2015

A Look at the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Can you believe that although we are well into the twenty-first century now, we find ourselves still considering an abhorrence of mankind that should have been eliminated back in the nineteenth century? Alas, it would appear that our species is always ready to prove its monstrous side in some way or other, and this is entirely why Theresa May (Home Secretary) and several other members of the House of Commons believed that modern slavery legislation was called for.

Be Your Own Secret Santa

It’s not what you want to hear at this point in the festive season: somebody asking you to give another Christmas present. You may already feel that you’ve got quite enough on your hands with the presents for your family and your friends, and on top of that being the secret Santa to Darren, the man of mystery in the IT department. But this is a Christmas present with a difference: it will cost you nothing in money and very little in time, and it is a present that you give to yourself.

Do You Truly Give 100% at Work?

If you took any employee to one side and asked them whether or not they believe they truly give 100% to their work, I wonder if they would answer affirmatively. Let’s try to delve into the inner depths of our beings here and evaluate just how committed you really are to your work.

Job Satisfaction

Keeping the Work/Life Balance at Christmas

Guess what? Christmas falls on December 25th this year.

This isn’t my line, but Martin Lewis’s – he of “Money Saving Expert” fame. His point in a nutshell is that although we all know on the 1st of January each year exactly when Christmas will fall, we tend to make little or no financial preparation for it, with the result that many of us binge spend and then have to pay for Christmas at least until the following Easter.

The Legal Support Awards 2016

Our Annual Awards Scheme Is Back – Bigger and Better!

Shining a light on the legal world’s most inspirational support staff, the Legal Support Awards ceremony is attended and fully supported by legal industry leaders. Our awards are unique, because they are dedicated purely to legal support staff.

Justice May Now Be Out of Reach for Some

In April 2015, new charges came into effect which have dramatically increased the cost of court proceedings in England and Wales. Since these charges were put in place, there has been much protest from civil liberty groups and legal professionals. Over 50 magistrates across England and Wales have stepped down as a direct result of the charges. They believe that the increase in the price of justice violates the core principles of the Magna Carta (which incidentally celebrated its 800th birthday in 2015).

Family Law – Recent Court Rulings

It has been a busy few months in the family courts, with a number of high-profile cases hitting the news. Previous articles are available in the monthly Journal archive from both September and October of this year, and we would encourage you to also read these to help you get to grips with this rapidly developing area of law.

1) Divorce and dishonesty

Being an Achiever

You become an achiever by achieving your goals. If you achieve your goals, you’re an achiever. If you don’t achieve your goals, you’re not an achiever.

This is a simple, binary way to think about achievement. To achieve means to reach, attain or accomplish. What you choose to reach, attain or accomplish is up to you.

CPD: What's It All About?

It won’t have escaped your attention that your boss’s continuing professional development (CPD) obligations have changed quite dramatically over the past couple of years. From a mandatory 16 hours per year, the minimum annual learning requirement for solicitors has been reduced to zero, and CPD has been replaced by “continuing competence”. When the rules for your boss have been relaxed, you may question the importance of CPD for yourself.

E-Signatures: Not Making Their Mark Just Yet

Have you ever authorised a payment from your bank account with a PIN, checked off an “I agree” box on a website or acknowledged delivery of a package by signing with a stylus on the delivery man’s electronic pad? The chances are that most of us have done all of those things within the past few weeks. Every time we did so, we were “e-signing” a contract or other document. In fact, as I’ll make clear shortly, we were not only e-signing but also “digitally signing” — and yes, there is a difference between the two.

Exclusion Clauses in Contracts

An exclusion clause is a type of clause that appears in a contract when one party tries to limit or exclude itself from liability. If the law did not prevent it, then large companies would use and abuse these clauses to protect themselves. Consumers have already “agreed” to hundreds of terms and conditions when they buy goods and services, so the laws protecting them from unfair exclusion clauses are important.

Should Bankruptcy Be Checked in Conveyancing?

