Professional Development

Assess your Legal Administration Skills

Everyone in the legal profession is confronted with a degree of administration duties. As a legal secretary this is an area you are expected to lead on. You may have years of “admin” experience and already consider yourself an expert, but it can be very beneficial to take an assessment of your current skill level from time to time. You may also just be starting in the legal profession, so we will start with the basics before considering what kinds of advanced skills would help you achieve expert status.

Achieving Personal and Professional Growth

Personal and professional growth comes from acting in ways that support our health, values, and goals. Turning our awareness towards what we really want from life and doing things that make us happy enables us to live more authentically and in alignment with ourselves.

You may have developed unhealthy habits or have responsibilities which are holding you back. A great way to break free of these and develop a more positive way of being is to create a code of conduct for yourself. You can do this by making a list of directives you would like to follow. At first you can brainstorm anything which comes to mind, then you can go through your list and refine it, focusing on the things that really matter.

Here are some examples of directives for you:

Finding Joy in Your Role

Some people choose a certain career path in life, as they feel that it is their calling. They are naturally gifted in their field and have a passion for what they do. In psychology, this is referred to as self-actualisation. Self-actualised people strive to achieve their highest potential and find meaning in their work. They love what they do and experience great joy in performing their roles. In respect of ILSPA’s Members, they can find their work interesting and rewarding and recognise that they make a significant contribution to their legal departments.

What if you don’t feel like this though? What if your heart is not in it and you don’t know what to do? One solution is to find a new job, of course, but there are ways in which you can change your mindset to feel more positive about your role.

The Art of Subtle Self-Promotion

As an administrative professional, you’re used to working behind the scenes. However, to keep your career moving forward, you need to practice some self-promotion.

There’s a big difference between bragging and subtle self-promotion. Bragging is implying that you’re somehow better than others. For instance, “I was just promoted to team lead and got a big raise because I’m the best admin ever!”

Self-promotion can be just simply stating a fact. For example, “After five years with my company, I finally got the promotion I’ve been working towards. It feels rewarding to have accomplished my goal.”

Why You Should Share Your Accomplishments

Sharing your accomplishments is a necessary part of your career development. Here’s why:

The Value of Peer Support

We all know the phrases ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ or ‘it’s good to talk’ but the benefits in talking about how you are feeling go far beyond this. When we are in a difficult situation, we lose our problem-solving abilities. It can be impossible to focus and it can seem overwhelming to choose what action to take. Sometimes a listening ear and a nudge in the right direction is all we need to move on. Social and emotional support and the role of individuals, families and communities in delivering this are vital to managing wellbeing. We all need someone to talk to about personal matters without judgement and in confidence. To listen to us and offer help when things get on top of us.

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.