2017

Should Mediation be Compulsory for all Cases?

In England and Wales mediation has become a common feature of many types of litigation. Sir Rupert Jackson’s 2009 report on civil litigation recommended that the courts can and should in appropriate cases encourage mediation. This may be limited to simply pointing out its benefits or requiring an explanation from parties when they are not willing to meet and/or discuss mediation. However, where a party is found to have unreasonably refused to mediate, they can be penalised in costs by the court.

Different Ways of Submitting Evidence in Court

As a student with The Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs, it is always a good idea to acquire a clear appreciation of exactly how the English legal system works. From the conventions of Parliament that have accrued over many centuries to how evidence may be given in court in light of the fact that we now live in an advanced technological age. It is this latter dimension of our judicial system that we will turn our attention to in this article.

SecsintheCity’s PA of the Year Award Winners Announced!

The SecsintheCity PA of the Year Awards were bigger than ever in 2017 with over 450 nominations and 16 shortlisted PAs and EAs.

The individuals who made the cut were from a variety of sectors and companies, including TSB Bank, Warner Brothers, Arsenal Football Club, The Law Society and Cath Kidston. The shortlisted PAs/EAs were interviewed by a panel of judges and the winners announced at an awards ceremony at the prestigious Ivy restaurant.

This year, there were two Legal PA winners:

ILSPA’s Job Candidate Database

ILSPA’s job candidate database is an extremely valuable resource for candidates and recruiters alike. We have created a niche platform specifically designed for Legal Secretaries and recruiters to connect and form mutually beneficial relationships. Our exclusive database enables each party to easily navigate the process of job and candidate seeking, allowing for promotion of both sides, specialised searching and ease of contact.

Why the Flexible Court Hours Pilot Has Been Postponed

In this age of austerity, the court system of England and Wales probably knew that at some point it would be closely scrutinised to ascertain whether efficiency savings could be made. Because every single government body is being examined so carefully nowadays, it was only a matter of time until court opening times were evaluated in order to determine whether there was a more efficient way of doing things. This is why the flexible court hours pilot was conceived in an attempt to streamline the court system.

Pre-action Protocol for Debt Claims

On 1 October 2017 we saw the long-awaited pre-action protocol for debt claims come into force. A pre-action protocol is a set of steps contained in the Civil Procedural Rules that parties must follow before a claim is made. The idea behind having a protocol is to promote early settlement of claims and reduce legal costs. If a party ignores a protocol, then he or she may be subject to a penalty in legal costs allowed by the Court.

21st-Century Wills – Part 2

In August, we considered the Law Commissions’ consultation on how Wills are made in England and Wales. That article reviewed four of eight key proposals, including: 

•    The courts being given greater flexibility
•    Online Wills being allowed
•    The age of testamentary capacity being reduced 
•    How the tests of capacity could be improved 

This month we are looking at four further proposals, namely: 

A Trip to The Courts is Enjoyable as well as Educational

When most people think of paying a visit to a court, it is usually either associated with a wrongdoing, for example, criminal activity – or, perhaps, as part of an educational field trip. Yet, the recent announcement from tourist review site TripAdvisor, recognising the UK Supreme Court with an Award of Excellence, is encouraging those outside these typical visitors to enjoy a day at the courts. There are also great reviews about the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand.

How to Follow Up on a Job Interview

The job-seeking process can be a nerve-wracking time for anyone. These nerves can be further exacerbated if you’ve had a recent interview with the company of your dreams and have yet to hear back from them. Stay positive; it is important to remember that the process of job seeking doesn’t necessarily end at the interview. When looking for a new job opportunity, you should keep in mind that each step of the recruitment process is a time to be proactive and maintain interaction with the employer.

PA Network and Development Conference – Bristol

Places are selling out fast for a development conference which offers training and support to key office staff.

The event is being staged in Bristol, by the Exeter PA Network. It offers training, development and networking for Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants, Secretaries and Administrators, and is open to attendees from across the country. It follows the success of the network’s inaugural conference last year, which was run in partnership with the Bristol and Cardiff PA Networks.

Who Regulates our Legal Services?

We tend to place a lot of trust in the legal system. These services are enlisted when our own abilities to negotiate have been dried up, when a significant wrongdoing has been brought against us or even leading up to achieving a milestone (homeownership, launching a new business, etc.). It’s also during times of distress that legal services are required, which makes it even more important to have representatives who can be trusted. But who regulates these professions?

Are You a Good Communicator?

How we communicate has a big impact on our lives. The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others. This is a process that involves both the sender and the receiver of the message. To be successful in business you must communicate well, and communicating effectively is at the heart of interpersonal skills. Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness. Understanding your personal style of communicating will go a long way towards helping you to create good and lasting impressions on others.