Disputes in property and conveyancing do not often find their way into the Law Reports, but there are two areas of conveyancing practice — one recent (2015 in the High Court, Chancery Division) and the other not so recent (November 2013, which went to the Court of Appeal) — which apply to common aspects of pre-contract searches and enquiries and which are therefore worth looking at. I’ll deal with the former in this article and the latter next month.

Best Twitter Accounts to Follow for a Budding Career in Law

With hundreds of Twitter accounts dishing out the latest law updates, it can be difficult to separate the useful from the useless. Twitter has masses of info, advice and tips to offer you - simply searching ‘#law’ will generate thousands, maybe even millions, of results. Click on the right accounts though, and you could be on to a winner - reading all the latest law ‘need-to-knows’ and storming up the legal-professional ladder.

Family Law - Divorce Rulings

Divorce proceedings are often messy and complicated as couples and their lawyers seek a ‘fair’ division of assets and wealth accumulated during the course of a marriage. The more straightforward cases end in a 50/50 split of assets and wealth, but different circumstances call for different rulings. A decision made recently by the Court of Appeal has made headlines because it ordered a consultant to surrender all of his accumulated wealth to his ex-wife.

The Criminal Court Structure of England and Wales

The Criminal Court System of the United Kingdom is widely regarded as being one of the most complicated in the world. The main reason for this is that it was not designed all in one go, but rather it expanded, adapted and developed over the course of more than 1,000 years. To further complicate matters, the four individual nations which make up the United Kingdom have 3 different legal systems between them, meaning that there are 3 different criminal justice systems operating within the borders of one country.

Careless Talk Costs Clients

Frances discovered that her marriage had ended at a neighbour’s party. She was chatting with a lively group of people, amongst whom was George. George, as Frances knew, worked on the support staff of a legal firm specialising in high net worth divorces. George did not know Frances and they hadn’t been introduced. Another person in the group directed George’s attention across the room to Hugh, who as it happened was Frances’ husband.

Money Laundering: Time to Update Your Training

Whether you work for a big firm or a small one, you’ve probably noticed a renewal of interest in money laundering issues on the part of your principals in recent months. The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) has made money laundering one of its key priorities this year, and has already carried out a number of inspections of money laundering procedures in bigger firms, not always it appears with results considered satisfactory.

A Better Fit: The New Court of Protection Rules

The Court of Protection is the specialist court dealing with the property, money, physical welfare and sometimes even the liberty of those without the mental capacity to make their own decisions. These “protected persons”, usually known in the Court Rules as “P", range from very young children to the very elderly, and the Court’s decisions take in many forms of mental incapacity, from brain damage and severe autism to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Civil Litigation Practice in Focus Part 2: Advising in an Unbundled World

Last month we introduced the world of unbundled legal services. Cutting through the jargon, unbundling is shorthand for how some firms are now providing legal advice for litigation clients with limited financial means.  In this article we will highlight some key points that should be considered when advice is provided in this way and consider how you as a litigation secretary can add value to the process.

Desktop Dilemmas – Clutter or Clear?

One of my first secretarial jobs was working in a medium-sized firm with, among others, a lady whom I’ll call Sylvia. Sylvia’s desk was generally an awe-inspiring sight: it groaned with teetering piles of files, Post-It notes were stuck around the computer screen as well as on the desktop, and there were usually a couple of shorthand notebooks open at pages with to-do lists, scribbled in shorthand that only Sylvia could read back. It looked like chaos to everyone else.

ILSPA Talks to Secs in the City Legal PA of the Year 2014 - Rachel Newman

As announced in the July edition of DEDICATED – The Legal Secretary Journal, the nominations for the Secs in the City PA of the Year Awards 2015 are now open. One of the objectives of ILSPA is to ensure that Legal Secretaries and PAs receive the recognition that their skills and knowledge deserve.

