I have a confession to make. Until three years ago I was essentially technologically “illiterate” - my years working in big firms with an IT department had made me lazy and rendered me useless with technology - I was in danger of being left behind.
One of the positive impacts of starting my own business was the need to develop technological literacy and fast. I discovered my clients expected a certain level of knowledge from me, and relied on me to trouble shoot and solve their technical issues.
Now you have been liberated from transcription, there is a whole host of other areas to upskill in, and technology plays a major role in these and the “new” Legal Secretarial roles of the future.
Digital Marketing - Social Media
Contrary to popular belief not every teenager with a smartphone is qualified to run a savvy social media campaign. As a freelancer it is by far and away the service I am most frequently contacted about providing, therefore is the number one skill I recommend that support staff should develop to future proof their roles.
If you work in a firm with an in house marketing department you are ideally placed to leverage off their expertise. Arrange a meeting and explain that as part of your development plan you are looking to upskill into social media – most internal support departments have gone through resource consolidation so chances are they would welcome the extra pair of hands. You could start off managing one account, curating content or even generating engagement reports.
If you are with a smaller firm, there may be scope to for you to manage the social media strategy if they do not already have one. This will be more challenging than in a larger firm where you have mentors – the learning curve will be steeper but if you can get it right the rewards will be greater.
Before pitching to your partner or practice manager make sure your basic skills and knowledge are up to scratch. Assuming that you know how to use the main social media platforms, you will still need to set aside time to brush up on the finer points of social media for enterprise.
A few cloud based apps that are a good starting point for this:
- Hootsuite – Social media account management tool that lets you schedule posts across multiple platforms from one account, and generate engagement reports. Also a good place to start for general information on social media.
- Hubspot – Inbound marketing software company – bypass the sales pitch and head to the marketing blog which has a lot of very useful information on social media and content marketing.
- Buffer – Post scheduler with Google Chrome extension so you can schedule posts straight from your browser.
- Coursera - Free online courses from top international universities.
- Canva – Graphic design software to generate appropriately sized social media graphics.
- Grammarly – Chrome extension that checks spelling and grammar as you type.
- Pixabay – Searchable online library of high quality creative commons images available to download and use for free.
We live in a knowledge economy and what better way to display understanding of your business then becoming familiar with your firm’s major targets and business development programs (and of course nothing is better then being part of the team that wins the firm a new client or piece of work!)
Meet with your BD Department or fee earner in charge of industry groups and offer to provide administrative support to the group. This can include preparing proposals, list management, research, cold calls, setting up meetings, coordinating digital marketing & collateral, facilitating team meetings and actions to name a few.
Many firms use the old favourite Powerpoint to prepare proposals, however there are a new range of e-proposal applications simplifying this process - Proposify and Bidsketch are but two examples.
Methods of managing target lists can range from a basic excel spreadsheet to fully customised databases. If your firm is stuck in the Excel zone, check out free cloud based CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) apps such Insightly or Nimble to unlock the value in the information you are capturing. Both programs boast social media integration, which means at the click of a mouse not only can you bring up all interactions with a target, but also list their social profiles and actions. Email and calendar integration captures correspondence and meetings, enriched reporting, marketing integrations, project management capabilities and advanced search functions will make you look like a business development superstar, all whilst providing an invaluable service to your firm, and broadening your own skill base.
This is a big one – so big in fact I have dedicated an entire blog to why developing your skills in broad practice management is the best thing you can do to support your fee earners in the short term, and fantastic for your own long term career development.
In general look for opportunities to support and be involved in administrative areas that can ease your fee earners work load, whether that be financials, billing or human resources. Watch this space – more information will be revealed in later issues!
I have included events on here although I am sure most of have had events coordination experience at some stage. If not, then I suggest start small and internal. Volunteer to organise the office Christmas party or team strategy session before moving onto external client events. Eventbrite is a great tool to help manage logistics such as invites, RSVPs, ticket sales and entry.
Start with one area that you are most interested in, or where there seems to be the most scope for support in your firm, and build from there. Talk to your fee earners or practice managers and build it into your performance review, they can support your efforts to broaden your skill base and it keeps you accountable.
Keep diversifying, embrace new skills and technology and you will be well placed to excel in the “New” Legal Secretary roles of the future.
Laura Osmetti, Founder and Director of ampm Executive Business Support.
ampm Executive Business Support specialise in providing strategic freelance administrative, marketing & events support to company Chairmen and Directors, C-Suite Executives & Practice Principals.