Career Experiences

An Interview with Karen Chirnside – Legal Assistant/PA at Roche Legal

Karen Chirnside_0.jpgKaren is a highly accomplished Legal Secretary/PA with over 32 years’ experience in the legal profession. She has been a Member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs since 2009 and was awarded the status of Lifelong Fellow of the Institute in 2016. Karen currently works as a Legal Assistant/PA for Roche Legal, an acclaimed boutique firm of private client solicitors based in York.

We recently spoke to Karen about her career, current position and what advice she would give to other Legal Secretaries just starting out in the field.

What does your role involve at Roche Legal?

Inspirational Women in Law

Inspirational Women.jpgThis year marks the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote in the UK. A year after this was granted, the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was passed, and women could become qualified lawyers for the first time. To celebrate the progress made in women’s rights, we’ll be taking a look at five inspirational women who have made their mark in the legal industry over the past century.

Gwyneth Bebb

1889 – 1921


Interview with Legal Secretary Rebecca Bouhsine

Rebecca.pngRebecca Bouhsine is a successful Legal Secretary and current Student here at the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs. Having previously completed ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma and our Civil Litigation Advanced Diploma, Rebecca is currently working towards her Criminal Law Advanced Diploma with us. Rebecca kindly took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about her role, her studies and what advice she would give to others who want to enter the profession.

What does your role involve at Voisin Law?

Interview with Rachel Newman – Previous Winner of Legal PA of the Year

Rachel Interview .jpgWith the PA of the Year Award nominations now open, we caught up with previous Legal PA of the Year Rachel Newman to discuss the PA of the Year Awards, talk about her career as a Legal PA and garner some top tips for other Legal employees in the industry.

Tell us about your experience of the 2014 PA of the Year Awards.

An Interview with Kathleen Riordan – Legal PA of the Year 2017

Kathleen Riordan.jpgKathleen Riordan won Legal PA of the Year at SecsintheCity’s PA of the Year Awards 2017. The judges praised Kathleen, as one of her nominations said: she’s “the embodiment of team first, self second, Kathleen works conscientiously and tirelessly, often without recognition, to get the job done.” In this interview, we’ll find out how Kathleen became a Legal PA and what drives her to succeed in the role.

How did you become a PA?

After finishing university and working as a Senior Sales Administrator, I felt that I needed a change and started temping as a PA/secretary. During this time I realised how different and interesting PA roles could be, and I gained a lot of experience during this time which led me to my career as a PA.

From Legal Secretary to Qualified Lawyer

Secretary to Lawyer.jpgFor your interest, inspiration that anything is achievable and also, I hope, enjoyment, I set out below in summary how I progressed my career from secretary to qualified lawyer and subsequently programme leader for over ten years at The Law School at The University of Westminster.

It all started following my A-levels and a brief spell in retail, as I decided to embark on a legal secretarial course at Enfield College. Although I struggled with Pitman shorthand, I very much enjoyed the trips to The Old Bailey and local County Court. I left Enfield College a far more able and organised individual, with a very high typing speed (my forte) as well as a legal secretarial qualification enabling me to secure employment.

Meet Lyn Lennox: An Outstanding Legal PA

Lyn Lennox (4).jpgAt SecsintheCity’s PA of the Year Awards 2017, there were two Legal PA winners. Meet Lyn Lennox, Legal PA at The Law Society and winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award.

How did you become a PA?

I studied a PA Diploma and A levels at college, after which I became a Legal Secretary at a major London law firm. After this role, I was lucky enough to be recruited as a PA to a Chairman of a London surveyors.

What’s great about your job at The Law Society?

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.  

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. When Jane started at Allen & Overy as a Legal PA, she did not have any previous legal experience and learnt on the job. Joanne started the firm as a junior Legal PA and worked her way up.

Jane Templeman – Group Manager in Litigation and Tax at Allen & Overy

Jacqueline McGuigan – From Legal Secretary to Lawyer

We at ILSPA believe that, with the right initiative, our students have the potential to reach any goal that they aspire to. This belief has been supported recently in the case of Jacqueline McGuigan, former Legal Secretary, now Lawyer, who rose to media fame due to a significant employment law case. This achievement stands as a testimony to the fact that Legal Secretaries with talent, ambition and motivation have unlimited potential within the legal sector and could even go on to winning cases that are reported in the national news.