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Any Professional Support Lawyers out there?

(5 Posts)
GorgonsGin Fri 24-Jul-09 09:40:11

I am 8PQE and was made redundant in June from my last firm when I was a fee earner, although I was heavily involved in training (esp trainee training) and new precedent development.

An opportunity has come up to cover a PSL role while the current PSL is on maternity leave. I have a friend who is a PSL and she has been helping me with my CV, but from what I understand/remember, the role varies widely, depending on the firm and number of PSL's employed. Some PSL's are treated very much as back office, others seem to be very involved in strategy.

Can any PSL's spare 5 minutes to outline your responsibilties/duties? Do you have responsibility for department libraries? How much IT work do you do? I assume that it will be broadly answering drop in queries, writing and circulating periodic updates to fee earners and clients, organising and presenting training and dealing with info-banks/precedents. Anything else?

I also want to know (because this is a temp position maternity cover and I have no interest in ousting the present PSL in a take-over coup!) how pro-active I should be in trying to introduce new initiatives, or whether I should simply slot in?

thanks for your thoughts

GorgonsGin Fri 24-Jul-09 09:41:46

p.s. there are a number of people ooking for the role too, so it will be competative.


blueshoes Mon 27-Jul-09 22:43:09

Hi GordonsGin, sorry about your redundancy. Hang in there.

I am not a PSL but in knowledge management, so it is part of my brief to set the strategy for PSL activity.

You are right that the role of PSL varies widely from firm to firm and in fact from department to department. It is very much for the PSL to define the business priorities with the management of that group and determine which activities to focus on.

Of those you listed, which are all key PSL activities, one you might also want to consider, particularly in today's climate, is business development and client relationship management eg supporting client pitches, co-ordinating client training programmes, or if the firm has online knowledge products for clients, contributing/updating content on those websites.

For a maternity cover position, I would have thought you should try to slot in and show how well you are suited to do the current role. In the interview, gauge how much appetite or interest there is in new initiatives before offering suggestions but the main focus should be on doing the current role well and hitting the ground running. I am sure you know to get the job spec and study it well.

For department libraries, magic circle firms (with big teams) will split this into broadly 2 areas, which are covered by different roles: 1. external books, journals etc, which is covered by a librarian/info management-type person; and 2. internally generated know-how eg past memos, advice, transaction bibles, which are looked after by the PSL.

As for IT, I would think the PSL would not do much more than learn how to profile and upload know-how onto a knowledge database. If it goes beyond that to actually helping to develop new systems, then that moves into knowledge management (KM) and generally only fairly big teams of PSLs can afford to spare the time for a PSL to work on KM projects.

Hope that helps.

fridayschild Sat 01-Aug-09 07:08:26

I'm a partner and do the recruting for my team. We looked for a temp PSL to cover maternity leave last year, and one of the attractions for us of someone from another firm was the opportunity to refresh the way we did things, and learn from other firm's best practice. I wouldn't rule out a few suggestions if you have good ideas.

LSEE Tue 04-Aug-09 13:44:01

I moved from fee earning to PSL last year and in my experience what the role involves depends hugely on the firm and area of specialism.

The areas you mention are generally "core" PSL tasks and I guess any PSL job will involve an element of all of them. When I was looking for jobs (when there actually were jobs last year!) I found that what the role involved often depended very much on the personal preferences (or lack of them) of the partners most closely involved on the PSL side so I'd suggest that you try to get a feel from the partners you speak to at interview for what their priorities are. I certainly do a lot of work on the client/strategy side, which I find a lot more interesting than the "traditional" PSL stuff, but that's something I was specifically recruited for and was discussed during my interview process.

I agree that for most practices a fresh pair of eyes is generally considered to be a good thing, particularly as with PSL work it is easy to get a bit out of touch. Obviously you need to try and slot in and not be seen as trying to upstage the incumbent but if you can make some helpful suggestions I'm sure they would be welcomed - one thing to remember though is that PSL work by its nature moves at a slower pace than fee-earning (one of the things I find most frustrating!) so beware of suggesting long-term projects that you won't be around to finish/may need wider buy-in for (it can be hard to get this until you've been in the job a while as you just don't get to know people as quickly).

On the IT side, I'd say the more IT proficient you are the better but it does depend on the firm. Some firms (especially bigger ones) knowledge management is very IT based these days (we record all our training and make it available online which is something the PSLs organise) so not having much IT nous could make life more difficult. However I don't think it's thought of (yet) as a core skill so if you only have the basics you should be fine - you can always make friends with someone in IT once you get there!

In terms of books and stuff that's all handled centrally by our library staff so all I do is order stuff I like the look of. Might be different in a smaller firm though.

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