It is estimated that there are over 40 law firms (including sole practitioners) on island and 900 Lawyers. The legal industry remains one of the strongest in Cayman, and with ever growing financial regulation being implemented it seems likely that there will be continued growth. This can only be good news for a budding Legal Secretary looking to start their career.
I met with one of our recent placements to find out what the role of a Legal Secretary is like day-to-day so you can see if this might be the career for you.
Can you give me a brief description of what your role entails?
I work in a small office and support two Partners and an Associate. We focus on the corporate practice area and generally my day involves filing and drafting documents associated to these transactions, then make amendments to documents as stated by the Partners. I always need to track my changes and those that the Partners have requested. There’s other tasks as well such as I put together the monthly office report, look after billing and do a lot of CORIS filings. Also I assist with travel for meetings and I monitor their diaries for travel too.
What is your favourite element of your job?
The fact that I am exposed to so many different things on a daily basis. I see and assist with so many different transactions that my skill set is growing and developing further each day.
How do you like to start your day?
I always start my day with emails, I like to get through them and find out what needs to be done. With the time differences, there are tasks that come in before I start my day that need to be completed ASAP.
What helps to keep you motivated each day?
Knowing that what I am working on needs to be done and that I don’t really have time to stop what I am doing. I complete one task and move onto the next one. Keeping busy helps me to stay motivated!
What do you dislike about your current role?
We use a range of software and as technology updates we have some information on these updated systems but some is still stored on older databases. It can be frustrating at times.
Who do you communicate with most regularly both inside and outside your organisation?
As it is a small office I have communication with everyone – the two Partners, one Associate and one Office Assistant. Outside of the organisation, I deal with General Registry in CIMA and sometimes Corporate Administrators within other companies.
Since you first started, what do you think has been your biggest challenge?
Probably, the initial first few weeks of the role where I was learning processes and getting settled in. There was a lot of autonomy and self-learning – there was an instruction manual to follow as a guide for the role but I made my own notes as I went along and improved some elements of the manual. If I found a new way to do something, I would put it in this manual so that if anyone came after me, they would be able to follow which method works best for them.
What advice would you give someone who is seeking the same line of work?
Try to get a mixture of experience and get some exposure in both litigation and corporate law. It is probably easier to go from corporate to litigation rather than from litigation to corporate as it is quite different. I personally prefer corporate law.
How did your past experience and education prepare you for this role?
I did the CILEX paralegal training and that has helped to prepare me for the role. Starting as a temp I worked my way up to Senior Legal Secretary and now I have a range of experience from different legal firms such as preparation of documents for registration of companies/partnerships, registration of funds with CIMA, conducting court searches and preparation of legal documents and correspondence. A lot of the duties were quite similar. Having previous experience in the Cayman market is vital.
What is your proudest accomplishment through work?
In my first Legal Secretary role with a small firm, I implemented a new filing system which changed the whole set up. When I first joined the firm they did not have a proper filing system in place. I implemented a system whereby you could locate the file on a database, so you would actually know where the physical file was being stored i.e. which cabinet or shelf etc. This saved everyone a lot of time. It may have been a small thing, but it changed the entire process of the filing in the office. I hope it is still in place!
Where do you think this industry is headed next?
I don’t see it slowing down any time soon. With so many regulatory and compliance related laws coming in, people will always need legal assistance.
What is your company culture like?
It is really laid back as it is small and its nice as you get on with your own tasks and don’t feel like someone is watching over you. I really enjoy the relaxed culture.