Attaining Equality in the Legal Profession

Hot in the news recently has been the topic of the inequality of men and women in regards to pay. It has come to light that a gender pay gap still exists in some professions in our country, and this is an issue we need to resolve.

Even though we have a little way to go, we must remember how far we’ve come as women. Just a few decades ago, women were denied basic rights that we take for granted now, such as being allowed to vote, owning property or working in certain professions.  

How to Avoid Procrastination

Everybody, at some point in their life, has procrastinated in order to avoid doing their work or a task, in the vain hope that it might complete itself or maybe even disappear. Unfortunately for you and me, the task never disappears; in fact it normally gets more and more urgent or difficult to do. The best way out of this circle is probably not to get into it in the first place.

Positive Changes to Our Rights to Online Privacy

In this age of technological advances and reliance on social media, the topics that we see frequently grabbing the headlines are the problems that unwanted photographs or information online can cause unsuspecting individuals. Take, for example, unflattering or embarrassing photos or references to personal situations that happened long ago finding their way into the hands of someone’s prospective employer.

The Role of the Law Commission

The Law Commission is an independent body, but one which has statutory powers in terms of the law in this country. It was founded following the Law Commissions Act of 1965, with the overarching aim of providing continuous review and reform of the laws of England and Wales.

The Law Commission itself states that it has four primary objectives in terms of how it carries out its role. It aims to make sure that the law is:

•    Fair
•    Simple
•    Modern
•    Cost effective

The Success of Two Legal PAs at Allen Overy

Michelle Gager from Career Legal had the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the world of job sharing at global law firm Allen & Overy. She interviewed Jane Templeman and Joanne Mackay, who started their careers as Legal PAs and now job share as Group Managers in Litigation & Tax. Jane and Joanne are a great inspiration to ILSPA’s Students and Members.

Could You be the SecsintheCity Legal PA of the Year 2017?

SecsintheCity, the UK’s only specialist job site for PAs and EAs, has launched their annual PA of the Year Awards.
 
For the sixth year running, we’re shining a light on PAs’ critical contribution to business, showcasing the country’s powerhouses of proactivity and professionalism.

Why Enter?

Scooping an award is the ultimate career accolade. So if you’ve earned a shot at the shortlist or know a PA who makes anything possible, it’s payback time. 

Should the Legal Age to Write a Will be Lowered?

When you consider that the vast majority of the law connected with Wills comes from an Act of Parliament that received Royal Assent at the very start of the Victorian era (the Wills Act 1837) and the capacity issue for writing a Will comes from a case precedent in 1870, it will not come as a surprise to any of us that the Law Commission has been evaluating the possibility of reform in this area. The Commission feels that the current legal age of 18 should be lowered to 16.

An Overview of a Legal Secretary’s Role in Litigation Cases

There is no denying that working as a Legal Secretary can prove to be an exceptionally exciting and rewarding career choice. If you are involved in dealing with litigation cases, you should find that no two days are ever the same. Even more important, those dreadful Monday morning blues will hopefully become a thing of the past when you actively look forward to turning up for your job at the start of a brand-new week. 

Standing Out in the Crowd – Part 2

Last month, I was looking at the motto of the Olympic Games (“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”) and indicated that it didn’t just apply to Olympians but to anyone who wanted to be the best, or at least be amongst the best, in whatever sphere where they wanted to excel. But, like with anything worthwhile, you have to work at it; it won’t be handed to you on a plate.

21st-Century Wills

This month, we will consider the Law Commissions’ consultation on how Wills are made in England and Wales. Some of the key issues that are under review include:

• Giving greater flexibility to the Courts to uphold Wills that do not meet legal requirements 

• The possibility of online or electronic Will writing in the future

• Reducing the age at which someone can make a Will from 18 to 16

• Improving tests of a person’s capacity to make a Will 

A Beginner’s Guide to Land Law

This month, we are reviewing key aspects of English land law. Students often find land law a difficult subject to study. Part of the reason for this may be because ownership of land in England has its roots in the feudal system established by William the Conqueror after 1066. The modern source of land law is derived from common law, equity, and legislation such as the Law of Property Act 1925 and the Land Registration Act 2002. 

Are You a Procrastinator?

Almost everybody at some point in their lives has procrastinated in order to avoid doing their work or a task in the vain hope that it might complete itself, or maybe even disappear. Unfortunately for you and me, it never disappears; in fact, it normally gets more and more urgent or difficult to do. The best way out of this cycle is probably not to get into it in the first place.

