Who keeps law firms running? Lawyers have a tough job, but the staff they work with also do quite a bit to keep things moving along in tip-top shape.
Whether you’re a paralegal, legal assistant, or receptionist (or whether you play another role at your law firm), we’re positive that the firms you work at would have a much more difficult time operating without you.
Below, we’ve highlighted just a few of the things that legal staff do to keep law firms humming along:
1. They keep law firms organized
Lawyers must keep up with multiple clients, cases, invoices, appointments, and deadlines. If something important gets missed, it can lead to an upset client at best and a malpractice claim at worst, so organization is key.
Staying organized is necessary, but time consuming. According to the Legal Trends Report, solo lawyers who need to take care of this administrative work themselves have a utilization rate that is less than half that of their counterparts working in mid-sized firms of 12 lawyers. In other words, based on the same work day, they log less than half the amount of billable hours. There are a number of factors at play here, but we’re betting that the need to take care of one’s own administrative work is one of them.
In short, the work that legal staff do to keep law firms organized is essential for keeping law firms compliant and running smoothly—whether they use a variety of tools, or one centralized practice management software.
2. They do more than just their job
It’s not uncommon for legal assistants, receptionists, and paralegals to go above and beyond what you might expect in their daily job. As this post from FindLaw points out, receptionists may also function as an office manager and/or paralegal, depending on your law firm’s size and structure.
Beyond typing up and proofreading documents and managing files, some legal assistants also take care of payroll, office supply purchases, and other tasks. A legal assistant with other areas of expertise might just be worth their weight in gold.
3. They stay late
Lawyers aren’t the only legal professionals who work overtime. In many situations, if a lawyer needs to stay late, their paralegals and/or legal assistants will be right there with them.
For example, if a litigator has an important trial deadline coming up, their legal staff is often beside them, making last minute adjustments to documents or ensuring that all details of a filing are up to snuff.
4. They act as a sounding board
While paralegals and legal assistants are not lawyers, they do have legal knowledge, and their opinions can be quite valuable to the lawyers they work with. As this post describing a day in the life of a legal assistant explains:
“Most attorneys want paralegals who aren’t just “yes men” or “yes women.” They want assistants who are confident and knowledgeable enough to speak up and second-guess them when necessary, and who can offer their own informed opinions on a range of topics, legal-related and otherwise.”
Good legal support staff can be invaluable for law firms. They let lawyers focus less on the day-to-day aspects of running a firm and more on doing legal work and finding more clients, making law firms more productive and profitable overall. If you have a paralegal, legal assistant, or receptionist who fits this description, make sure you thank them!