Unlimited Fines in Magistrates’ Courts

Criminal Law and Practice is not a subject that is included in the Legal Secretaries Diploma course, and the reason for this is that when the course was first devised, it was geared to the most common areas of law that are practiced in the average firm of solicitors, as this would give the student the best chance for finding a job.  However, Criminal Law and Practice is provided by the Institute as a Higher Diploma Course and it is a very interesting area to work in.

Civil Litigation Practice in Focus Part 1 - Introduction to an Unbundled World

Like most areas of legal practice, civil litigation has been affected over the past few years by the cuts in public spending. Following the withdrawal in April 2013 of legal aid for most civil claims, there are many people who are unlikely to be able to afford to pay privately for a solicitor to advise them. To help these clients, the Law Society published guidance on 19 March 2015 for solicitors called ‘unbundling civil legal services’.

ILSPA Lifetime Membership

ILSPA has introduced a fantastic new Membership scheme. As from 1 July 2015, ILSPA Members will be able to renew their Membership for a one-off fee of £50. This will entitle them to Lifetime Membership of the Institute.

Rather than Members renewing each year and paying a fee of £35, they will only need to renew their Membership once, and they will receive Membership benefits for as long as they need them. 

ILSPA’s New Legal Secretary Jobs Board

We are delighted to announce that our new Legal Secretary Jobs Board is live. The new Jobs Board has been created so that it integrates with our main website and is more user friendly.

ILSPA’s Legal Secretary Jobs Board specialises in Legal Secretary jobs throughout the UK. We advertise vacancies from law firms and recruitment agencies, and aggregate Legal Secretary jobs from Indeed.co.uk.

Secs in the City’s 2015 PA of the Year Awards

SecsintheCity, the UK’s #1 job site for PAs, EAs and Secretaries, has announced that nominations are now open for the PA of the Year Awards 2015.

Sponsored by recruitment specialists Tay Associates, the awards recognise the professionalism of PAs and acknowledge their contribution to the organisations they work for, with previous finalists representing leading brands such as Facebook, M&C Saatchi, Ann Summers, Royal Mail and Mercedes.

Essential Skills for Legal Secretaries Diploma Students

There are several skills you need to have when studying ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course. Firstly, you do not need to have any previous experience in law to enrol. ILSPA’s Diploma will give you an understanding of the most important and most commonly practiced areas of law. Once qualified, you will be able to secure employment as a Legal Secretary and advance your knowledge on the job.

New Government Introduces Strike Law Changes

Since the new Conservative government was elected, there have been announcements that significant changes will be made to the strike laws which are currently in place. When these changes come into effect, any strike which will affect the public services will need to have the support of 40% of the eligible voting union members. As it stands, a strike can be carried out if it has the support of the majority of those who vote.

Online Security Legislation

The Data Protection Act (1998) includes legislation to protect the personal information of Internet users to ensure that they are not exploited illegally online. This is the only real legislation which exists in the UK to protect individuals from what goes on online, and it is only scratching at the surface when it comes to Internet safety.

Tips to Stay on Track and Reach Your Goals

Working as a Legal Secretary will require you to be extremely focused and organised in order to adhere to tight deadlines and to keep up with the fast-paced legal industry. Dividing your work or objectives into specific goals is an important part of managing your workload and achieving your overall ambitions. This is not just true for people in employment – for those of you currently studying for qualifications, the setting of goals is just as important.

What’s the Right Level of Stimulation for You?

Finding the right level of stimulation for your work and relationships is one of life’s key challenges. Sometimes we procrastinate on tasks and check out from relationships because the overall stimulation level isn’t a good match for our preferences. Some situations are understimulating, causing us to feel bored and listless. Other situations are overstimulating, causing us to feel stressed or anxious. In the middle is the preferred zone where we feel attentively engaged, but this zone is different for each individual.