How to Deal With Challenging Clients

Dealing with clients can be one of the most challenging aspects of legal practice. Some clients can be patient and appreciative of your work, whilst others can be very hard to satisfy, demanding, stressful and upsetting. Clients may even not pay their fees, complain to the Law Society or sue for negligence if they feel that they have been treated unfairly. 

A Guide To Improving Your Memory

Have you ever wished you could remember all the new names, faces, numbers, addresses, images and tasks that you come across every day of your life? Imagine the time saved and embarrassing moments spared if you could remember every detail of every day. Unfortunately, experts agree that a perfect photographic memory is a thing of fiction.

Continuing Professional Development Can Advance Your Career

When we are passionate about our careers we naturally look into ways of improving our practice. Continuing professional development is a process which encourages that improvement and is widely recognised as an integral part of professional progression. Through continuing professional development we can advance, refine and reflect on the work that we do, encouraging more effective practice and greater rewards in the future.

Ground Rent – A New Leasehold Scandal Brewing?

This month we are considering a form of land ownership, leasehold, that has been described as a “murky corner of residential property”, and perhaps more worryingly if you own one, “a national scandal which dwarfs PPI”. With recent stories about homeowners having ground rents that double every 10 years and an all-party Parliamentary Group reporting on reforms in April 2017, even stronger language has been used by MPs describing leasehold houses as a “national con”. 

How The General Election Will Affect Proposed Laws

With the general election coming up in a few short days, many questions have arisen regarding how it will affect already proposed laws. While a good majority of those that were in question have since been passed (all of which will be discussed briefly below), there are still a few that have not been as successful. But what does that all mean in terms of the nearing election on June 8? 

Successful bills

Paralegals: Future-Proofing the Profession Conference 2017

The Professional Paralegal Register (PPR) is proud to announce that the second Paralegal Conference will take place on Thursday, 22 June at Wyboston Lakes, near Bedford. After the success of last year’s conference, this year the conference is entitled “Future-Proofing the Profession” and will hear from an expert panel of speakers as well as the guest keynote speaker, Chief Legal Ombudsman Kathryn Stone. 

The Advancement Of Technology Brings Security To The Legal Secretary Role

In today’s job market, the use of technology is increasingly taking over. Positions that were traditionally held by human beings are being replaced by computers and other forms of technology in the name of efficiency. But this is not true of every position. In fact, the advancement of technology has strengthened some job titles. One of those positions is that of the Legal Secretary. 

Agile Working – Measuring Performance and Deploying Resources in Your Law Firm

How Making a Small Change Can Make a Big Difference

Changing landscape

Gone are the days of the 1-to-1 or 1-to-3 ratio of Secretaries to Fee Earners. We’re now more likely to see 1-to-7 or even 1-to-10, and barely a week goes by without a firm announcing the centralisation of support resources, or support restructuring. 

Changes to Inheritance Tax

If you are currently studying the Legal Secretaries Diploma course and have studied the Wills, Probate and Administration module, you will be familiar with the fact that inheritance tax is not currently payable on estates below the “nil rate band”. The nil rate band (NRB) is currently set at £325,000, meaning that for any estate over this figure, tax is payable on the difference at the rate of 40%. 

How to Secure a Legal Secretary Job through LinkedIn

As we progress through the technological age, different elements of our daily lives progress with it. Procedures that were once traditional and mechanical have become modified, reconstructed and updated, and processes that took days, even weeks, can happen in a matter of seconds. The world of employment has not been immune to this evolution and continues to be significantly affected by the ongoing expansion of the modern age.

Latin Legal Terminology

Roman Law is the legal system invented by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. Having undergone the process of transformation and reinterpretation, Roman Law continues to influence legal thinking and legal practice to this day.

Update Your Candidate Profile to Secure Your Perfect Role

ILSPA’s Legal Secretary Jobs Board specialises in Legal Secretary jobs throughout the UK. The aim of the Jobs Board is to bring legal recruiters and top-quality candidates together, helping them to achieve their goals. ILSPA’s Members and Students are prime candidates for Legal Secretary and PA roles, as they have the knowledge, skills or experience employers are looking for. 

Email Scams – Be Vigilant

Paying Online.jpgThe Internet must easily rank as being the best invention of the late 20th century. The ease in which we are now able to communicate with each other around the world really is worth its weight in gold. And alas, this is exactly how more and more unscrupulous individuals feel about the potential opportunities to exploit others and even steal using the World Wide Web.

Land Law – Rent Charges

Rent charges have existed since the 13th century and have traditionally provided an income for landowners who allowed their land to be developed. It would be fair to say that in recent years, rent charges have not been a major feature of any conveyancing transaction, but that may be set to change. There have been a number of cases recently where private investment companies have been imposing heavy financial penalties on homeowners for non-payment.

