Emma Stacey has been working at ILSPA for 10 years and celebrated this wonderful milestone at an organic restaurant near the head office at Dartington Hall at the end of November. She started in November 2004 and has had a big hand in the growth of the Institute over the years, helping it become what it is today. Emma answered some questions so you could find out more.
What was it like taking on the role of Chief Executive at ILSPA?
I was over the moon to be given such a fantastic opportunity. My previous experience working for the National Association of Licensed Paralegals was perfect for the role as I was used to having a lot of responsibility and had been helping their Members at Paralegal level. The career path of a Legal Secretary was of great interest to me, and I aimed to create an organisation which not only provided excellent training for those who are trainees or experienced, but also was a place where people could receive advice and support throughout their careers. My first year of running the Legal Secretaries Diploma course was immensely positive. It was very popular and gave me the confidence that I was on the right path.
What significant changes have been made to ILSPA in the past 10 years?
When I started in 2004, there was a lot of work to do to bring the Institute up to date with the modern world and technology. I wanted to make our training and career guidance appealing to all ages and nationalities. Our website has undergone a huge transformation from a simple site where people could read information about what we provide to a platform where Students can enrol and study online wherever they live in the world. We also have an online Membership area where ILSPA Members can access a wealth of resources to help them in their careers. In 2007, our Legal Secretary Journal went online, and a year later we created a Legal Secretary Jobs Board for those wanting to secure employment or find good candidates for positions. We continuously strive to provide better services, and we are currently in the process of creating a personalised recruitment service for employers and Members.
What’s your best advice to people wanting to start a new career as a Legal Secretary?
To keep in mind that everyone has to start at the beginning. Sometimes people see job adverts or speak to recruitment agencies that require experienced Legal Secretaries, and this causes discouragement. The most important thing to understand is that every experienced Legal Secretary was once inexperienced and in the same boat. They now have a successful Legal Secretary career and so can you! Our Legal Secretaries Diploma Students have such an advantage over others starting out in the profession as they are given the legal knowledge and skills they need to be competent in Legal Secretary work. They also have access to professional development advice and legal resources through Membership. As long as people acquire the right skills and have confidence in their abilities, they will achieve their goals. We help our Students and Members to secure employment through CV help and guidance.
What’s your favourite part of your role?
I love talking to people on the telephone, whether they are potential Students or experienced Members. It is fascinating to learn about people’s backgrounds and goals. Being able to help them achieve those goals is very rewarding. It makes my day when we receive feedback from Students and Members about how they have enjoyed our training or how they have secured employment as a Legal Secretary due to our guidance and support. It’s especially fulfilling when they join us with little self- confidence and we see them blossom into competent Legal Secretaries.
What are the other members of the ILSPA team like?
I feel blessed to work with such great people, and they are all very dedicated. Our tutors – Amanda, Seamus and Jonathan – are inspiring people whose passion for law shines through to our Students. I work closely with our Administrator, Megan, who is extremely competent in her role and has taken on many responsibilities, which has made my working life easier. There are people behind the scenes, like our IT team who work on our systems, websites and database, and have done a wonderful job in helping us to be more efficient and making our website users’ experience more enjoyable. We all get along very well and like to spend time together socially when possible to connect on a different level. We went for lunch with our IT team this week, which was great fun!
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working at the Institute?
I have a 4-year-old son whom I love spending time with. We go for walks in the countryside, read and do creative things at home. In my free time, I enjoy playing the piano, gardening and foraging. I have a very good work-life balance.