Rita Leat, CEO of The Institute of Paralegals and Tim Kidd, Chief Executive of ILFM

Covid-19 : What does the survival of your practice have to do with being a member of a professional body?

Tim Kidd, Chief Executive of ILFM and Rita Leat, Chief Executive of the IoP ‘got together’ (by distance!) recently to discuss how their professional bodies could help their members to ensure that their practices, businesses and careers not only survive the disruption caused by the coronavirus but can actually improve their offering to their clients. We have put together a few ideas of why we believe professional bodies help with the survival of the fittest.

As professionals, we often focus on matters that are within our direct control such as attracting new clients, retaining business, negotiating agreements, managing finances, etc. However, our businesses or the businesses that we work for are not islands on their own and business owners often turn to professional bodies to influence outside variables.

As legal professionals,  without a professional body to support you, your practice is subject to manipulations by government, the insurance industry, media, other legal service providers and exploiters who are not  submitting themselves to the checks and rules of an organised and  resourceful professional body.

We often hear the question “Why should I join a professional body”, our short answer is simply leverage and resources. As the two leading professional bodies for Paralegals and Legal Finance Professionals, we are service providers. These professional bodies perform many tasks, such as advocacy, public relations and professional guidance and do this more effectively than individual professionals could otherwise carry out. Boards of professional associations need to rapidly and frequently assess the needs of their members, plan ahead while responding to existing trends and advocate to protect existing privileges while remaining open to new opportunities and responding to new threats.

So, what services will assist you in maintaining your status and ultimately being part of the survival of the fittest?

Information - We ensure that you receive accurate and prompt information about the issues you need to know about. Such information means you can make better decisions that may affect your role. By having an email database of members, we can easily send you copies of reports as soon as they become news and can provide links to further information, saving you time to get on with your business.

Advice and Support - As a member of a professional body, you have access to a wide range of advice and support services including technical and ethics support services and more.

Advocacy - We ensure that your professional interests are brought effectively to the attention of government and relevant regulators, other legal professionals, the insurance industry, the  media and any other organisations we consider important who we  encounter day-to-day. Resources are an issue here and professional bodies can only lobby to the extent of its membership income. For this reason alone, we ask that you continue to help us fight for your profession.

Public relations - We market to the general public, businesses and other key stakeholders on a regular and consistent basis regarding the scope and benefits of utilising our profession’s services, and to counter any negative press that may harm our professions. A professional body has the means to organise effective campaigns to offer helpful and more accurate images and descriptions of the profession, as well as systematically downplay and eventually eliminate the negative ones. We are here to raise your profile, often as the linchpin of your firms.

Expansion of opportunities - By being a member, we build credibility for the profession and can open doors for new opportunities by collaborating with other professional bodies and businesses.A second way to expand opportunities for members is to create data banks on useful information.

Community - by being part of a professional body, you’re part of a growing community. A community of like-minded professionals. A community that helps, shares, celebrates success and grows in an atmosphere of learning, giving and togetherness. Togetherness and community have never been more relevant. 

Professional Development - We organise events with experts so that you can hear at first hand, developments that continue to increase your business and raise your profile. But Professional development isn’t just about training and education or attending events - it’s about stepping up and leaving your excellent performances behind. Reconfiguring yourself so you can move with the demands of the time. It means leaving your comfort zone to navigate a newer, better way of doing things. It means learning from past and present experiences such as COVID-19, gathering more tools, sharpening your minds, developing your talents, adding more skills, meeting new people, expanding your level of influence, and many more. It seems easy but nothing can be more difficult than doing what appears to be easy.

You should aim to:

  • Keep in touch with your professional body and in turn with your professional community.  Connect, share and help those who are in the same boat as you.  
  • Take advantage of possibly some more available time continue your education.
  • Network by attending virtual local, regional, national meetings, conferences and workshops provided by your professional body and other organisations.
  • Keeping up to date with technology, systems and processes and of course regulation and compliance.
  • Take on new challenges, projects, long or short-term assignments.

As we come out of this global pandemic we need to be ready, to hit the ground running and to fully informed and up to date. We will quickly rebuild back to where we were before March 2020, and even improve on that position in short order.    

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