How Our Membership Benefits Our Employers
by Carol Wilson
Our membership in Legal Secretaries International benefits our employers in many ways, and I wonder if those employers have thought about it. What are some of those ways? At least some of the areas are: Resources, Office Procedures, Travel, and Ethics.
Lawyers' major resources are in their law libraries, and they learn about them in law school. They can go to the regional reporters for cases, to legal encyclopedias for additional information in certain areas of the law, to Shepards' to find out if their cited authorities are still good, to directories to find other lawyers as well as digests of laws, and to any of several collections of forms for how-to help.
Legal secretaries know how to use the law library. We have learned these skills through seminars, articles in our publications, and studying for certification examinations. Legal secretaries also have other resources that help them better serve their employers, and most of them we learn about through our professional association. I continue to be amazed to find law office employees who do not know about the Gregg Reference Manual or The Legal Secretary's Complete Handbook, or even how to use cross-cross dictionaries and access the wealth of information available from Martindale-Hubbell or the state editions from Legal Directories Publishing Company. We not only know what these resources are, but how to use them, and probably have a copy in our own personal libraries. In most instances, we have learned about these extremely useful resources through our membership-either through an article in one of our publications, through one of the seminars at our meetings, or through our excellent networking opportunities.
Through our membership and networking we know what software is being used, what is successful, how often it is upgraded, and general technology trends. We know that while WordPerfectâ was once the overwhelming choice of law offices, and that many are still using the 5.1 version, others have gone to Microsoft Word with great success, and many are already on WordPerfect 8. We also know the value of e-mail and of timesaving ways to use e-mail and information found on the Internet.
In communications, we know the finer points of matters having to do with mail, such as how to properly address envelopes (all caps, no punctuation, proper street addresses), and the importance of using 9-digit ZIP Codes for more efficient delivery of mail (easily found at www.usps.gov). We know the value of conference calling features on our office phones and how to use them to save time and money. We understand how to save money with the different private mail and package carriers. We have usually learned these things through our networking and through ads, handouts, and vendors at our meetings.
How very helpful we can be to our bosses who travel. Through our own travel to meetings and seminars, we know our way around airports, the value of ticketless travel, different methods of ground transportation, how to read an OAG, and how to determine hotel amenities. We also include helpful "extras" with the travel itinerary, and we are a great help to our employers' spouses and other family members
Since we have ethics seminars at all meetings, as well as ethics articles in all publications, our membership makes us especially valuable to our employers, because we can help keep trouble away from the door. We know what to do if a client asks for his file. We know how to handle a call from someone seeking legal advice. We know the importance of and make sure our attorneys fulfill their CLE requirements.
Besides these specific areas of Resources, Office Procedures, Travel, and Ethics, our knowledge of fellow members in other states helps our employers who may need information from those states. Our employer may need to check a court file, or may need a process server, court reporter, or conference room in another city. Our members know someone to call for such help in a hurry.
What all this supports is the premise that it is to the employer's benefit to have the secretary belong to Legal Secretaries International Inc. Those employers will want to pay the dues for their secretaries, and an added bonus for the employer is that ours are very low.
Every lawyer I have worked for during the years of my professional association memberships has paid my dues and has told others that he was proud to do so, because he benefited from it.
An even more special benefit than the ones mentioned in this article is: As we learn more about our profession and about legal procedures, we look for—and find—even more ways to help our employers!
||Carol Ann Wilson Story holds several certifications,
including Certified Legal Secretary Specialist in Civil Trial Law. A charter
member of Legal Secretaries International, she currently serves as Director
of Outside Program Development. Carol lives in Houston.