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A day in the life of a Freshfields Practice Group Manager

Jan 2019

Michelle Gager, Senior Consultant at Career Legal, catches up with Alison Edwards, a Practice Group Manager at Freshfields

How do you start your day?
My alarm goes off at about 05:30 and by 07:00 I’m on a train to Blackfriars.  Whilst on the train, I review emails and deal with anything time critical, including absences and cover arrangements.  I’m at my desk at about 07:50, having stopped off at the restaurant on ground floor to grab a large cup of tea and, if I’m feeling particularly naughty, a full English breakfast!

How did you get your job? 
I started my career as a secretary in a City personal injury law firm, supporting from within a typing pool.  I progressed through the ranks from secretary to PA, PA to EA, EA to Team Co-ordinator, Team Co-ordinator to Team Leader, and ultimately to the role I have now, always within the City’s legal sector.

What are you responsible for in your role?
I am directly responsible for approx. 32 assistants, as well as providing logistical support to the business.  I also have responsibility for driving forward various work-stream projects to ensure we are continually adapting to best meet the needs of our stakeholders.

Describe a typical day.
What’s that!?  One of the things I love about my job is that there is no such thing as a typical day.  I could be collaborating with my PGM team on logistical matters and project work, holding review/appraisal meetings, reviewing CVs and interviewing, allocating cover for sickness/holiday absences, arranging training, discussing support with stakeholders, or presenting to Trainees and newly qualified lawyers on how to get the most from their PA support …. it’s a really varied role, with lots of opportunities to add value.

 One of the things I love about my job is that there is no such thing as a typical day.

What training is offered to you to support your role?
Freshfields offers great training and development opportunities for all of its employees.  As a manager, I get to attend a loft of soft-skills training, both in-house and external, in relation to various management skills.  Freshfields also offers very good in-house technical training, as well as running a ‘drop-in’ IT Clinic three days a week which anybody can attend to seek clarification, training or advice on a number of topics.

What team/admin support is available?
I am one of seven Practice Group Managers here at Freshfields and we share a PA, who supports all of us individually and as a team.  We can also rely on our other business services teams such as our Document Specialist, IT and Reprographics teams, which are 24/7!

What’s the best thing about working at Freshfields?
Freshfields has a really inclusive vibe, is extremely team oriented, and everybody is encouraged and supported in their development.  We also have some really great in-house ‘perks’, including restaurant and coffee bar, gym, GP and Dentist! 

What do you find challenging about your job?
I find time management the most challenging element of my job: there will always be routine things to deal with and meetings in the diary, as well as project work, etc., but that can all be thrown up in the air in an instant as new time-critical issues and problems arise and need urgent attention/solving.  On the flip side, it is this variety that I love most about my job.

How do you relax after work?
My husband and I both work in an office environment and both enjoy walking, so we try to get out for a walk most evenings (always more enjoyable in the summer!).  Over and above that, a nice glass of red wine, some easy-listening music in the background, and reading a good book or interesting magazine always does the trick!

What is your Plan B? 
Other than the typical childhood aspirations of being a famous singer, dancer, actress or (perhaps not so typical!) lorry driver, I have to confess to having wanted to be a Legal Secretary in the City for most of my teens.  I have an older sister who went into the industry and I really looked up to her, seeing her go to work dressed so smartly, catching the train into the City: it all seemed very glamorous! 

Download a copy of this interview here 

Contact our Legal PA team to find out more about Legal PA or EA opportunities at Freshfields. 


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