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Silver Lining

Silver Lining

Looking for a silver lining can be tough right now, but in a time when there is constant change, and with so much uncertainty surrounding how long this will be the “norm”, I realised that this is an opportunity that the Legal Support community has been waiting for.

Often Legal Support staff will come to me frustrated as they aren’t able to secure flexible working arrangements with their current teams and firms. Their requests to Work from Home are more often than not denied, as many partners and/or firms assumed that these are roles that can’t be properly done away from the office! Well, what an opportunity this presents us with!

Now’s the chance for legal secretaries of all practice areas and levels to show that they can be just as valuable to their teams from home, and what an agile and flexible group you all are. So, to make the most of the current situation, I thought I’d share a few tips of how to excel from home. I can’t stress enough just how important it is that during this period you are able to show that WFH does work, and not only does it work, it works so well that next time you ask to WFH, it is more of a rhetorical question than anything else!


Just because you aren’t physically in the office with your team doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say “good morning”, whether it be by a WhatsApp group message or a team email. You should also end the day just like you would in the office (e.g. “Guys, I’m signing off in half an hour, does anyone need anything done before I finish?”).

Speak with the partners in your team (if you haven’t already) and agree with how they would like to be updated on what work you are up to and what you have on for the week, which includes the work you have outside of their practice, to ensure that they are aware of what you are doing for others. I strongly suggest a call at least once a week (but should realistically be done every couple of days) at an agreed time, so you can let them know what you have been working on and what you have on for the coming days, including letting them know about any extra duties you may have picked up from other teams. It doesn’t need to be a long conversation, but it’s important to keep the lines of communication open and not fall into the habit of email, which tends to forgo the general pleasantries (especially important for everyone in a time like this!).

Use these updates to express if you have the capacity to take on more work, or on the flipside, this is a great time to indicate that you have too much on and feel you may need some assistance.

If you are struggling to meet a deadline or have an influx of work, remember that unlike when you are in the office, everyone can’t see how busy you are, so you need to keep them updated. If they have asked you to complete a task, give them an approximate timeframe and update them if that changes.


Often because we aren’t in the office time can get away from us, especially when we are busy, but you don’t want partners or team members waiting for you to join a call or Zoom meeting. So, I would suggest at the beginning of each day, you check your diary for meetings and set your phone alarm before the meeting start time (ideally twice, e.g. 15 minutes and 2 minutes prior, respectively). The same trick can be used for an approaching deadline, so you are just as reliable and punctual at home as you would be in the office.


I’m sure it goes without saying but maintaining the same quality of work and attention to detail is imperative. Whilst working from laptops, using less screens than you normally have, or there are outside distractions like teaching kids from home whilst working full-time, it is understandable that there may be an increase in minor errors. That said, you want to maintain your reputation for strong attention to detail; so take just one or two minutes longer than you normally would to double check, proofread and edit everything you produce (yes, even with an email!) before sending it out.


It’s something most legal secretaries wouldn’t credit themselves with, but great legal secretaries are often the lynchpin of their teams. In the office they are the ones who check-in on all team members from paralegal to partner, they remember birthdays, and notice when someone is struggling. Now, more than ever, this is important for your team. Working from home is new for most, let alone working in a global pandemic.

You know your teams, check-in on those who live alone, haven’t been well, or make plans for a virtual singing of happy birthday. Perhaps it’s speaking with the partner(s) and suggesting fortnightly or monthly team Zoom drinks, a random team trivia competition, or our Montgomery favourite, twice-weekly team workouts (via Zoom, obviously). Ask some of your team for their ideas!

Being a positive member of the team is vital in the current climate. Keeping up morale will see you play a huge part in how successfully your team adapts and weathers the storm (pandemic), which is something that won’t be forgotten and that you can be proud of when it’s all said and done.

Whilst it may seem a big ask when people are balancing work and family commitments, I honestly believe that if some of our more traditional partners and firms see how successful and adaptable their legal secretaries can be during this crisis, this will only lead to greater flexibility in the future, which may just be the silver lining you have been looking for to stay motivated through this craziness!

Quick Checklist

· Set up a team WhatsApp group, if you don’t have technology that allows for casual messenger chat away from emails. Encourage and initiate informal chat with your direct team.

· Speak with your partner(s) about booking a time weekly (or more often!) for a call to update on your workflow and put it in both your diaries.

· Set phone alarms as reminders before meeting times, so you remain punctual.

· Note all team members birthdays, work anniversaries for the coming month(s), and make plans on how to mark these events with HR or your partners. It could be a team email, a team sing-along, flowers or cake delivery (be creative!).

· Don’t forget your manners! Saying “good morning” and “goodbye” is just as important, if not more important, during times when you are not being physically seen.

Sommer Bath

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