Improving your law firm’s efficiency is more important than ever, and a good place to streamline is with your support staff.
Nearly one-third of lawyers who participated in a recent employment survey said they planned to hire full-time legal professionals during the fourth quarter of 2012.
In 2010, Kansas City, Mo., solo practitioner Kevin L. Jamison fell headlong into the ultimate nightmare for a small law office.
Jamison fired his office manager of 10 years after she refused to turn over the password to her desk computer. He soon learned that his client trust accounts had been overdrawn. His long-trusted employee, he alleges, had been embezzling from him for years.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court held recently that a law firm could pay a paralegal a percentage of the gross proceeds from cases on which the paralegal worked. The Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation had argued that the compensation plan violated the prohibition on sharing legal fees with a non-lawyer. (In re Weigel, 817 N.W.2d 835 (Wis. 2012)).
The opinion represents the latest chapter in a long‑running debate about how lawyers can compensate their non-lawyer colleagues. This has been a contentious issue, and the decision in the Wisconsin case highlights the continuing controversy.
The old school model for staffing in a small law firm was often one secretary or legal assistant per lawyer, but it’s becoming increasingly incompatible with business reality. Lawyers USA columnist Jim Calloway explains why training staff to become experts with more focused assignments better reflects the needs of the contemporary workplace, and how to transition your firm to the new model.
Large law firms usually have a dedicated marketing staff, but many smaller firms don’t often have that luxury. Yet a law firm’s non-lawyer staff can be a great marketing asset, particularly in a solo or small firm practice.
With the economic climate still putting the brakes on monetary incentives, it can be difficult to keep up staff morale. However, money is not the only motivation for people to stay with your firm.
Good evaluation systems are well worth the time and effort put into their creation, implementation and monitoring. Whether your office’s employee evaluation methods need to be established or could stand to be updated or perhaps entirely overhauled, these tips are intended to help you get the ball rolling.
Rough times can sneak up on us with little or no warning, or they can descend upon us after plenty of telltale signs that we choose to ignore. Either way, every staff member, regardless of title, plays a key role when it comes to successfully surviving change.