2016

Opportunities for Bilingual Secretaries

I once worked as a secretary for a large law firm which had offices in many countries, and on six of the seven continents. There were quite a few secretaries in the London office who were working their way around the world – just for this one firm! It was a great way to finance their adventures and must have been a massive boost to their CVs when they got home.

Top 10 Tips to Be the Best Distance Learner

The idea of being able to study a complete course from the comfort of your own home certainly sounds like an attractive proposition for many people. It allows you to enrol for courses that do not offer classes in your area, study at your own pace and fit your work around your existing commitments, to name but a few of the benefits. However, this style of learning may require many students to rethink their study methods and mind-set, especially if they are new to the concept.

Helpful Studying Tips for Four Classifications of Learners

Which category do you fall under?

Do you find yourself struggling to realise the study technique that works best for you? Do you feel you’re not making the best use of your study time? Different types of learners need to use different methods to make the most of their strengths. What works for one may not work for others. Here is our advice on the best study techniques for each of the four classifications of learners. 

Visual learners

Taking a Step Up

Moving from Secretary to PA is challenging – but rewarding

More and more these days, law firms are depending on the efforts of their highly skilled support staff to get the job done. Gone are the days when the business revolved entirely around the fee earners. This represents a great opportunity for those Legal Secretaries who are thinking about becoming PAs.

Legal Secretary Networking

Off the top of your head, what’s the best thing about the internet? Is it that you’re able to see as well as talk to friends and family members on the other side of the world? Is it that you can listen at any time of the day or night to practically any music track you can think of? Or is it simply that you’re never more than a minute away from a really cute cat video? 

Working Within Our Diverse Legal Industry

Before you commenced your studies through The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, it is likely you had a good idea of the area of law in which you would like to work.  However, if this is not the case and you are still pondering exactly what you should do after your course, hopefully this article will provide you with some inspiration and show you that the legal industry is indeed a very diverse one.

Thinking of Becoming a Legal Secretary? A Record Number of Law Firms Are Opening in the UK!

If you have been at all concerned about the number of job vacancies that are potentially available to you upon successful completion of your Legal Secretaries Diploma course with us, or are just leaving school or have been considering a change of career, you should certainly find more than a soupçon of inspiration in this article.

Recent Changes to CON29 Forms: How Do They Affect You?

As of July 2016, the old CON29R form was replaced by the new CON29. But what is the difference between the two forms, and what does it mean for those who are using them? There is certainly a wealth of information that anyone working with the CON29R should be familiar with – especially when considering there are thirty more questions on the new form! 

What’s in a Title? Uniquely Named Legal Positions

It has recently been announced that Sir Terence Etherton will become Master of the Rolls this month, and that got me thinking: how have we acquired these uniquely titled legal positions? Of course, answering this question took a little delving back into history, but the results highlighted long-held traditions and even ancient practices. 

Master of the Rolls

From PA to VA: My Journey

Having originally worked as a PA and Office Manager, I’ve been a freelance Virtual Assistant (VA) for just over three years now and I absolutely love it. Whether you are a PA in the legal sector or elsewhere, there are huge opportunities if you’re thinking of going freelance.

I’ve met tons of PAs, Secretaries and others recently who are thinking of going “virtual”, or are just interested in how the transition from PA to Virtual Assistant works – so here’s my story!

Can A Contract Be Amended By An Oral Agreement?

If the vast majority of people were asked whether or not a formal contract could be amended simply by way of an oral agreement, they would probably reply with an emphatic “no”. After all, most people who do not claim to hold any legal knowledge will have heard that an oral contract is not worth the paper it’s written on. However, those of us who understand the basics of this law of obligation may well come to a different conclusion.

How to Develop Good Study Skills

Developing good study skills is part of what the Institute tries to help every student learn when completing ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course. Law students know that being able to study effectively is the only way to get the best possible results. In addition, if you can master good study skills you will be more efficient in the workplace and, of course, you will have more free time to pursue other activities.

How To Gain Audio Typing Skills

An Audio Typist is a professional who specialises in transcribing documents from an audio source which they listen to. Audio typing is a valued ability to gain for those wishing to improve their professional skills as a Legal Secretary. There are a number of jobs which list audio typing as a stipulation, and although it not a skill that is always required, it will enable you to welcome better job prospects. 

ILSPA Profile – Seamus Ryan, Tutor

Seamus Ryan started teaching after he finished law school, over 20 years ago. He specialises in legal training and is a qualified Solicitor, a member of the Institute for Learning and a Law Society accredited Lexcel consultant. Seamus is very popular with our Students due to his friendly and helpful teaching approach. Students often impress Seamus with their level of commitment and enthusiasm for learning.

