Career Experiences

An Interview with ILSPA Student Vicky Cons

Vicky Cons was working as a full-time Team Manager at Tesco when she decided to take the plunge and begin her studies to become a Legal Secretary. Little did she know that soon after starting her studies the world would go into lockdown. Clearly not one to be deterred, Vicky continued to work full time as a key worker throughout the pandemic. She completed ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma with a distinction and secured her first Legal Secretary role while still waiting for her results.

Vicky kindly took the time to speak to ILSPA about how she found her studies and looking for work during the pandemic. She also provided some great advice for Students who plan to look for work before they have completed the course.

What were you doing before studying with ILSPA?

Before and during studying with ILSPA, I worked at Tesco as a Team Manager full time.

What was it about being a Legal Secretary that interested you, and why did you decide to study ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma?

Freshfields Assistant Named Legal PA of the Year

On the evening of Thursday 12 November, 20 of the UK’s most talented Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants and Office Managers celebrated their successes at the ninth annual PA of the Year Awards.

Hosted by niche business support job board SecsintheCity, the awards were held virtually for the first time. Logging on to Zoom for the awards ceremony, all the hopeful finalists and their supportive bosses fully embraced the event’s traditional black-tie dress code.

Tanya Jennings, PA to a partner at global law firm Freshfields, took the time to answer a few questions about her career so far and what it’s like to be named the 2020 Legal PA of the Year.

Hi, Tanya. How did you become a Legal PA?

“It all started when my dad told me it was time to get a job! After applying for a number of secretarial roles, I joined as a Legal PA at a local law firm. I can picture myself now – I was a nervous wreck. However, I’m not any more, and doing this role has definitely contributed to that!”

What can you tell us about your current role supporting a Partner at Freshfields?

Q&A with Eleanor Lawson - Legal PA of the Year Finalist 2019

We are looking for the brightest and most talented Legal PAs for the PA of the Year Awards 2020. If you work in a law firm and want to celebrate the achievements of a colleague, or if you’re a Legal PA yourself whose hard work deserves some recognition, then we want to hear from you.

If you aren’t quite convinced to submit a nomination yet, read on to find out first hand from Legal PA of the Year finalist Eleanor Lawson about her experience with the PA of the Year Awards 2019.

Hello, Eleanor. How did you become a Legal PA?

“After finishing my A levels, I decided I didn't want to go to university, so I applied for a job as an Apprentice Business Administrator at DWF Law LLP. After completing my apprenticeship, a vacancy for a Personal Assistant became available on the corporate team and I was offered the role and promoted.”

What do you love about being a Legal PA?

An Interview with Senior Paralegal and ILSPA Graduate Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson is a LL.B Law Student, NALP Licensed Paralegal and Fellowship Member of the ILSPA. Craig is currently a Senior Paralegal at Court Assistance UK and has a BSB License to Instruct Counsel. 

After working as a Paralegal and completing NALP’s Level 4 Diploma in Paralegal Studies, Craig decided to enrol on ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma. He felt it was a good way to refresh his legal knowledge and expand his skills in areas he hadn’t worked in before.

ILSPA was delighted to speak to Craig and hear how he found studying our Legal Secretary qualification as a Paralegal. He told us why he feels that ILSPA’s Diploma is a fantastic refresher course for senior legal professionals, as well as those starting their legal careers.        

Tell us about your career so far. What do you currently do in the legal sector?

I have been a qualified Paralegal since 2018 and qualified with the National Association of Licensed Paralegals. I have worked within different sectors of law and originally started my legal career working for a small car company, handling aspects of contract law and company law.

An Interview with Alexander Nair – ILSPA Graduate

We would like to introduce you to an exceptional graduate, Alexander Nair. Alexander enrolled on our Legal Secretaries Diploma course at the beginning of May and qualified with a distinction within a month!

You would be forgiven for assuming that Alexander must come from a legal background to be able to achieve this, but – although he’s studied a couple of introductory legal courses – you could not be further from the truth. Despite always having an interest in law, Alexander is actually an actor. When he’s not acting, he works as a receptionist and office coordinator. He decided to take ILSPA’s course to advance his skills and move into the legal sector.

