service industry, it is imperative to show these clients the highest level of customer service skills at all times, especially considering how handsomely they may be paying for their legal advice and support. Here is some advice to ensure that your customer service skills are always at their best.

Respect

The Children and Families Act 2014

The Children and Families Act 2014 introduces fundamental changes to the way in which children in care will be dealt with. This Act seems to cover everything, from banning smoking in cars to how the most vulnerable children with special needs should be treated. This legislation represents one of the biggest shake-ups in childcare seen in decades.

Employment Law Update June 2014

Employment law changes are coming into effect. Now that it is June, ACAS early conciliation is in place and more is to come with regards to employment laws. The laws are changing as a way to help employees and employers; however, there has been some concern about the cost to employers. Find out what the updates are so that you can remain ahead of the game.

ACAS Conciliation

How Best to Take a Telephone Message

Telephone etiquette is a very important area of Legal Secretary work. There are ways in which to answer the telephone professionally and to take a message when needed. Taking the message incorrectly, especially when working as a Legal Secretary, as a PA or in other legal capacities at an office, can lead to problematic situations for the caller’s case or even for their overall faith in the firm’s competence.

One Rule to Always Remember

Office* Show 2014

Office* – the UK’s largest event for PAs, EAs, VAs and Office Managers – returns to London’s Olympia on 7-8 October 2014. Visitors can expect it to be a big year for office*, with over 175 leading suppliers, 32 training seminars, inspirational free keynotes and unrivalled networking opportunities. If you can only visit one event this year, make sure it’s office*.

10 Ways to Stay Motivated When Job Hunting in Law

Receiving rejection letters, emails and phone calls can be a tough part of the job-hunting process. Worse still are those days of hearing nothing at all, even when you’ve slogged over countless application forms. But try your best to fight despondency. Now is the time for inner strength and renewed energy. To keep on track until your ideal NQ solicitor, paralegal or legal secretary job is in the bag, it’s vital to stay focused and positive.

Career and Commitment

How committed are you to having a career you absolutely love?

Your level of commitment plays a key role in the process of creating a fulfilling career.  When people are undercommitted to their careers, they tend to get lousy results.  When they get clear about what they want and commit themselves to creating it, however long it takes, they usually get there in some fashion.

Action reveals commitment

Employment Law: Exactly Why Do Zero-Hour Contracts Still Exist?

Does it seem to you as though the government is all over creating new laws for the insignificant aspects of life, yet they definitely procrastinate in legislating against the things that really matter? With so many people having voiced concerns over what are known as zero-hour employment contracts for such a long time now, how else can we justify such a deplorable lack of action in this regard?

The Magna Carta

This month as we approach the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, we have the second in a series of articles on civil liberty and our justice system. We will start with an explanation of what the Magna Carta is and then consider a current example of the charter principles in effect, namely the changes to bailiff powers brought into force in April. 

The Magna Carta

Useful Excel Tips

For many working in legal departments, using Microsoft Excel is a daily necessity, from producing invoices to taking stock of how much stationery is in the storeroom. As with most essential office software, there are many things you can do to make daily use more easy and pleasurable. Here are five useful tips:

Entering Text over Several Lines

Add the Best and Drop the Worst

When you realise that you have many bad or mediocre habits that are holding you back in life, you may start to feel overwhelmed. Where should you begin?

Here’s a simple heuristic that will help you identify which habits to change first:

 

Add the Best and Drop the Worst

Let’s start with the first part.

Shortcut Keys for Faster Outlook Use

Keyboard 3.jpgMost of our readers will spend a lot of time working with Microsoft Outlook as it is probably the most widely used mail and calendar client in organisations today. Here are some helpful keyboard shortcuts to lessen the time you spend in your Outlook in-box.

 

1. Open the address book with the ‘to’ field selected: ALT + .

2. Open the address book with the ‘bcc’ field selected: ALT + B

Legal Jobs: The Must-Have Skill Set

Legal jobs take multiple forms, but the skills needed to excel are the same for any position in law.

Whether you are an aspiring or qualified Lawyer, Paralegal, Secretary, Conveyancer or any other role in the profession, Anna Pitts of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau brings you the 10 essential traits you need for a career in law. For anyone looking to begin their career in law, especially if you are about to graduate, this is essential reading!

