Editor's Note: One of our authors recently came out of her private writing world to have an "adventure" in public. Below is the lesson she learned, which, in our view, can also be of use to all the authorpreneurs out there.
This document aims to help you achieve the goal of being an excellent legal admin officer. It explains the following issues, as you embark on the exciting journey of working with a bunch of lawyers in one of your city's most glamorous streets:
Firstly, you need to have a "CAN DO" attitude. Without this, you will not be able to handle this job. "Can do" applies not only to your daily admin tasks, but also to your colleagues and all those known and unknown clients out there who request your help. This attitude will give you a sense of mission and responsibility, as well as passion and desire to help.
Secondly, you need to PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS, particularly with spelling and numbers. As you constantly process all sorts of names and numbers, you need to check -- double check -- even triple check that all details are correct, before passing them out to your colleagues. Specifically, lawyers and your admin team depend on the accuracy of the information you supply.
Thirdly, you need to PRIOTIZE YOUR TASKS. No matter how fast and efficient you are, there will definitely be situations in which you are faced with multiple tasks. You need to figure out which tasks are more urgent than the others, and tackle them first. For example, delivering documents to courts and law firms on behalf of lawyers and filing notes after phone and personal attendances of clients are more urgent than photocopying. Getting to banks and post office on time is also important, as well as having the conference room tidied up in preparation for the next meeting.
Finally, you need to embrace TEAMWORK. Help as much as you can, but also don't hesitate to ask for help, particularly when you do need it. The legal admin system is designed in such a way that you and your colleagues can and should always share the workload. More importantly, in situations where your colleagues are busy, you should be able to pick up their work from where they stopped and go on to complete the tasks.
Oh, an extra note: Whenever you have a question and the urge to ask it, think: "Do I really need to bother this person in order to find out a solution? Can't I find the solution by myself?" It is OK if you cannot handle it, but a lot of times you will be surprised at how capable you are. (With the help of that god called Google, of course...)
You daily admin tasks can be said to include the following areas --
Front Desk: This includes not only the front desk area, but also the corridor outside, the conference and function rooms, the kitchen, and the office hall, and your job is to keep them all neat and tidy and full of light.
Phone Calls: You are the interface between clients and lawyers. Therefore, practice as hard as you can to make sure you have excellent phone manners. Always SMILE before you pick up the phone. Constantly remind yourself that you are a PROFESSIONAL and should be always COURTEOUS.
Scheduling: The life of all lawyers depends on this, so make sure you are extra careful when arranging appointments for them. Ensure you take note of all necessary details about the clients. ALWAYS invite other admin staff so the appointments show up on their Outlook calendars.
Greeting Clients: Again, you are the interface. Be COURTEOUS. Even when you encounter a difficult client on the phone or in person, make sure you don't lose your temper and/or sound impatient, as this will reflect badly on the law firm.
Maintaining Files: Pay extra attention to make sure all files are opened and closed properly. ACCURACY is of the utmost importance. You should focus more on accuracy than speed. Make sure you understand the complex steps before following them. When unsure, ASK.
Posting: You need to be extra careful when handling outgoing mail, particularly when there are INVOICES involved. The secret here is to know that no matter how complicated and daunting the whole thing may be, YOU CAN DO IT -- as long as you PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS.
Banking: Normal banking is fine, but you need to be super careful when dealing with the TRUST ACCOUNT and when using the credit card machine on the front desk. The law firm's livelihood depends on this.
Delivering Documents: Going to the Magistrates and County Courts is always exciting, and you should count it good luck if you get to go to the Supreme Court. Make sure you bring your mobile phone with you, and listen to lawyers' instructions carefully. Don't forget to file notes and put in your time in Leap Accounting afterwards.
Filing: As always, PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS, particularly the dates. When you do filing, you are being super helpful to lawyers, so make sure you follow their instructions.
Faxing, Scanning and Photocopying: As always, PAY ATTENTION TO DETAILS. As soon as you receive a fax, write it up in the form. As soon as you have scanned a document, make sure you go and check it, and rename it accordingly.
Other Necessary Tasks: These are aplenty, such as computer and software back-up, taking notes at meetings, distributing incoming mail, tidying up archived files, books and seminar materials, contacting/liaising with outside agencies, purchasing/picking up stuff from places, ordering, receiving and checking stationary items, feeding the ALWAYS HUNGRY copy machine, tidying up the stationary desk and the server area, tidying up the "Unclaimed Printouts" tray, cleaning out empty cardboard and toner cartridge boxes, helping with network drinks preparations, etc. The secret here is to enjoy whatever you do -- you cannot find a greater diversity of tasks anywhere else, so take advantage of this and LEARN as much as you can. Take notes whenever you can.
Here are some tips you may find useful:
Enjoy Your Work: This job can be fun if you have confidence. Know that YOU CAN DO IT, and this will help you pick up all the necessary skills. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. SMILE. Be PROFESSIONAL and COURTEOUS. SMILE.
Enjoy Your Lunch Hour: You may think like me, that if you can use the lunch hour to complete some of the tasks, then you will not have to stay at work beyond 5:30pm. But there is a very important for us to have the one-hour break -- so we can go out and recharge our batteries and then come back to tackle all the problems. Besides, there are so many wonderful eating places around the office.
Enjoy THE STREET: This is one of the best streets in your city. Even your office is a fascinating place that is worthy of your constant admiration. Make sure you take some time to look at the bank building, as well as the other heritage spots. Observe how that little pointy tower on top of your building comes into sunlight every morning on your way to work -- it is one of life's greatest luxuries.
Image thanks to: Lins Own Howling for the Kids.