Sharpen Or Lift – What’s The Right Course For You?

September is the beginning of the new academic year, and you may have been helping relatives or friends prepare for it. Whether it’s the first day at reception class in a spick and span new uniform, or packing up the car to travel to a far-off university, there’s a feeling of excitement and anticipation in the air. Why not get some of that excitement and anticipation for yourself, by starting a new course that will help strengthen your CV and increase your earning potential? 

Loud and Clear: Telephone Court Hearings

If you’re the Secretary or PA of a litigation lawyer, you’ll know all about telephone hearings. Since the early 2000s, they’ve been the standard way of dealing with short applications in the courts – in fact, lawyers now have to give reasons why an application should not be heard by telephone, rather than the other way around. For others, though, the idea of having to fix a telephone hearing or conference can still be a bit daunting. Here’s a short summary of the things you need to know. 

Family Law: When Should Maintenance Payments Stop?

This month we will be considering the highly publicised case of Wright v Wright [2015] EWCA Civ 2015. Controversial comments made by Lord Justice Pitchford in the case suggested that the court’s approach would now favour, more than ever, the granting of temporary maintenance orders rather than orders that give an income for life. Before we look at the Wright case in detail we will first review the principles of maintenance and clean break orders.

Conflicts of Interest within the Legal Industry

As you embark on your career within the legal industry as a Legal Secretary or PA, you will very soon realise just how tight-knit this community really is and how easy it can be for a “conflict of interest” to arise. This is especially the case within barrister chambers when you consider the fact that there aren’t actually that many such firms providing this type of service in some parts of the country.

Career Legal’s Salary and Market Survey 2016

Career Legal say that 2016 may already be a year in which only the brave can confidently predict an outcome with certainty – but they can review the past 12 months with clarity and offer you a snapshot of our current market salaries with precision and authority.

 

Candidate Survey

For the second year running, Career Legal have conducted a survey with their candidates covering:
•    Salary and Bonus
•    Benefits

Be A Great Team Player

“Must be a good team player”. How often have you seen that in job descriptions and advertisements? And how often have you wondered what, exactly, the writer means? 

After all, there are all sorts of players in every team. Among others, there are the star strikers, and the motivators, and the organisers; there are the backroom boys and girls who make sure that the team’s task gets delivered. Which of these is the writer looking for – or is s/he looking for something else entirely? 

A Legal PA Achieves Job Satisfaction

I began my career as a Legal Secretary after finishing college, where I studied a two-year Business Administration and Secretarial course. After working for two different solicitor’s firms over the course of three years, I left the profession to work as an Administrator organising events at a local university. I had enjoyed working as a Legal Secretary, but I made the decision to change career due to the increase in salary, and I also liked the idea of gaining experience in events management. 

Act of God or Force Majeure: Interesting Outcomes

You’ve likely heard the expression ‘act of God’, usually in reference to insurance claims. But what’s the difference between it and force majeure, and under what circumstances does either apply? 

Acts of God

Acts of God are usually referred to with regard to insurance and typically include natural phenomena such as floods, lightning strikes, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Any large-scale, freak weather occurrence falls under this category.

Conveyancing: The Importance of Accuracy

A recent case in Manchester has highlighted the importance of paying attention to detail when it comes to conveyancing. An assistant solicitor has been fined £5,000 after forgetting to register a Notice of Interest in a property. His oversight was much dearer, however, for his client. As a result of the mistake, an investor didn’t receive £40,400 due when the property was sold! 

Losing the Plot

‘Getting Married’ — time for a change?

This month we will be considering the Law Commission’s scoping paper ‘Getting Married’, a review of marriage law that was done at the request of the Government. The key conclusion of the Commission’s paper was that the law was badly in need of reform. Marriage law should provide a fair and coherent legal framework for people to marry, but sadly the Commission identified that the existing marriage law is unnecessarily restrictive and outdated. 

SecsintheCity Summer Networking Event

SecsintheCity, the UK’s #1 job site for PAs and EAs, hosted their first Summer Networking Event last Thursday 9th June at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, London - The City. 

The Summer Networking Event provided 70 PAs with an opportunity for peer-to-peer networking over wine and canapés, as well as the chance to sample an array of food, beauty, health and lifestyle products from some of the best brands in the corporate sector.

What to Do When You’re Falling Behind

When I was a kid, it took me longer than I would have liked to learn how to ride a bike. I kept using a bike with training wheels and I didn’t practice much, so of course I didn’t learn how to balance.

