Law Office Management Ch 1 & 2

mega-firm
a firm that employs more than 1,000 attorneys and have branch offices all over the world.
cybercrimes
crimes, committed on the internet, including hacking and fraud.
culture
The working environment of a law firm, consisting of intangible elements such as the social environment, employee relationships and attitudes.
legal administrator
experienced manager who is hired to manage a law firm and has the authority of a managing partner.
executive committee
a committee comprising the heads of the various committees in a law firm.
sole practitioner
an attorney who practices law alone. A sole practitioner does not employ other attorneys.
general practitioner
an attorney who does not specialize but accepts cases in all areas of law.
contract attorney
an attorney who works for law firms on an assignment basis or as an independent contractor.
freelance paralegal
contracts his or her services out to law offices and works under the supervision of an attorney.
independent paralegal
a person who does law related work for the general public without the supervision of an attorney.
rainmaker
they bring in the clients that provide the firm with work. an attorney responsible for client development for a firm.
ex. corporate attorney
senior member of the firm.
owner attorney
either a partner or sole proprietor. Owners of a partnership are not considered firm employees who are entitled to a salary. they are paid out of firm profits.
attorney
is the captain of the legal team.
staff attorney
an employee of a law firm who has no advancement opportunities.
of-counsel
an attorney affiliated with a firm on a part-time basis.
ex. retire attorney
associate
attorneys are employees of a firm and are not entitled to a percentage of the firm’s profits. They are paid a salary for their work. They may be eligible for partnership in a firm after employed for a certain length of time.
NALA
National Association of Legal Assistants
a legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education, training or work experience who is employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
NFPA
National Federation of Paralegal Associates
CLA/CP Exam
Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal
Law clerk
is a law student usually in the second or third year of law school who works for a law firm on a part-time basis.
duties: performing legal research, writing memorandums of law and preparing case briefs.
Legal secretary
responsible for all clerical task, some paralegal work and some management duties, indexing documents and scheduling depositions.
Receptionist
is responsible for answering the telephone and greeting clients.
Client’s first contact with a law firm.
Law librarian
manages the most valuable tool in a law office: information. Information resource managers or information systems directors. Assist attorneys and paralegals in their research projects.
Way in which the size of a law firm is determined
is calculated by the total number of attorneys employed by the firm including all branches.
small firm – 3 to 4 attorneys
med firm – depends on the area – entrepreneurial clients
large firm – local, regional, national and international firms – are formal and highly structured.
mega-firm – 1,000 or more all over the world.
Specialization by attorneys
Laws have become more complex. It has become increasingly difficult for attorneys to keep abreast of the many changes. This has forced attorneys to specialize in a particular area of law. Specializing help attorneys determine the firm’s clientele and its need for staff, equipment and materials. They earn more money then non-specialists.
Specialization by paralegals
Paralegals specialize in the same areas as attorneys. They have learned their specialties on the job by working for a specialist.
Understand the organization of the different management styles of firms.
autocratic, democratic, managing partner, committee and combination
1. autocratic – one person makes all the decisions for the firm. Found in small offices with one employing attorney. In small offices with more than one attorney the autocrat is the attorney who formed the law firm. In larger offices, an autocrat makes all the decisions and an office manager implements them.
2.democratic – two types of governance; those in which all attorneys in the firm have a vote on management policy and those in which only owners of the law firm have a vote in management policy. Actual management duties are accomplished through democratic management.
3. managing partner – one of the owners of a firm is designated the managing partner and is responsible for managing the firm. The person delegates duties to paralegal, secretary office manager to carry out the decisions.
4. committee -members rotate from committee to committee to participate in the various areas of management. Management committee generally consist of 5 to 7 members and may comprise of senior partners on a mixture of senior and junior partners, office managers and paralegals.
5. combination – is one that uses two or more management styles at the same time such as managing partner and committee or democratic and committee.
Know and understand the 7 business structures of firms
sole proprietorships, partnerships, professional corporations, limited liability company, boutique firm, office-sharing associations, legal clinic
sole proprietorships
means a law firm is owned by one attorney, small office, do not specialize in a particular are of law. Common law practiced – family law, real estate, torts and personal injury, criminal defense and probate and estate planning.
partnerships
is a law firm form by 2 or more attorneys, work cooperatively on cases that are taken in by the firm and the partners share in the profits. Each partner is liable for the decisions and conduct of the other partners including partners that commits fraud or engages in unethical conduct, the other partners may also be liable.
professional corporation
a law firm or an individual lawyer who wishes to incorporate. All attorneys including the shareholders are employees of the corporation and receive a salary for their work. Shareholders receive dividends according to the profitability of the corporation and the number of shares they own.
limited liability company
is owned by its members.
boutique firms
a law firm that offers services in one area of law only. Attorneys specialize in only one or possibly two areas of law. example – gov’t contracts, domestic law, taxes patent law, estate planning, workmen’s comp etc.
office sharing associations
suite concept – attorney leases out an entire floor of an office building and builds individual offices in various sizes. Lawyers rent office space, copier etc. billed monthly.
firm concept – rents a vacant office in an established firm. Attorney may arrange to do work for the law firm in lieu of paying rent. Attorney has access to secretary etc.
legal clinics
for the purpose of providing low-income people with free or low cost legal services. They are established to provide equal access to justice for the poor who cannot afford a traditional attorney.
Benefits of using a contract attorney
-an opportunity to try out potential hires
-less administrative work
-ability for small firms to accept bigger cases without hiring additional personnel
-staff attorneys relieved from mundane work
-positions covered by attorneys who are out on sick leave/vacation
-reduced employee costs such as benefits and employee training
-sole practitioners able to supplement their practice
Understand the concept of a Corporate Legal Department
Legal and business issues have increased companies legal demands. To meet these demands companies hire their own attorneys to meet their legal needs. Corporations create their own law firms and hire their own attorneys and support staff to work exclusively on the corporations matters. They are centralized located in corporate headquarters.
-outside counsel a private law firm retained to do legal work for a corporation
-in-house counsel an attorney who is an employee of a corporation and works in the corporations legal dept.
-general counsel an attorney in charge of a corporate legal dept.often an officer of the corporation.
Names places other than a law firm in which a paralegal may work
-insurance underwriter
-recruiting coordinator
-rehabilitation counselor
-corporate personnel director
-consultant
-commercial arbitrator
-legal software trainer
-sales representative
-litigation consultant
-real estate broker
-civil rights analyst
-employee benefits manager
-writer
-teacher
-stockbroker
History of the legal/paralegal field
In 1989, State legislatures, attorney organizations and the U.S. Supreme Court set forth the definition of a paralegal. The various national, state, and local paralegal associations developed their own definitions of a paralegal. NALA – National Association of Legal Assistants defines a legal assistant or paralegal is a person qualified by education etc to performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible.
In 2002 NFPA – National Federation of Paralegal Associations amended its definition to exclude the term LEGAL ASSISTANTS from its definition – a paralegal is a person qualified through education training work experience legal work that requires knowledge of legal concepts and is customarily but not exclusively performed by lawyers.
– 3 common elements
-paralegals have received specialized training through formal educations or experience
-paralegals work under the supervision of an attorney
-paralegals perform substantive work in assisting an attorney
Understand the differences and similarities between a legal administrator and a law office manager
legal adm – responsible for making major decisions for the law firm.
office man – is under the direction of a legal adm or managing partner and does not have the authority of the legal adm.