Emplaw Online - Employment Law Database

Online resources for legal research can often be hard to navigate. If you are searching for a specific case summary or information on one particular act, you may find yourself looking for a very small needle in a very big haystack. The recently relaunched Emplaw website, however, seeks to change that by offering a clean, easy-to-use interface and focusing on one area of law rather than all of them.

Five Large UK Law Firms

Those of you who are starting out in your legal secretary careers may be considering looking for employment in one of the larger law firms. We have provided some information about five large law firms which have offices in the UK and overseas.

Pinsent Masons

Public Rights of Way Changes

As part of your studies on ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course, you have considered the topic of land law. This month, we are reviewing proposals to change rights over land. These changes affect public rights of way and were part of the government’s Deregulation Bill 2013 – 2014.

The CPS and the Police

The partnership between the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the police is vital to the prosecution process in the United Kingdom. In order for a prosecution to proceed against a person, company or institution, the police must first gather all the information and evidence necessary to support a criminal investigation, and the CPS will then use this information to decide whether or not the prosecution should go ahead.

The Legal Secretary is One of Your Greatest Assets - Legalex 2015

Legalex 2015 is the first national event and conference for the legal profession which is entirely focused on the business behind law. The event offers a wonderful opportunity to attend educational seminars, network with your peers and meet suppliers to the industry. You can register for free tickets by visiting www.legalex.co.uk.

Changes to Civil and Family Court Fees

On the evening of 4 March 2015, the House of Lords discussed and approved the amendment to the Civil Proceedings and Family Proceedings Fees Order.

This has brought about several changes to the court fees incurred by different claims. As of 9 March 2015, these are the fees which claimants will be obliged to pay in order to receive the money won in court:

ILSPA Supports Legalex 2015

The UK Legal Services market is undergoing dramatic transformations instigated by various influences, including market liberalisation, technological developments, new business structures and an increasingly knowledgeable and professionally demanding calibre of client. 

NALP and IoP Continue to Set Standards and Promote Paralegals

In an ever-changing legal landscape, the traditional attitude to legal services has been turned on its head. The main reason behind this is the requirement to comply with the regulatory objectives of the Legal Services Act 2007. The prime objective of this statute is to open up the legal services sector, making legal services more accessible and less costly to the consumer.

New Consumer Rights Act

Most consumer law was written about thirty years ago and does not clearly cover all types of modern contracts such as those dealing with digital content like music, software or games. New measures to enhance consumer rights and make them easier to understand were unveiled by consumer minister Jo Swinson in early 2014.

Occupiers’ Liability in Adverse Weather

Spring is officially upon us, and we can therefore reflect on how the winter has affected legal services to clients. Winter is the most common time for personal injury accidents to happen due to ice and snow. The first question on some people’s mind would be ‘Whom can I sue?’ Whilst a civil litigation personal injury claim may be considered, one must not forget that there are also other aspects of private law which could be considered, including Occupiers’ Liability.

Women in Law

Thousands of women throughout the world celebrated International Women’s Day on 8 March. Events were held by organisations, charities, educational institutions and groups to celebrate achievements and inspire women of all ages and nationalities. The first International Women’s Day was held way back in 1911 and was celebrated by over a million people in countries across Europe.

ILSPA’s Senior Administrator – Megan James

We are delighted to announce that Megan James has secured a permanent contract with the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs as our Senior Administrator. Megan started working for us in August 2014 in an administrative role. We have been very impressed by her performance and professionalism over the past six months. She has dealt with her duties and responsibilities with great efficiency and has an excellent work ethic.

Team Working – Are You an Efficient Emma or a Struggling Susan?

When it comes to effective team working, are you an Efficient Emma, an Improving Imogen, a Not Bad Nora – or a Struggling Susan? These fun stereotypes have been created by specialist matter and case management software company Iken as part of its campaign to highlight and share best practice for team working, especially amongst in-house legal departments.

