Professional Development

Simplify Your Filing System and Retire Your To-File Pile

When was the last time you made an effort to catch up on your filing? Last month? Last summer?

Many times, we struggle with filing because it feels overwhelming, we’re not sure where to begin or we don’t have an efficient system in place.

Filing can be inconvenient and time-consuming. However, this is often because you don’t have the right tools or supplies to quickly grab a folder and create a label.

Filing usually means getting up from your desk, walking to a supply cabinet, locating the file folders, walking back to your desk, typing a label, feeding the label sheet into the printer, retrieving the label from the printer and finally assembling the file. It’s no wonder we resist it!

But there are ways to simplify your filing system. Here are two quick tips.

Your Way To Professional Competence

In last month’s edition of our journal, we outlined the Solicitor Regulation Authorities’ continuing competency regime. This has been in place for all legal businesses since 2016 and is something that all legal employees are expected to follow. The skill of self-reflection was considered, and a challenge was given for readers to identify the following:

  • Personal strengths and weaknesses

  • Tasks that could be done better

  • Areas where improvements in knowledge, skills or behaviours were needed

Armed with answers to these questions, you will have made your first personal reflective entry. In this article, we will consider what you should do with your reflections to ensure that you are making the best use of your training log.

How To Build A Business Case For Training Requests

Professional development is essential for every admin, regardless of experience. But when that training comes with a large price tag, it’s often out of reach.

The solution? Ask your employer to make an investment in you.

This investment can take many forms. It can be reimbursement for a webinar, registration for a professional development conference or even subsidising a course at your local community college.

Asking your employer to take a financial stake in your career can feel a bit uncomfortable. But when you approach them with a solid business case that explains why you’re requesting the training and what your employer and organisation can expect in return for their investment, it’s a lot less intimidating.

Here’s how to improve your chances of getting approval:

Reflection a Key Step to Competence

In the early part of any career, a lot of time is spent learning the skills, obtaining the knowledge and adopting the behaviours expected. This is certainly the case with Solicitors as they spend years (at least six if not more) reaching the required standard. By studying ILSPA’s Legal Secretaries Diploma course, you will have started the journey to competence in the legal profession.

When you start working within the legal environment, you are taking the next of many further steps in your learning journey. How your employer helps you with your continuing professional development (CPD) will vary, but the standard for any legal employer will be the same – continuing professional competence.

The Important Task of File Opening

This might strike you as a relatively mundane topic, but in legal practice, file opening is something that everyone in a law firm should be familiar with. That is not to say that everyone in the firm will be entrusted with this important task, and it is often well-trained admin and support staff like Legal Secretaries who are required to do this work.

The first clue you might have about the importance of file opening procedure is the fact that it is known by so many different names – customer due diligence, onboarding, verification of identity, verification of funds, anti-money laundering (AML). These are all terms that are commonly used in relation to the humble task of opening a file.

Top Note-Taking Tips for Legal Secretaries

Whether you are studying a course or working in a law firm, note taking is a significant part of a Legal Secretary’s role whatever stage you are at in your career. Efficient note taking can save you time, help your understanding and memory, and keep you organised.

Here are ILSPA’s top 10 tips for note taking.

  1. Find the format that works for you when taking notes so that it becomes natural and easy, whether it’s bullet points, annotations around text, short sentences, colour-coding or creating mind maps. Having your notes in a clear and relatable format will speed up your note taking and also help you find information again when you need to return to it.

Win Before You Begin

If you tend to procrastinate on certain projects, one reason could be that you haven’t created a victory in your mind first.

When you think about a project that isn’t advancing very well, consider these questions:

  • Do you have a clear vision of what success for this project looks like?

  • Can you see your desired end result clearly in your mind’s eye, like you’re recalling a vivid memory?

  • Is the path forward relatively clear, from start to finish?

  • Can you visualise the key action steps to bring the project to completion?

  • Have you firmly decided to do the project now (as in this week, this month or this quarter)?

The Advantages of Developing Your Professional Skills

As an ILSPA Member, you have the opportunity to be recognised for the professional development that you undertake in your career. One of our aims is to provide our Members with professional recognition for the quality of their knowledge and skills, therefore we actively encourage professional development through our CPD programme and our Legal Secretary Journal. ILSPA believes that it is essential for Legal Secretaries and PAs to develop their professional expertise in order to be successful in their roles.

The Solution-Focused Way

Finding solutions is not just what Secretaries do in their jobs every day; it’s also a necessary part of being resilient that can help us deal with life’s problems. The interesting thing about being solution-focused is that it’s not even necessary to know the details of a problem in order to fix it. You just have to focus on how you want things to be different and work towards that.

Analysing the problem won’t help solve the problem

5 Types of Office Clutter That Kill Your Productivity

Clutter: The collection of “stuff” lying around that creates disorganisation in your workplace. It sabotages your productivity and can adversely affect your mental health day in and day out.

It’s time to get it under control!

Research has shown that cluttered spaces have negative effects on stress and anxiety levels, the ability to focus, eating choices and even sleep. It also creates a poor first impression of your perceived skills and abilities at the office when someone stops by your desk.