differences
-an administrator attends all partnership or committee meetings, although the administrator has no right to vote on issues
-an administrator has the authority to hire and discharge staff personnel and administer salaries within approved guidelines.
-an administrator has the authority to make major purchases of furniture and equipment and to make financial decisions for a firm.

similarities

Know the duties of a Paralegal manager
is a senior paralegal with many years experience. Responsible for supervising paralegals and may also do paralegal work.
Distinguish duties between paralegals in large firms and paralegals in small firms
small firms – duties in addition to paralegal work, such as office management and clerical work. The attorney supervises the paralegal. Paralegal have fewer opportunities to advance.
large firms – duties are narrow and structured. Paralegals specialize and focus his or her concentration on a few duties and areas of expertise. Paralegal may have many supervisors, paralegal manager, legal administrator, supervising attorney and managing partner. Larger firms create paralegal programs that have levels, or tiers according to education, experience and seniority.’
Know miscellaneous job titles for “other personnel” in the law firm
-Law Librarian-manages information
-Calendar Clerk – keeps track of all court hearings dep, & imp dates
-Paralegal Assistant- finding files, doc, photocopy, general file main
-Legislative Analyst-tracks leg that affects clients
-Investigator-examine cases & interview witnesses
-Messenger-courier or runner errands for firm
-Process Server-serve documents
-Case Coordinator-managing case-staffing, timetables, supervise
-Clerk-clerical & adm assignments
-File Clerk-responsible maintaining firm’s filing
Know types of companies a law firm may outsource work to
-Attorney service
-Paralegal service
-Employment agency
-Bonding company
-Records Search Company
-Consultants
3 Categories of marketplace for attorney practice law
– private law
– private industry
– government agencies
The structure and organization of a law office are determined by 4 characteristics
-size – small, med, large, mega firms
-specialty – specialize in particular areas of law
-management style – autocratic, democratic, managing partner, committee and combination
-form management – centralized is managed by one source. decentralized is managed by segments.
7 Types Private Law Firms
1. Sole Proprietorship – owned 1 attorney
2. Partnership – 2 or more attorney
3. Professional corporations – incorporated same profession
4. Limited Liability corp. – shields of liability of owners
5. Boutique firms – 1 or 2 specialties , gov’t taxes
6. Office sharing associate – suite concept attorney lease office pay rent and firm concept – rents office in establish firm to get hired
7. Legal clinics – low income with free or low cost legal service