National Secretary's Day 2022 – Celebrating Your Unsung Law Firm Superstars

To acknowledge and celebrate our unsung legal admin superstars, we asked our clients to tell us how their remarkable paralegal or secretary goes the extra mile for their practice, for their chance to spoil them with a luxury hamper valued at $250. And the winners are...

Did you know today is National Secretary’s Day (Friday 6 May)?

Those who work in administration positions play a vital role in keeping law firms coordinated and thriving. They are often the key factor in creating a highly efficient and effective firm and the magic ingredient for a happy and supportive working environment.

To acknowledge and celebrate our unsung law firm superstars, we asked our clients to tell us how their remarkable paralegal or secretary goes the extra mile for their practice, for their chance to spoil them with a luxury hamper.

We were absolutely blown away with the number of incredible submissions we received this year, from the hilarious to the heartfelt - we enjoyed reading each and every one!

The Smokeball team would like to thank everyone that took part in our second National Secretary's Day Celebration and helped to make it another huge success..

Read on to view our grand-prize winner and ten deserving runners up.

And the winner is...

Congratulations to our extraordinary 2022 National Secretary's Day grand-prize winner, Leanne Hexter of Taylor Splatt & Partners, who will receive a luxury hamper valued at $250. We hope you enjoy your prize Leanne - you deserve it!

Leanne Hexter - Taylor Splatt & Partners

"Leanne is a dedicated employee who goes above and beyond to support our clients and the firm. She remained in the office (alone) during the COVID lockdowns and in doing so coordinated a range of client and lawyer activities, including manning the phones, receiving/dispatching files and responding to client contacts. Leanne also provided continuity and training for new staff during the change of ownership of the firm and facilitated the transition of practice management software over to Smokeball. Leanne is always keen to learn and innovate, and for that reason, she is the Smokeball champion within our firm, training and mentoring new staff. She is committed to providing outstanding customer experience and is a wonderful example of the client-centred ethos we espouse as a firm and team. She completes all of the above whilst being a single mother with an adult child who has suffered a disability since birth and continues to live with Leanne. Without Leanne and her ongoing dedicated service that extends beyond 14 years with the firm, her wise counsel, dedication, loyalty and technical expertise, the firm would not be poised for ongoing success through our structured transformational change program. Leanne is a testament to the phrase 'going the extra mile'."

And the 10 runners up...

We were inundated with so many incredible nominations; we were unable to highlight just one. Here are our ten runners up, who will each receive a $50 prize pack.

Brodie Hart - Women’s Legal Centre ACT

"Brodie efficiently and capably manages the Intake Team for our Centre. The intake team is the first point of contact for women who are seeking support and often are escaping domestic and family violence. The stories the Intake team hear day after day are harrowing. Brodie approaches this difficult task in a trauma-informed manner. She is calm, caring and appropriately directs the women to the best options of legal advice available to them. Brodie's ability to define the issues and extract clear instructions from our clients ensures the legal team can provide timely legal advice accurately and efficiently. Brodie also manages the Intake team with careful attention and ensures their welfare is always foremost. The Intake Team is the engine room of our Centre. Without them, our valuable service for vulnerable women would grind to a halt. Brodie goes the extra mile and provides "the fuel" that ensures this engine runs smoothly and efficiently. In addition to her relentless attention to the care of our clients and her staff, Brodie is studying law full-time, which is remarkable given the rigours of her role at our Centre. Brodie grew up in a small country town and is the first person in her family to attend University. Our Centre is immensely proud of what Brodie has achieved and what her life experience has brought to our Centre. We are greatly enriched by having Brodie as a member of our team."  

Melanie Bullard - Bona Fide Lawyers

"When I first started working at my firm, I was introduced to Mel by one of the partners as the person who is never allowed to leave us because if she does the practice will well and truly implode! I wasn’t sure exactly how far to read into that level of praise, having cut my teeth at a corporate firm where people exchanged platitudes in the hallways and sneers behind closed doors, but I quickly learned just how indispensable this seemingly shy, unassuming British lady with crazy awesome nail polish is to all of us. Mel is way more than a legal secretary, and I mean that quite literally. It wasn’t until I’d been at the firm for a few months that I learned that in addition to providing administrative support for the lawyers, she single-handedly operates the debt collection practice and for years has been the backbone of conveyancing and wills and estates matters. On top of all that, Mel handles staff leave and payroll and banking and invoicing and office management and has the absolute nerve to make it all look easy!

A doting mother of two very lucky adult children, Mel perhaps cannot help but care for our little office family with the sort of maternal warmth I've rarely found in a colleague. Nothing is too hard for Mel or too inconvenient, even making house calls to witness Will signings for ill clients or rushing off to Woolies to stock up on that weird food item someone’s craving or operating an impromptu weekend doggie day-care for the office pets or spending hours listening to mind-numbing hold music just to confirm when the guy is finally going to come empty our shredding bins. Mel's empathy and considerate nature mean she's always at least a step or two ahead at anticipating our needs, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried literal tears of joy when I came back from a day away from the office to find my waist-high filing pile that I had resigned myself to sorting into the wee hours of the evening was completely gone.

