Reflecting on a Remarkable Year: Celebrating Milestones and Looking Forward to 2024

As I sit down to pen my last blog post for 2023, I am filled with gratitude and excitement. This year has been nothing short of extraordinary, marked by significant achievements and milestones that reflect the dedication and hard work that went into building my business. Since the launch of my legal support venture in April, the journey has been a thrilling one, and the numbers tell a compelling story.

The Numbers Speak Volumes

£91,785: Net Value of Legal Aid Accounts
Meticulously prepared and submitted for solicitors, the net value of legal aid accounts stands at an impressive £91,785. This figure not only showcases the financial success of my business but also highlights the trust and confidence solicitors have placed in my services.

 

745 Hours: Dedicated Freelance Legal Secretary
Working tirelessly for two esteemed Scottish law firms, I've logged 745 hours of dedicated time. From lightning-fast typing to handling client calls, crafting monthly invoices, to expertly managing credit control – every minute has contributed to the seamless operation of legal processes.

 

43 Hours: Precise Proofreading for Expert Witnesses
Devoting 43 hours to the precise proofreading of reports for distinguished UK-based expert witnesses underscores my commitment to delivering top-notch, error-free work in the legal domain.

 

2,832 Minutes: Audio Transcription Excellence
With a keen focus on accuracy, I've transcribed 2,832 minutes of audio for both expert witnesses and solicitors. This equates to over 47 hours of meticulous work, ensuring that every detail is captured with precision.

Beyond Numbers: The Essence of My Work

While the numbers provide a quantitative snapshot of my achievements, they alone don't capture the essence of the work I do. Is it top-tier or merely adequate? I invite you to explore the testimonials on my website (brownowl.scot) – the voices of satisfied clients who have experienced the quality and excellence of my legal support services.

Collaborative Success: Welcoming Expertise on Board

I'm delighted to share that my business has expanded, and I'm now collaborating with three highly skilled legal secretaries, each with a background in Scottish law firms. Their invaluable expertise has significantly enhanced our capacity, ensuring a swift turnaround that consistently exceeds client expectations.

Looking Ahead to 2024

As I reflect on the achievements of 2023, I am eager and optimistic about what the future holds. With the completion of the first year of my business just around the corner in April 2024, I look forward to continued growth, new challenges, and the opportunity to serve even more legal professionals.

Ready to Elevate Your Legal Support?

If you're a solicitor, expert, or legal professional seeking unparalleled support, look no further. The collaborative success of my team and me is a testament to our commitment to elevating legal support to new heights. Get in touch, and let's make 2024 a year of continued success and growth together.

November 2023

Basking in the Winter Glow: A Scottish Legal Sector Update

As the Scottish winter sets in, casting its enchanting glow over the legal landscapes, I'm eager to share the uplifting connections and stories that have, this November, warmed my professional journey.

Shining Stars at the Local Hero Awards

This month, I had the pleasure of catching up with the fantastic Paul McRobb, now steering the ship at YourCashier as Head of Sales and Marketing. Our conversation, filled with laughter and shared memories, took me back to the days when he was a consultant at LawWare and I served as a legal secretary at Livingstone Brown. Discovering the common waters we've been swimming in was nothing short of thrilling, especially against the backdrop of Scotland's winter, where a dusting of snow has added an extra touch of magic. It opened up exciting possibilities for future collaboration.

Building Bridges: A Coffee Chat with Paul McRobb

An unforgettable highlight was attending the 103.1 Central FM Local Hero Awards, graciously hosted by the Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce at the stunning Dunblane Hydro. The night was a tapestry of inspiration woven with heartwarming tales of individuals who have left an indelible mark on their communities.


One story that tugged at my heartstrings was that of David Buckie, a true hero who fearlessly jumped into the canal to rescue a drowning woman. His act of selflessness showcased the deep well of compassion and courage within our communities. The Local Hero Awards served as a powerful reminder that small acts of kindness can ripple through society, creating a positive impact that resonates far and wide, even amidst the winter chill.
 

Celebrating Success with Clients

In the realm of client news, I'm thrilled to share that after reaching out to some expert witnesses, a positive response came my way for proofreading and formatting work on their reports. This exciting collaboration is set to kick off in the New Year, and I can't wait to dive into the project.


Equally heartening is the continued partnership with a long-term client who entrusted me with another batch of legal aid account work. Their loyalty and the fact that they actively seek more projects with me speaks volumes about the trust and appreciation for the quality of work I strive to deliver.