Adding Citations to Word Documents

As a Legal Secretary, you will sometimes find yourself needing to compile well-researched documents. The hallmark of any respectable reference document is its citations. Without citations to the sources of your information, your research is quickly rendered useless, as it is not verifiable in any way. 

Fortunately MS Office makes it easy to add citations to documents quickly and easily.

You can add your citations by following these steps:

Are Whole-life Prison Tariffs against Human Rights?

Despite a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) stating that whole-life prison tariffs are a breach of a prisoner’s human rights, the Court of Appeal has elected to go against this judgment and decide that such terms could still be handed down to the criminals responsible for the most heinous crimes in our society. In this article we will take a look at what the ECHR suggested we do in order to remain lawful with our sentencing.

How to Build a Strong Work Ethic

There is no fatigue so wearisome as that which comes from lack of work. – Charles Spurgeon

If you’ve been stuck in a lazy rut lately, here are some suggestions to get yourself working productively.

Accept That Many Results Require Hard Work

Remind yourself of the simple causality chain from decision to action to results. That middle phase is where most of the work is.

The Effect of the New Squatting Laws

If you are a regular follower of this Journal, you might recall that we covered the change to squatting laws that were due to come into force a couple of years ago. At that time, we discussed the fact that it was to become a criminal offence for a person to trespass and live without permission in a residential property and we speculated as to how the new squatting law would be policed once the Law came into effect on 1 September 2012.

Important Changes in Employment Law for 2014

The year 2014 is very important for employment law. The current laws were introduced in the mid-1990s, so with it being nearly 20 years later, it stands to reason the UK government would be looking to change employment laws to meet current requirements and changes that have occurred to employment as a whole. Several proposed changes have been put into the works, with most of the employment changes occurring in April 2014.

Law Job Prospects for 2014

In review, 2013 proved a mixed year for UK law jobs. Against a backdrop of the planned changes to Legal Aid provision and personal injury law and regular news of law firms falling into administration – particularly at the mid-tier level – there was generally felt to be more optimism about law job prospects and salaries than has been felt in the previous three or four years. 

Calming Interview Nerves

If you can minimise nervousness in the run-up to your interview, you’ll be in a good position to perform well on the day. It’s worth remembering, though, that a few nerves and being under a little stress can be good for you, according to the latest medical research. Being under slight stress is likely to fire you up, make you more alert, able to tune out distractions and think creatively – all great aids to an impressive job interview!

Wills and Probate Round-Up

This month we are looking at some of the latest developments in the world of wills and probate. 

The Law Society Wills and Inheritance Protocol

A new protocol published in July 2013 was linked to the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme. The protocol is not currently compulsory for Solicitors unless they are members of the Quality Scheme. 

Action Required Over Legal Highs

The United Kingdom is woefully behind in changing their drug laws, given the increase in drug- related deaths. In 2013 there were 52 reported deaths from legal drugs. A legal drug is classified as one that has not been banned and is sold online or in shops. These drugs are sold under the guise that they are not harmful, but new evidence shows they can be just as harmful as drugs already on the banned list.

Advancing Your Legal Knowledge

Increasing your knowledge of law will help you be better prepared to enter the workforce or succeed in your current role. Legal events and updates happen daily and Members who go that extra mile will be much more confident and helpful to their employers and potential clients.

Civil Litigation Update

This month we are considering how the rapidly changing area of civil litigation has fared over the past year. There have been several articles in the Journal about the recommendations made by Lord Justice Jackson in his wide-ranging review in 2010. This review and the recommendations he made came into force in April this year as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

Parental Child Abduction Cases Show a Huge Increase

Child abduction by a parent has reportedly doubled since 2003-2004, stated the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In 2003-2004, 272 new cases of child abduction by a parent were reported. In 2012-2013, 580 cases were reported. In an attempt to solve this increasingly troubling situation, ‘Caught in the Middle’, a film, was recently published on YouTube. The film looks at the children who suffer the most from parental disagreements that lead to abduction.

The Most Important Interview Question – “What Can You Bring to This Role?”

If you are preparing for a legal secretary job interview, make sure you don’t stumble on a question that many people simply forget to plan for, and live to regret. “Tell us what you can bring to this role?” is an incredibly obvious question, and you’re guaranteed to hear it at just about any job interview.

Yet somehow many of us struggle to have a knockout answer lined up, and therefore risk not sounding committed to the job in question and failing to sell ourselves effectively.