Mel is the very definition of witty, with a clever, pointed sense of humour that means our informal office ad-lib or caption contests are over before they even start. Her positivity and energy kept us sane when we were all existing to each other as names on a Microsoft Teams chat and made coming back to the office after lockdown feel a whole lot like coming home. Mel could, without a doubt, be an absolute force to be reckoned with were she to suffer a lapse of sanity sufficient to lead her to become a lawyer, but fortunately for us, she has said time and time again that she finds deep satisfaction in what she does and couldn’t see herself doing anything else.

Mel is perhaps not the hero our firm deserves but is without a doubt the hero we need. In recognition of her brilliance, tirelessness, resilience, compassion, humour, and all-around superstardom, I can think of no one more fitting of celebration and our deepest gratitude on this day of all days. (Humble as she is, I also suspect Mel is going to be horrified that I’ve nominated her for this #sorrynotsorry!) Mel, you are truly a pillar of our firm as you've been for the past fourteen years and, to bring things full circle, you are never, ever allowed to leave us because if you do, the practice (and our hearts) will well and truly implode."

Prue Garvin - Clarity Lawyers

"Prue always goes above and beyond for our staff, our clients, and her family. Prue is most definitely the best assistant in the business, she is always one step ahead and is proactive in everything that she accomplishes. Prue puts in 100% all the time (even working from home with two sick children!). Nothing is too big or too small for her, and you can rely on her not to let you forget anything. Prue has made every member of our team feel completely supported, which has been crucial given remote working has become the norm. After over ten years working in the legal industry, she deserves to be recognised for her hard work and excellence in the field. I am incredibly proud and grateful to have her as part of our team and as a friend. We would be absolutely lost without her."

Astra Reichman-Floyd - Integrated Family Law

"Astra is a warm soul who offers empathy to all our clients (we are a family law firm, and many clients are dealing with a difficult time). She has positive energy and always goes the extra mile to make sure that the team runs smoothly.  This wonderful human being literally does everything. She does not need to be asked the majority of the time. She also goes out of her way every single day to do small little things to brighten everyone's day, whether it is bringing you your favourite coffee and leaving a little chocolate on your desk. She is just genuinely a beautiful person."  

Kerry Holmes - D'Arcy Sloman Peacock Lawyers

"Kerry is more than just my secretary; she is my personal assistant, conveyancer, trust account person, diary keeper, office manager and more. Without her, my practice simply could not function. Kerry recently had a week’s annual leave, I was on my own, and by Friday night, I did not have enough energy to stay up and watch the football. And she manages to do what she does in only three days a week - truly amazing! She's An example of why we need to keep older people in the workforce and recognise the great value they contribute."  

Louise Mcmullen - Toltz Lawyers

"Louise makes a gigantic contribution to our office with her positivity, work ethic, efficiency, and optimism, making all our work much easier. Her dedication, assistance, and can-do attitude is inspiring to all, and an excellent example to our new law graduates. Louise knows what is required before asking her. Never grumpy, always knowledgeable, and ready to go the extra mile without complaint. Recognition required!"  

Tracey Mclean - Ballarat Lawyers

"Tracey knows everything - she knows exactly where the file is when I cannot find it. In fact, Tracey knows I will be looking for the file before I am.  She manages me, as well as most of the firm's family law cases. She makes sure everything is on time and done correctly. I would be lost without Tracey. Over the last four months, Tracey has also been covering two roles whilst we look for a suitable replacement for a paralegal. She is a superstar and the perfect legal secretary." 

Anita Sodhi - Vitality Law Australia

"Anita has just returned to the workforce after time off to have her family. Anita and I first worked together eight years ago, and when Anita made the decision to return to the workforce, I was honoured that my new firm was the first she thought of.  Anita goes the extra mile for my firm by continually improving our systems and processes, somehow managing to be a mind reader for me, and putting in extra hours (often after hours) to ensure the work is done and so the matters can progress smoothly.  Anita is not afraid of hard work.  She also does not complain about doing the more "boring" tasks as she can see the benefit to the business.  Whilst not an owner of the firm, Anita treats the business as her own and is an absolute life-changing team member to have on board."

Lily Johnston -Bluekey Lawyers

"Lily is constantly going above and beyond for all her clients and regularly offers assistance to others even when she is already at capacity. Taking quoting calls on the weekend and staying back for an hour to walk one nervous client through the Settlement Adjustment are just brief examples. Honestly I do not know where we would be without her!"  

Bridie Elder - Grit Legal

"I love having Bridie as a member of our team! Bridie currently works remotely, and it is amazing how much she has learnt over the last five months through training with Smokeball and our regular zoom catchups. Bridie always goes the extra mile to ensure work gets completed, even if it means popping online on a day she is not working to ensure the completion of a task. Working remotely Bridie cannot see or hear if I am at my desk, so she will contact me via text or phone if I do not respond to an email. She recognises that I am managing children and a law firm, so she is very accommodating and is very understanding when our regular meetings get pushed back or rescheduled."

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