As the snow falls gently over Scotland, signalling the arrival of winter, I'm filled with gratitude for the connections made, the stories shared, and the continued support from clients and colleagues alike. Here's to a future filled with sunny collaborations and positive impacts within the vibrant tapestry of the Scottish legal sector! 🌟❄️☀️
 

Radiant Reviews: A Ray of Sunshine from Amanda Wilson Family Law

In the spirit of positivity, I was overjoyed to receive a glowing review from Amanda Wilson Family Law. You can find the heartfelt words on my Testimonials page, and I can't express enough gratitude for such uplifting feedback.

October 2023 Blog

Keeping on moving!

Bairns Business Club - I had the pleasure of being invited by Peter Archibald of Haldane Construction Services to attend hospitality at the Falkirk FC v Alloa Athletic FC game held at Falkirk Football Club. It was an incredible day filled with delicious food, and fantastic entertainment.

We were treated to a delightful feast and entertained by the engaging speaker, Eric Davidson. The atmosphere was electric, and the company of Peter and his team made the night even more enjoyable.

Falkirk FC put up a stellar performance, scoring three goals in the first half and securing the win.

I am grateful to Peter for the opportunity to witness such an exciting game. Thank you for a memorable day!

Edinburgh Legal Walk - riding the high of the inaugural Falkirk Legal Walk in September, I ambled along to the well attended Edinburgh Legal Walk in October. What delight I felt to come across some well kent faces in the form of former Shoosmiths colleagues!

We were led by Lord Tyre, who I particularly enjoyed conversing with about the west coast of Scotland, its beauty, its roads and its ferry system.

I enjoyed a sweet slice of 10th anniversary cake at Parliament House post walk, where we were addressed by Neil Mackenzie KC, Keeper of the Advocates Library, Diane McGiffen, CEO of the Society, and Aster Crawshaw, senior partner of Addleshaw Goddard, the event sponsor.

Business wins - I've had several high calibre applications to work with Brown Owl Legal Support, about which I am over the moon.  I am so pleased to be taking those forward and expanding my wee business so as to bring sterling secretarial support to lawyers across the land.

 

 

Sep 2023: six months in

Where I'm networking

I am absolutely thrilled to be a member of the prestigious Forth Association of Business. Being part of this exclusive network has brought a wave of positivity into my life. It's all about supporting each other and creating opportunities for collaboration. The results have been outstanding! 

 

Already, I've made some key moves, like transferring my pension to Casey Crooks at True Potential. This decision has given me peace of mind for my financial future. GasGlow has also come to my rescue by providing top-notch boiler cover, ensuring my home stays cosy year-round. And let's not forget the game-changing services of ComTech IT, who took my work computing system to the next level, enhancing my productivity and efficiency.

 

Furthermore, I was truly touched by the incredible support I received from my fellow association members when organizing the inaugural Falkirk Legal Walk. A massive shoutout to Tom Docherty Solicitors, FBS Bathrooms & Plumbing Solutions, and Renton Decorating Services for their generous contributions. The unity and camaraderie within our network are nothing short of inspiring.

Where I'm relaxing

In the midst of a hectic month, my fiancé surprised me with a spa voucher, and I found myself floating away in the serene haven of Hilton Westerwood Spa. The tranquillity and relaxation were just what I needed after a month filled with early mornings, late nights, and stellar work from my amazing clients. It's essential to make time for yourself, and this experience was a rejuvenating reminder of that.

What I'm reading

I've got an exciting book recommendation for you! I've just started diving into "A Judicial Monstering: Child Sex Abuse Cover Up and Corruption in Scotland" by John Halley. I can't wait to share my review with you next month. It's all about staying informed and broadening our horizons, isn't it?.

Client news

I've recently embarked on an exciting collaboration with a civil and criminal lawyer, supporting him with legal aid accounts and administrative tasks. Together, we're delivering exceptional service to his clients, and I couldn't be happier.

 

Plus, there's a promising inquiry from a new firm in the west of Scotland, and I'm eager to explore how we can collaborate and support their endeavours. 

 

And if you're a legal secretary looking for flexibility and the chance to work on your own schedule, don't hesitate to get in touch. Let's talk about how we can make it work for you.

Falkirk Legal Walk

I want to express my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you who supported our Falkirk Legal Walk. A huge round of applause to Haldane Construction for generously sponsoring our event. They made it even more special by treating our participants to a memorable afternoon tea at the historic Callendar House. 

 

Our combined efforts resulted in 18 enthusiastic attendees and over £800 raised for The Access to Justice Foundation, and I'm truly touched by the positive feedback we received about our walk leader, Geoff Bailey of the Falkirk Local History Society

 

We're already gearing up for the Falkirk Legal Walk 2024, scheduled for Sunday 22 September 2024. Geoff Bailey has kindly agreed to lead us once again, with a new route that promises fresh discoveries. The funds we raise during this event will continue to support local initiatives right here in Falkirk.

