The role of Legal PAs is varied and requires them to have a wide and diverse skill set. One skill that is essential and very in demand is that of diary management. Diary management is sometimes overlooked as a specific skill, but nothing could be further from the truth.
SecsintheCity found in their most recent salary survey that diary management was listed as one of the most in-demand skills for professionals across the board, being stated by 21% of their audience. In collaboration with ILSPA, they have created this guide for Legal PAs to help them become experts in the field.
Calendar management involves coordinating, reviewing and maintaining a diary or calendar to ensure that all meetings, appointments, events and tasks are effectively scheduled, prioritised and executed.
As a Legal PA supporting one or more fee earners, the task of calendar management goes beyond simple scheduling. You’ll be the gatekeeper of your fee earner’s calendar. With requests, including verbally agreed meetings, directed to you, it’s your task to ensure your boss is informed when changes are made to the diary, especially cancellations or alterations that take place during that day.
Managing your Fee Earner’s Diary Effectively:
Diary management should be tailored to the needs of your fee earner. It is important to ask them how they like to set out their meetings and organise their calendar. Have discussions around how their current set-up is working and if there are any new initiatives you would like to introduce to better manage the calendar. The overarching aim, once you have full control over the diary, is to maximise your fee earner’s productivity through your diary management skills.
A good way to do this is to know what point of the day your fee earner is at their peak, whether they are a morning or afternoon person and when they like a break. It sounds simple but understanding someone’s way of working aids a smooth operation throughout the day. Once you have this information you will have a better understanding of when it is best to schedule meetings and when it is best to block out time for them to work.
- Managing recurring appointments: keep an eye on recurring meetings with key individuals. Are they often cancelled? Do attendees change date/time frequently? Are the meetings still worthwhile? Would it be better held by phone? If this is the case, it’s worth being proactive and revising the meeting details with your manager and the client.
- Ensure that all essential information is included within the calendar: date, time, location, attendees, agenda or meeting purpose, any supporting papers, and the type of meeting e.g. in person, or virtual - if so, what platform.
- Be proactive: especially in anticipating your fee earners’ whereabouts (are they in Court that day?) and always leave travel time and follow up time in between meetings.
- Take responsibility: does your fee earner have a deadline where they will need free time? Do they have a meeting that may overrun and therefore require a little leeway?
- Consider your organisational techniques: colour coding works effectively for categorising client meetings, personal takes, and 1 to 1’s.