One day I observed that my sister (younger than me by two and a half years) was getting close to figuring out how to ride a bike. She wasn’t quite there yet, but she was clearly much closer to balancing than I was. I couldn’t let her beat me to it!

A Day in the Life with Vicki Lister, Secretarial Manager, Reed Smith

Vicki Lister is the Secretarial, Catering and Reception Services Manager for Reed Smith, a global law firm based in London.

Vicki has worked her way up to her current management position after initially starting her career as a nanny. She then made the change to law and took on a secretarial role at a Magic Circle firm and has since progressed through promotion to her current role.

Vicki joins us to share her experience and what a typical day is like for her…

How Changes to Data Protection Laws May Affect Law Firms

New data protection laws are coming into effect across the EU this spring, and they’re set to be some of the most stringent in the world.

Here in the UK, prior to the new EU Data Protection Regulation there was no actual legal obligation for organisations to report personal data breaches to anyone, merely a recommendation that the Information Commissioner’s Office be made aware of serious breaches. 

Long-serving Legal Secretary Recognised For Her Outstanding Work

A member of Hethertons Solicitors team has been awarded a lifetime Membership of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs (ILSPA) for her outstanding work at the leading firm.
 
Karen Chirnside has received Fellowship Membership from the organisation having satisfied the strict requirements of the Institute, which include at least six years of experience as a Legal Secretary.
 

SecsintheCity Launches a Summer Networking Event for Personal and Executive Assistants

SecsintheCity, the UK’s #1 job site for PAs and EAs, has announced a new event for PAs and EAs – the Summer Networking Event – which will take place on 9 June 2016 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel London - The City.

The event offers PAs and EAs an opportunity to speed-network with high-profile PAs and EAs, including:
-          Jules Clark, PA to the CEO at Eversheds LLP
-          Alison Boler, PA to the SVP of Legal at Sony Music

See You in Court! Part 2: At Court

Last month, we looked at the etiquette involved in accompanying your boss to court. This month, we’ll have a look at what happens when you get there, what you can expect to happen and how you can help. 

Whether you’re attending court on a criminal or a civil case, one of the first things that will happen when you arrive is that your boss will have a conference with the client. In this article, however, I’m going to concentrate on what happens in civil cases, including family cases.

Increase in Tax for Owners of Second Homes and Buy-to-let Properties

Following changes to the stamp duty land transaction tax (SDLT) from 1 April 2016, higher rates of SDLT will apply to the purchase of additional residential properties (such as second homes and buy-to-let properties). The changes followed a surprise announcement by the Chancellor at the last budget and were passed in the Finance (No. 2) Bill 2015-16.

The Online ‘Digital’ Divorce Is Coming

Aside from the death of a loved one, divorce can be, and often is, one of the most stressful of all life’s events. It is rarely amicable, and one partner is usually hurting more than the other one. One of the biggest upsets with divorce can be the one-to-one confrontations in solicitors’ offices. These formal-type meetings tend to do more harm than good in a lot of cases. Well, what if you could cut out all those unpleasant face-to-face appointments with the future ex.

Who Goes There?

Password security is vital security

Last month’s huge data breach at the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca – to give you an idea of its size, it was hundreds of times bigger than the material released by Wikileaks in 2010 – is an example of just how much damage a data security leak can cause. The private affairs of the firm’s clients became public property overnight, allowing the press to trace money across continents and into tax havens. 

Asking for Feedback

Do you know what your boss thinks about your performance at work?

Some readers will be able to answer “yes” to this question without much thought because they go through evaluations at least once a year, and those evaluations are built into their work calendars. These meetings are a great opportunity not only to get feedback from their bosses, but also to give feedback about how their own job is working out for them – and to consider that all-important question of salary. 

Defamation – Developments in the Law on Reputation

What do Psychic Sally, Cameron Diaz and McDonald’s all have in common? Each has had a brush with the UK laws on defamation. We will consider the merits of each of their cases below and review whether the law on defamation is useful to the ordinary person or just a tool used by the wealthy to suppress free speech. We will also review the effect of the recent changes to the law made by the Defamation Act 2013, which came into force in England and Wales on 1 January 2014. 

Six Things that Will Renew Your Enthusiasm and Motivation at Work

Even if you love your job and your career, there are bound to be some weeks when it feels like the “same old, same old” routine, sometimes when you hit a plateau or a dip in the road. That doesn’t mean you need to change jobs or careers – or that you should resign yourself to feeling stagnant.