 

And here's an invitation: if you're a Fabulous Falkirk Firm and want to be a sponsor for the 2024 event, or if you have any questions, please reach out to me directly. Together, we can make the Falkirk Legal Walk 2024 another resounding success!

 

 

AUG 2023

Looking to the future

You'll have read in my previous blogs that I am keen, via my business, to make a "wee difference" in my community, through charitable donations, volunteering and fundraising.  

September brings the inaugural Falkirk Legal Walk, fundraising for The Access to Justice Foundation.  Community minded company, Haldane Construction Services are sponsoring the event, giving not only their support and publicity, but generously providing a scrumptious afternoon tea for all attendees.  

The connection between Brown Owl Legal Support and Haldane Construction Services was made possible by Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, and proves that businesses coming together can bear fruit for the most vulnerable in society - in this instance providing Falkirk folk with free legal advice and representation.

Looking to the future, I am thinking about what wee differences Brown Owl will make in October, November and December.  I'd love to hear from local folk and companies who might like to collaborate to do so.

July 2023: making a bigger difference

Last month, I decided to make a wee difference by having my Twitter followers vote for their favourite charity. I then donated 5% of my month’s revenue to that charity.  As a wee business, I believe I can make a wee difference.  Being a sole trader, there is no tax benefit for me in making charity donations, and it’s simply to try and help good causes.

This month, I am delighted to be organising the inaugural Falkirk Legal Walk – a fundraising effort for The Access to Justice Foundation.  This will take place on Sunday 24 September at 12pm, setting off from Falkirk Steeple.  More details at:  THE ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOUNDATION: 2023 Falkirk Legal Walk (enthuse.com)
 

Client news - Brown Owl Legal Support is working at full capacity after taking on a legal firm based in the north east of Scotland.  They are employing my legal secretary service.  I see more small firms and sole practitioners seeing the benefits of taking on outsourced services instead of the long-term and onerous commitment of an employee.  As the service provider, I take such enjoyment working for different law firms – different areas of law, different clients, different challenges every day.  

Four months into running my own business, I feel rejuvenated, excited and fresh.  On top of my years of experience, that is the kind of secretary a lawyer wants speaking to their existing and prospective clients – someone with the energy and knowledge to assist them in a friendly and professional way.

Fresh photos – many thanks to Ross Nixon Photography for my professional headshots – now being used across my website, social media and promotional materials.  I feel so much better now that I don’t have to rifle through old selfies for a half decent picture!  I felt relaxed and had fun getting these pictures taken.  We met at the Beancross Hotel and you’ll see the brick and wood backgrounds work really well!

Contact Ross Nixon Photography @ Ross Nxon (@ross_nixon_photography) • Instagram photos and videos

 

Where I’m relaxing – beside a well-trimmed lawn!  My partner was playing in the gents’ singles of the National Bowls Championships at Ayr.  We both took time off to travel down.  The matches were an exciting watch, though our hearts both sank when he (just) lost out playing the quarter final.  My partner is a champion bowler and I’ve no doubt he will qualify again in the future – and win the entire event!

National Championships | Bowls Scotland 2023

Where I’m networking –   this month I met “Scotland’s Mr Networking”, Colin McKeand, twice!  We both attended the Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce, and met again at his 8BN Glasgow networking session.   

8bn Networking  

June 2023: making a wee difference

Out, about and in with a shout

Loake Glasgow Business Club - I was delighted to attend this free event run by Bryan Dow, head of business at The Brogue Trader, Glasgow. It was truly the most relaxed, enjoyable and fun event I have attended thus far. Everyone was laughing, connecting and enjoying themselves. 

I met Fiona Taylor of FMT Coaching who I’ll catch up with again in July.

Also Paul Kelly of pkg coaching. He asked me some questions which put me on the spot – in a good way. He got me thinking about my business – how I speak about it and myself to other people. He prompted me to visualise what I want to get out of it and work out how to do that. Looking forward to engaging with his coaching style and taking myself forward. 

Well done to Bryan Dow and team for a great event. You can see me in the photo next to their branded bicycle. 

Business Nexus International (BNI) - This month’s big networking event was BNI Nexus in Giffnock. It was a very busy event, yet as soon as I entered the room, a member noticed, smiled and approached to welcome me. 

Having travelled from the east to join them, I knew no one, and yet, during the sit-down part of the meeting, the members either side of me were supporting me – letting me know when I would be expected to stand up and speak, and letting me know what would be happening. It felt warm and reassuring. 

Whilst it’s too far for me to travel every week, I have found an online chapter for central belt businesses which I look forward to attending in July. 

Corporate responsibility

Wee businesses like mine can make a wee difference every month, and so this month I polled my Twitter followers, asking them to choose their favourite from a choice of three charities.

The charity receiving the most votes would receive 5% of my June revenue.  Read more about that on my Twitter, linked: here.