We spoke to Alexander about his success, why he decided to take our course and the future.

Can you tell us about your professional background?

Starting a New Job Remotely: An interview with EA Gina Haynes

Starting a new job can be a daunting experience for even the most experienced professionals, but starting a new job remotely presents even greater challenges still. We spoke with experienced Executive Assistant Gina Haynes who shared details about her recent experience of on-boarding remotely and her advice for starting a new job while working from home.

Could you tell us a bit about your career history and the new job you recently started?

I have been working as an EA/PA for 23 years, predominantly in the banking and finance industry on a permanent basis, based in the City of London. I got made redundant a while back and have been working as a career temp since then, covering anything from three to twelve-month contracts, which I have really enjoyed. I started a new temporary role as EA to the MD of a Housing organisation three weeks ago now - it is an ongoing temporary role that could go on to a permanent contract, which is what I hope to find once this pandemic is over. I am screening emails, carrying out diary management and taking minutes of regular meetings. One of the regular meetings I attend is a daily Coronavirus meeting for the MD and team have to keep on top of how to deal with the current situation throughout the organisation, which I am finding interesting.

An Interview with Charlotte O’Brien – Family Legal Secretary at Birketts LLP

Charlotte O’Brien was an experienced PA working for a Director of multiple companies. When her PA role required her to get involved in a High Court case, she felt she needed a better understanding of law and decided to study ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma. From there, her interest in law grew and she decided to make the move into working as a Legal Secretary. 

Charlotte is now a Family Legal Secretary at the award-winning law firm Birketts LLP and is studying our Family Law Advanced Diploma. We spoke to Charlotte about her studies, her job search and how ILSPA’s Diploma helped her in both her previous role and her new role as a Legal Secretary.     

1. What were you doing before you studied with ILSPA?

Before I started the Legal Secretary Diploma, I was working as a Personal Assistant to a Director of a number of companies. I was involved in the preparation of a High Court case and liaising with solicitors for the company and, as such, I felt I needed to gain a qualification so that I was able to understand the terminology and improve my work. Before that, I worked at a high school as an Assistant to the Headteacher and office team.

An Interview With Tracey Jenkins – One of ILSPA’s Top Students

We are often asked whether you can study ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course with no Legal Secretary experience. The answer we always give is that the course is suitable for all levels of experience from beginners to experienced professionals. Tracey Jenkins, an ILSPA Student, decided to enrol on the course when she left her position in administration. Tracey had an interest in law but had no experience in a law firm. She passed the course with a distinction, achieving an incredible grade of 99%. We spoke to Tracey to find out about her background and how she found her studies.

Have you always been interested in law, and do you come from a legal background?

An Interview with Paralegal Gemma Williams

We recently had an excellent opportunity to sit down and speak with Gemma Williams, Paralegal at the largest news publisher in the UK, Reach PLC. In this interview, Gemma shares some invaluable insights into her Paralegal career so far, as well as some expert advice for aspiring Paralegals.

Tell me about the education route you took to become a Paralegal and your legal work experience prior to working for Reach PLC.

After taking a gap year, I completed my law degree in two years at BPP University and then went on to do a masters at King's College, London, focusing on international disputes. During my time at university I worked at several small firms including a local high street practice and a criminal firm in London. I also worked one day a week in the second year of my degree at King's College Hospital assisting with litigation and police requests, as well as completing a vacation scheme at a US firm.

An Interview With Charlotte Moon - From ILSPA Student to Senior Caseworker

When Charlotte Moon enrolled for ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course in 2011, she knew that she wanted a career in law but probably never imagined that one day she would be opening up her own department in a law firm. Charlotte in now a Senior Caseworker specialising in Family Law and has just completed her Level 6 Law and Practice Diploma. If you are wondering what progression is available for a Legal Secretary, then Charlotte’s story is a real eye-opener.

How did you find your studies with ILSPA?

I really enjoyed my studies with ILSPA. I studied at Regents College and the staff and materials provided were very helpful! I always had someone on hand for help if I needed them. As a result, I gained the knowledge I needed in order to not only pass the course, but it also prepared me well for my future career as a Legal Secretary.

What was your professional background before studying to become a Legal Secretary?