Here are six paths to renewal:

The English Legal System – An English Bill of Rights?

Since 2010 there have been serious discussions in Parliament about the possibility of creating a British Bill of Rights. The topic of constitutional law does not often become something of popular discussion, but following the Scottish referendum of 2014 and the current EU renegotiations by David Cameron, potential reforms are currently at the centre of British politics. 

A Very Surprising Cohabitee Case in Probate Law

Anyone familiar with the intricacies of probate law was probably watching Joy Williams’ recent case for a half share in her deceased partner’s property with a rather sympathetic smirk stretching across their face. Little could they have known what the eventual outcome would be, especially when it turned out to be a ruling that was utterly unexpected by all.

Former Executive Assistant to Oprah Winfrey Appears at office* 2016

The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs is very pleased to support *office with their valuable event this year.  There will be a wealth of excellent seminars and exhibitors available to assist you in your working life.

With visitor registration now open, office* – the award-winning business event for executive office support professionals, taking place at the new venue of ExCeL London on 11-12 May, has announced Libby Moore, former EA/chief of staff to Oprah Winfrey, as its first Keynote speaker for 2016.

The Professional Paralegal Register Conference

           The Professional Paralegal
               Register Conference
                            on 
                      21 April 2016
                             at 
      Wybston Lakes Executive Centre
          Great North Road, Wybston
                        MK44 3AL
 

Spare the Spellcheck

Be self-reliant when proofreading your documents

“Halo, I’m sorry to trouble you, I know your busty, but you sued us recently for some tiepin work and I wandered if you wood car to rate our services on a scale of wan to ten. …”

How Sorry Are You Really?

A New App Aims to Make You Less Apologetic

Here’s an interesting game to play if you monitor your boss’s emails. How many of the incoming emails start off by apologising (“I’m sorry to bother you, but ...”) or by minimising the subject (“I just need a quick word with you about ...”)? And of those, how many have been written by women? I’ll say this next bit in a whisper: are you even a bit guilty of doing this yourself?

Overcoming Procrastination

Procrastination, the habit of putting tasks off to the last possible minute, can be a major problem in both your career and your personal life. Side effects include missed opportunities, frenzied work hours, stress, overwhelmedness, resentment and guilt. This article will explore the root causes of procrastination and give you several practical tools for overcoming it.

The Rule in Pigot’s Case (1614) and Its Effect in Contract Law

As I am currently in the middle of an in-depth course that deals with the law of obligations, I have to admit to feeling a little ashamed of myself for never having heard of Pigot’s Case – especially the rule and the impact it currently has on English contract law. I have gone through every last textbook connected to the course with a fine-tooth comb, and there is not a single mention of this case anywhere.

Civil Litigation : Practice in focus - Advocacy and McKenzie Friends

In recent months we have written about the major changes to how litigation clients are paying for legal advice. Legal services are now being unbundled so clients can “pick and mix” when they want to pay for legal advice and when they will do it themselves. This month we will consider how unbundled legal advice fits in with representation at court hearings.

New Year Resolutions

Be honest, now. On the final day of the Christmas hols, when you were tidying the last of the festive debris from your handbag or pockets and thinking about your first day back at work, did your heart lighten – or sink? Or was it somewhere in the middle? 

Recent Changes to Family Law: Decree nisi and Statement to Support Divorce

In light of a Family Justice Review that was undertaken, HM Courts and Tribunals Service have decided to create a new single Family Court in England and Wales. Effectively, this will pull this area of law away from the county courts and should mean that this division of the legal system is able to deal with relevant cases far more expeditiously and cost-effectively. 

Looking Into 2016: The Near Future

The Robots Are Coming

The fresh, shiny new year has arrived, and I hope that you are also feeling fresh and shiny after the holiday break. What will 2016 hold for you, jobwise?

Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance, but one major development during 2015 that is likely to have some impact on your firm (and therefore on you) in the next year is the fast-moving field of artificial intelligence (AI) and the law.

30 Days to Success

A powerful personal growth tool is the 30-day trial. This is a concept I borrowed from the shareware industry, where you can download a trial version of a piece of software and try it out risk-free for 30 days before you’re required to buy the full version. It’s also a great way to develop new habits, and best of all, it’s brain-dead simple.

The Benefits of Being Part of a Professional Organisation

Joining a professional organisation is the best thing you can do for your career. It enables you to advance your skills, develop yourself professionally, show that you are committed to your career, and be recognised for the value work that you do. ILSPA provides its Members with many benefits, which are sought by those wanting support in their careers and law firms that want their staff to excel in their roles.

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