The Importance of Confidentiality

As a Legal Secretary, you will be aware that confidentiality is essential in the legal field. Issues concerning confidentiality arise when information is disclosed by one person to another in a situation where it could be reasonably expected that that information would not be disclosed to anyone else. Confidentiality is protected as a fundamental human right and is expected to be observed in a very extensive range of circumstances.

The Magna Carta’s 800th Birthday

This year marks a monumental milestone in the political development of the United Kingdom. A document which was first drawn up to appease an unruly bunch of rebel barons and a very unpopular monarch marks its 800th birthday. Eight centuries after the Archbishop of Canterbury drafted the Magna Carta, we still use it as the basis for the unwritten constitution of the United Kingdom.

3 Law Blogs You Need to Be Reading

When working in a fast-paced industry like law, it’s vital to keep up with all the latest news, views and developments. Thankfully, there are some clever legal eagles out there who run some pretty impressive blogs filled with all the latest information. We’ve chosen a few of our favourites that you simply must be reading.

Roll on Friday

The Importance of Good Reading and Writing Skills

Reading and writing skills may seem a topic more suited to school children, but foundation skills like these are so important that you should always consider if there is room for improvement.

Let’s start with writing skills. Whether you are preparing a document for your portfolio or making a job application, a quick review of your basic English skills can avoid simple mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Improve Your Memory

It is not uncommon for law students to complain that they struggle to remember all the case names and Acts of Parliament that make up the legal rules in the UK. There are lots of different kinds of memory techniques that you can try, and we have set out below a few for you to consider using.

Don’t worry if you find that a technique does not work for you, as this is a personal skill and you need to find out what suits your own individual learning style.

Make memory cards

Legal Secretaries Invited to Join New Social Media Platform

Legal Secretaries are being invited to join a new social networking site for the legal services sector.

Mootis – mootis.co.uk – has been launched by award-winning silk Bill Braithwaite QC. 

Commenting on the launch of Mootis, Chairman Bill Braithwaite QC said:

“Sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook are hugely successful, but we feel the world of legal services is large enough to warrant its own bespoke platform.”

Recent Legal Changes in Stamp Duty

As of 4 December 2014, new stamp duty rates will be in place for anyone buying a house anywhere in the UK. These new rates have been introduced to reduce stamp duty for most people buying a home and to make the charges fairer for everyone. You will be affected by the new rates if you buy a residential property in the UK which costs you over £125,000.

The Strong Future Growth of Conveyancing

Research performed by Search Flow predicts that there will be growth in conveyancing work this year. Last year, 75% of Conveyancers experienced at least a 10% growth in their work, and 41% of them saw a work increase of 25% or more.

Because of this, 52% of Conveyancers are looking to increase their workforce over the coming year. This is good news for Legal Secretaries Diploma graduates or experienced Legal Secretaries with Conveyancing skills.

Are You Jeopardising Your Job Search?

The job market can be very competitive, and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you are not being successful in job applications simply because of that factor. It could be that you are jeopardising your own job search without knowing it, and a few simple changes could help you to be much more successful in finding employment.

Make sure that you are prepared

Useful Tips for Effective Note Taking

When teaching on the Diploma course, I often see students trying to write down everything that is discussed in class. Now you may be able to write down every single thing that is said, but this type of note taking is rarely the best way to learn or remember information. Effective note taking is a skill, and there are different theories and techniques that you can try in order to develop the style that suits you best.

How to Get Noticed and Be Appreciated at Work in 2015

Passing below the radar can be easy to do when working in secretarial roles. People conducting their job perfectly might not receive the recognition that they deserve simply because everything is running smoothly and therefore they don’t draw attention to themselves. There are several things that you can do to make sure that your work doesn’t go unnoticed, and the New Year is the perfect time to start bringing attention to yourself.

Become a Trainee Legal Secretary with Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright is a global legal practice who have more than 3800 lawyers based in over 50 cities across Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.

Recognised for their industry focus, they are strong across all the key industry sectors: financial institutions; energy; infrastructure, mining and commodities; transport; technology and innovation; and life sciences and healthcare.