Debenhams Ottaway - Legal assistant/paralegal

  • Location: St Albans
  • Reports to: Team leader

Department: Property

Company overview

Debenhams Ottaway is a modern, client focused law firm based in St Albans and Radlett working with businesses of the future and thriving families and individuals in Hertfordshire and London.

Debenhams Ottaway believes passionately in building the best teams with the energy and imagination to provide the highest quality legal advice.

Overview

This is an exciting opportunity for a legal assistant to join our property team and provide a fully effective service to clients of Debenhams Ottaway. This will involve progressing client files under the direction of the team leader, and to provide legal and administrative assistance to the solicitors in the property team.

Key responsibilities

Activities will be varied and will include, but are not limited to the following

Client service:

  • progressing the matter file under the solicitor’s instructions. This may include amongst other things legal research, and drafting emails, contracts and other documents
  • to provide a courteous and efficient service to clients
  • to ensure that work sent to clients and related parties is correctly prepared in accordance with the firm’s standards and precedents and the solicitor’s instruction
  • to observe the code of practice in all areas as detailed in the Solicitors Code of Conduct and to observe fully the requirements of the Solicitors Accounts Rules
  • to report complaints and issues from clients or third parties to the team leader
  • to produce fees in accordance with the fee target set at the beginning of each financial year and to record a minimum of 720 hours of chargeable time per annum (at an average of 60 hours per month) at charging rates agreed by the team leader.

Matters administration:

  • when in control of an individual file, to ensure that standards of matter conduct, file management, administration, time-recording and accounting are maintained at all times
  • to be fully conversant with the firm’s computer systems and follow IT instructions directly and through procedure tabs
  • to work in a tidy, organised manner and ensure files are relocated in the cabinets provided
  • to assist the solicitor to bill matters promptly and accurately; to maintain a justifiable and accurate level of work-in-progress; to pay and collect disbursements in accordance with professional and internal practice
  • to properly account for all client monies and effect transfers from client to office account when appropriate.

Administrative:

  • answer the telephone or meet clients who call into the office with or without an appointment on behalf of the solicitor, answering queries and taking messages where appropriate and making appropriate file notes
  • assist solicitors with their property files, to include:
    • preparing contract, leases and licence documents
    • ordering documents from the HM Land Registry
    • ordering searches on lease/purchase matters
    • requesting funds from clients and their lenders
    • assisting in the completion of matters
    • completing Stamp Duty Land Tax Returns and Land Registry applications
    • scheduling of Deeds.
  • assist with marketing administration such as preparation of articles/mail shots /newsletters etc
  • liaison with clients as instructed
  • opening and closing client files in accordance with standard procedures
  • maintain solicitor’s diaries and make appointments
  • organise internal and external meetings including meeting room bookings and if appropriate organising refreshments
  • manage outgoing post and emails as required
  • maintaining client files to ensure they are up-to-date at all times
  • collate work received from the outsourcing company including arranging necessary enclosures so that it is ready to send out
  • liaison with the accounts department as appropriate to ensure timely and accurate accounts administration, including receiving cheques, entering on file and passing to accounts
  • input onto Peppermint PMS system the contact, client and matter details
  • undertake administrative duties such as photocopying
  • administration associated with the archiving of files
  • create and maintain a tidy and well organised office environment
  • ensure the faults with the department’s IT, printing, photocopying and fax machines are reported appropriately
  • work as part of a team, assisting with secretarial and telephone cover as required.
  • act on instructions from solicitors to perform tasks in connection with client/administrative matters.

Skills and attributes:

  • Knowledge, experience and passion for property law and practices.
  • Educated to degree level but not necessarily in law.
  • Experience of working within a property department of a law firm/local government/planning consultancy or relevant legal qualifications would be preferred.
  • Administrative experience in a law firm is desirable.
  • Adopts a client-centered focus at all times taking responsibility for the level of client service they provide and takes proactive steps to maximize and improve client relationships.
  • Creative problem-solving ability.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • Fast and accurate keyboard skills.
  • Good grasp of grammar and spelling.
  • Computer literacy in relevant software packages.
  • Ability to multi-task, organise, prioritise and plan.
  • Ability to work calmly under pressure and with a demanding work load.
  • Confident with the ability to interface and develop relationships with a variety of people.
  • Organisation skills including the ability to prioritise work.
  • Initiative.
  • Ability to follow instructions given.
  • Good time keeping.
  • Professional appearance.

To apply

Please send your CV and covering letter to recruitment@debenhamsottaway.co.uk