Thanks to all who took the time to vote, and to my wonderful clients, who settle my invoices in a flash and allowed me to quickly make the donation to Homeless Project Scotland.

Separately, an announcement will be made in July 2023 about a partnership I am forming with a Falkirk charity, whereby I will provide 1 hour of secretarial support each month free of charge.  This service will be provided directly to their service users who might otherwise struggle with composing letters and advocating for themselves.  Watch this space!

Client wins

This month saw further new business enquiries and clients coming aboard, including:

  • a chartered psychologist based in Glasgow sending reports for typing by way of mini cassettes in the post;
  • an immigration legal firm in Glasgow issuing ad hoc audiotyping via digital dictation;
  • enquiry from a sole practitioner in the northeast of Scotland, looking for a few half days per week of legal secretary support.

I love seeing how Scottish legal firms are changing up their working model.  I worked as an in-house legal secretary for 11 years and loved it. Post-Covid though, I see that it is no longer crucial for many (especially small) law firms to have a secretary either:

  • as an employee
  • on a full or part time basis
  • in the same office

Solicitors now are seeing the benefits of looking to a freelance, experienced secretary they can call on as and when they need support, and to work with a freelancer exclusively or alongside inhouse admin resource.

 

May 2023: ready, set, fire, go!

Clients

April was the month of setting up, spreading the word, and getting ready to go.  May has been the month of go!  

One Scottish law firm have booked my services for two days per week providing full legal secretarial service, whilst another entrusts me with the preparation of their legal aid accounts.

Regular dictation flows through from my expert witness clients. I love the variety of typing about psychology, neurosurgery and criminal prosecutions.

 

Networking - Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce

I also attended my first event with Forth Valley Chamber of Commerce. Their Friday Hub Club proved an invaluable avenue to connect with other local  business owners, to promote each other, but most importantly, to support each other.  I felt nervous going into the club, particularly after the formal section had finished and we were expected to mingle. I was pleasantly surprised to find other members actively approaching me to chat, and inviting me to join their groups.  

Networking - Women in Business

I was intrigued to attend the Global Scot/Women's Enterprise panel and hear from Sam Paton, the "Queen of Sass" and founder of Isolated Heroes clothing brand.  Their vision is to be the number one plus size brand in the US.  I loved learning that their loyal following refer to themselves as the "Sequin Squad".

 

Attendees also heard from the vibrant Jacine Rutasikwa of Matugga Rum.  Her ethos of "Scottish Heart, African Soul" shone through.  The first (and I believe only at the moment) black female owned rum distillery in the UK.  How exciting!

What I'm Reading

This month I'm reading Catherine Gladwyn's "How to be a Virtual Assistant".  I worried at first that, by buying this, I was essentially admitting knowing nothing about it.  I had the wrong mindset. 

I know how to be a personal assistant.  Covid taught me how to work remotely.  What you will learn from this booklet is how to run your own business as a virtual assistant, and how to do it well including:

  • how to price your services, and how not to undersell yourself
  • everything you need to know about working with an associate in terms of contracts, insurance and money (who gets what proportion and why)
  • what software will help you save time and offer more value to your clients
  • how to preserve your reputation by saying no sometimes

 

What I'm Listening To

When doing non-transcription work, I love to listen to a podcast or YouTube video in the background.  I've particularly enjoyed Hey Legal's May Social, discussing juryless trials and (it's everywhere isn't it?) AI!

Learning - The WS Society

The most moving event I attended this month was The WS Society's screening of Samir Mehanovic's film "Through our Eyes".  It was certainly eye opening to see, filmed over four years, the situation on the ground in Syria.  Samir shed light on his own reality of living in and then fleeing Bosnia in the 1990s.

April 2023: new beginnings

After 11 years working for lawyers in-house, I've made the move to work for myself.

Running up that hill

The photo illustrates my canine companion, Ellie, and I "running up that hill" at Palacerigg Country Park.

 

Always working towards a new personal best in running, I am excited to bring my focus and skills to my own business.

 

Working for small and medium sized law firms, I am enjoying the freedom and flexibility that working for myself brings.

What I'm listening to

I am re-listening to Amy Porterfield discuss building your dream career. The idea of "unbossing myself" is something I am really enjoying.  

 

Unbossing yourself is the idea that you can lead yourself.  You have the ability to make decisions on your own, without asking anyone's opinion.

 

When you make mistakes, you can pick yourself up and put yourself back out there.  You begin to think like a business owner.

 

It gets you considering whether you trust yourself.  If you don't, why not?  Where did you learn that behaviour?

 

Get curious and begin to change your mindset.   Have a listen at Love Life with Matthew Hussey: 205: How To Lead Yourself And Build Your Dream Career (with Amy Porterfield) on Apple Podcasts

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