In an interview with Randy Leitzke, law office manager for ten years, he describes the position of Law Office Manager as responsible in client relations, marketing, library services, human resources, conflict management, central records, finance and accounting, information technology, and facilities and office services. Leiztke point out that, the position of law office manager, is the non-lawyer position in any legal firm, yet acting as a problem solver for the firm (Interview with Law Office Manager 2002-2008).
In the paper published by Monster Career Advice regarding law office manager, it outlined the job of law office manager as follows: First, support law office functions by managing staff and maintaining legal reference resources, equipments, and office supplies. Second, make sure that the office meets the terms of legal requirements and work to lessen operational costs; and third, recognize potential client service requirements.
The paper cited that the skills needed by the law office manager involves effectiveness and competence in managing support staff, efficiency in handling client records and office supplies, and budget expenses. Law office managers should be at least bachelor’s degree graduate although the position does not require specific college course. In describing further the job of law office manager, Leiztky pointed out that, law office manager deals with a number of business owners who do not like being directed and the position requires a strong will as most of the clients are very intelligent and strong willed individuals.
The average salary of the Law Office manager according to an internet source is around $64,000, which is quite low compared to the salary of those in large business firms in the same position. However, is quite evident that strategic skills requirement is not strictly demanded than those in other large business firms. The Paralegal Profession On the other hand, Paralegal or in the narrower term, the legal assistant is the person with legal skills and works under the supervision of a lawyer. Thomas R. Van Dervort (2000) pointed out that, Paralegal is,
“law firm or government employees who do not have law degrees and are not licensed to practiced law but who perform many of the legal tasks that were once done only by lawyers” (p. 10). Paralegal is defined in the published article of the University of Las Vegas as any body who are working under supervision of an attorney, working on behalf of the client, creating legal documents, investigate legal and relevant facts, interview client and witnesses, conduct legal research and performs that is done by a lawyer.
Van Dervort cited that there is no general licensing procedure for paralegals, so all it takes to become a legal assistant is to work with a law firm or a government agency. However, he emphasized that in the paralegals are not allowed to provide legal services with out attorney supervision. They cannot sign any documents submitted to court or any documents that necessitates attorney’s signature. Van Dervort noted that today, larger firms, and government agencies employ a growing large number of these paralegals to perform tasks formerly done by lawyers.
These includes drafting legal documents and discovery instruments, doing legal research, investigation and title searches, preparing briefs, and closing real estate transaction (Van Dervort, p. 10). The development of paralegal institution started in the early 1970s after the American Bar Association not only recognized but to steps to encourage the creation and development of more sufficient training programs in this field by establishing an ABA endorsement procedure.
These initiatives paved the way for more development as textbooks began to be published for the training of paralegals prompting higher institutions to introduce educational programs for paralegals (Van Dervort, p. 11). Thus, in the early 1980s, there were about three hundred public and private educational programs specifically for paralegals. Van Dervort also noted that today, paralegals are hired for their management skills and usually involved in the recruitment, training, and management of the office paralegals.