Legal Secretary Vacancies April 2017

Here is a selection of vacancies from our Legal Secretary Jobs Board this month:

Legal Secretary – Clinical Negligence – Leigh Day
Location: London
Salary: Competitive

Leigh Day is seeking a Legal Secretary to assist a Partner and the team within their Clinical Negligence department. The successful applicant will hold a responsible position providing secretarial and litigation support to the Partner.

A Guide to Effective Communication

Good communication skills are a key part of being successful. Being able to effectively communicate as an individual or in a team will help you to generate good relationships between individuals, better understand objectives and resolve problems more easily. We are all capable of communicating effectively and use a range of different skills to achieve this every day. 

Different types of communication

From Secretary to Partner to OBE!

This New Year’s honours list brought with it an inspiring and encouraging tale for our Members and for all those starting out in the legal field. Janet Cooper, partner and co-founder of the Yorkshire-based niche law firm Tapestry Compliance LLP, who began her career as a secretary before graduating in law, has been appointed Officer of the British Empire (OBE).

The Future of Digital Conveyancing

Modern technology has simplified many aspects of our lives, both personally and commercially. It has been possible to shop or take out contracts and arrange finance electronically for some years now. However, the conveyancing industry has been slow to adapt to, or to adopt, the new technologies available. 

How to Be Assertive

Assertiveness is a direct, honest and respectful way of behaving and interacting with others. It is seen as one of the most desirable forms of human behaviour as it leads to honest and healthy relationships. As a Legal Secretary, the ability to be assertive will help you greatly in your career to communicate effectively with your colleagues and boss.

There are generally three types of human behaviour – non-assertive, aggressive and assertive.

ILSPA Profile – Maria Richards, Course Assessor

The Institute has a great team of people who help our Students achieve their goals. Maria Richards has been assisting Students with their queries and marking coursework for nearly eight years now. Her role within the company is of great value, and you can learn more about her here.

How did you become a Course Assessor with the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs?

The Creation of an Online Court System

As part of our regular practice updates, this month we will be considering the latest proposals for expanding ‘e-justice’ in the civil court system. The Civil Justice Council has called for the creation of an online court within the next two years. This would be a radical overhaul of the current UK court system. Key features would include virtual courtrooms, a lawyer-free environment and the possibility of services similar to the eBay disagreement negotiating procedure.

Why You Need a Good CV

Imagine that you are an employer with one vacancy to fill and an array of hopeful candidates’ CVs. What attributes would a CV have to possess to separate it from the pile? What would intrigue you about a candidate enough for you to take the next step to invite them for an interview?

What is Civil Law?

When some people think of the legal profession, they often think of criminal law. This is not surprising, as there are many popular television programmes about criminals and the criminal justice system. Civil law is often less dramatic and very much a part of our normal lives, and so it is often overlooked. However, civil law is a vitally important part of our society, even if people are unaware of how it affects them.

A Summary of the Civil Law Courts of England and Wales

It is important to note that there have been a few changes to the structure of the civil courts system in England and Wales over the past 10 years or so, the most important of which occurred at the very top of this hierarchical chain with a change in name from the House of Lords to the Supreme Court. Also, there have been a few changes to the Family Court that primarily derived from Part II of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

Should Cohabitors Have Equal Rights?

In days of yore it was so much simpler – you were either married or you weren’t. The sanctity of marriage was the norm. You reached, say, your late teens or early twenties, you got engaged, and then you were married; whether you lived happily ever after was another matter. In those days, in both a sociological and a legal way, marriage was to be supported, and it was.

Will You Be Excellent in 2017?

Excellence is about delivering work of quality and doing the best you can do at every moment. Success naturally follows for those who are prepared to go that extra mile in their job and are willing to devote their time and effort to bettering themselves. Excellence is brought about by doing things better than they have been done before, and only being satisfied with the very best from yourself.

The Inspiring Story of Haben Girma

Can you imagine the difficulties you would face going through law school as a deaf person? The image in our heads is most probably one of us relying almost exclusively on our powers of sight to intake any information presented to us. Can you imagine, then, taking away the power of sight also? Now imagine that the law school in question is Harvard, noted as one of the top law schools in the world, regarded for both its remarkable academic excellence and prestigious previous alumni.

Understanding the Professional Roles in Our Legal System

If you are new to the subject of law, you will hear different terms apportioned to the professionals who work within our legal system, but not fully understand exactly what each of them do. Due to the glamorisation of our legal system in film and television, most people will have a concept of many of the legal professional roles; however, this article aims to help you to understand what each role entails and how you can work your way up the ladder.

Legal Secretaries