An interview with Amy Franklyn, winner of Legal PA of the Year

We are delighted that Prestige member, Amy Franklyn, EA at law firm Bird & Bird was the winner of this year’s Secs in the City Legal PA of the Year Award. Here she talks about what the award means both to her personally and to her company and about how she has set up an internal PA network. 

“It was bizarre really because I didn’t even know this award existed until I received an email saying I’d been nominated by two colleagues, one who had left the firm.  I thought it was a mistake at first, but then I was really pleased: it’s so gratifying and so unexpected and I really didn’t think I’d win.

I had to have an interview, with three people including Susanna from Tay Associates.  They told me there had been 525 nominations and they were interviewing about 50.  Five from each category were shortlisted.  My boss and I went to the awards dinner together which was held at The Ivy.  

In the interview, they asked about my career and whether I’d always been interested in law.  And they were quite interested in my activity outside work.  I’m a ballroom/Latin dancer although I don’t compete anymore because it involves too much travelling.  I also talked about the internal PA network that I’ve set up at Bird & Bird.

Getting the internal network up and running was the result of a mixture of my input and the support of the company.

The judges like to see that you stick at something, carry it through and are part of a group or network.  So the fact that Bird & Bird are the first law firm to accommodate a PA network interested them and that was actually mentioned at the awards ceremony.  It’s been tried in other firms but has never really happened and I feel that’s the main reason I won.  It was hard to get it off the ground, but Bird & Bird are flexible and open-minded, very supportive particularly around career development and very focused on the individual.  There was no question when my Prestige membership came up for renewal, for example.  I also manage a team of PAs and have worked with HR to rethink the PAs’ roles.  Getting the internal network up and running was the result of a mixture of my input and the support of the company, really.  And the company is now very pleased because they have a PA working for them who’s won this award.

The award is a good example of what it does for the firm in general

I belong to a forum, Heads of Secretarial Services (run by Debbie Ackland of Platinum Training) and I’m going to talk about both the award and the network, at our next meeting.  I’m going to tell them how important it is to get the fee-earners and bosses on side.  I’ll also talk about the importance of the core team, because if you can get the support of the other PAs, they can then take the idea to their boss.  I can use the award as a good example of what it does for the firm in general.”

The Secs in the City PA Awards are sponsored by Tay Associates, City-based industry experts in PA, admin and support staff recruitment.  Chief Executive, Susanna Tait explains what made Amy a winner:

“Amy stood out as a fantastic ambassador for the assistant role.  As well as being ambitious, driven and passionate in her work, she is the first assistant to set up an official, firm-supported internal network for support staff in a law firm; an achievement that is pioneering in this industry”.

Amy Franklyn is leading our Discussion Forum on How to Create an Internal PA Network on Tuesday 11th December, at Amba Hotel Marble Arch.  Doors open at 6 o’clock.  Please contact Tara, for more details or if you’d like to attend.