Legal office administrators are typically responsible for providing support for both lawyers and clients in a law office. Professionals in this career are usually tasked with helping attorneys and paralegals with various tasks including; client communication, schedule management, and appointment and meeting coordination. What some people might not realize is just how essential legal administrators are to running a seamless law office.
Students pursuing careers in legal office administration will learn about some of the best practices for successfully running an organized and systematic law office. Read on if you’re interested in understanding how professional legal administrators develop standardized office procedures which enhance customer service and generate profit for law practices.
A Legal Office Administrator’s Guide to Docket Management
Individuals pursuing legal office administration training know that docket management refers to the process of tracking, recording and organizing deadlines for clients and client affairs. Legal professionals understand that in order for administrators to effectively manage a docket, they must have a general understanding of court rules, legal tasks, as well as knowledge of the schedules of everyone associated with the docket.
Legal office administrator college graduates recognize the importance of having a secure and reliable docket management system, since lawyers can actually lose client cases and be served with malpractice claims as a result of a forgotten due date or court hearing. Certified administrators typically use docket management computer programs and mobile applications to keep track of deadlines and other office procedures. Some of the most common programs used include Logikcull, HoudiniESQ and AbacusLaw.
How Legal Administrators Perform Efficient Billing
Everyone knows that for a business to thrive and turn a profit, it must have an effective billing management system, including law practices. Individuals enrolled in legal office administration courses know that billing management is a responsibility that today’s administrators generally handle.
Fortunately, there are tons of great billing programs that allow administrators and lawyers to easily track the time that is spent on each client’s file. Programs like PCLaw, for example, offer administrators access to great tools that can help them manage a wide range of financial tasks including expenses, client billing and collection, vendor payments and client accounts.
Managing New Clients as a Legal Office Administrator
It is crucial for a legal office administrator to develop a thorough system for managing new clients. This is mainly because lawyers should always have access to essential details about their clients before and while their law firm is representing them. This way, it is easier for the firm to check for client conflicts as well as manage documents. Administrators normally develop a standard process for which they collect information about clients and their specific cases—this information can be collected through an interview, or perhaps a questionnaire. And of course, professional legal office administrators recommend storing this data into client management software so that it is easily attainable when needed.
Legal history stretches far back in time, and the concept of “law” has existed almost as long as humans themselves. The earliest people to be described as lawyers were the orators of Ancient Athens, who essentially invented the concept of democracy. During the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, lawyers began operating firms which issued patents to secure rights to the many inventions being developed at the time. It was also around this time that Harvard University developed a standardized law education program. From the Industrial Revolution up until contemporary times, the infrastructure of legal businesses has continually evolved in fascinating ways – and so has the role of the legal office administrator.
The Law Firm
While legal offices were quite common during the Industrial Revolution, the world didn’t see the mega law firms of today until the early 20th century. In the stable period around the 1940s and 50s (just after World War Two), big business evolved as a way to handle increased manufacturing. Early legal office administration training would develop shortly afterwards, to help fill the secretarial needs of these huge firms. Today, some of the biggest law firms are found in places like Chicago, New York and London, each employing thousands of lawyers.
Law Office IT
As law firms grow, the technology they use must evolve as well. In the 1960s, it was standard to see lawyers and secretaries alike typing on a device like the IBM Selectric typewriter. It wasn’t until 1980, when IBM came out with the Displaywriter System, that a truly efficient document management device was finally available to legal professionals. Five years after the IBM Displaywriter, Microsoft launched Windows, followed by the Microsoft Office series—a package of computer tools which revolutionized data entry and storage. This new technology would affect not only legal office administration, but also medical office assistant training and other administrative career college programs.
Legal Office Assistants
As with dental assistant training, schooling for a legal administration position did not exist until the 19th century, when increasing technology expanded business. “Office assistant” became a recognized career during WW2, when women took over the office roles of men who had gone overseas. Instead of giving these jobs back after the war, women continued to thrive in administrative roles, and were seen as essential to growing businesses. Today, legal administrative assistants have the following duties:
Maintain client files
Type and format documents
Create PowerPoint presentations
Compared to the 1950s, when the duties were minimal and no training was needed, todays law office administrative staff are required to have knowledge of a variety of computer programs, such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint, and must be trained in specific practices like family law, corporate law and civil litigation.
What do you consider the most important responsibility of a legal office assistant today?
This past month, National Academy of Health and Business had the pleasure of celebrating its 35th anniversary as a Private Career College, becoming one of the oldest and most trusted career training schools in Ontario. “The secret to our success, and most importantly, the success of our students, is The National Academy Difference”, explains Mark Harrington, President of National Academy.
The National Academy Difference is simple. Once you become a National Academy student, you become part of the NAHB family. With a strict focus on high quality education and small class sizes, NAHB goes above and beyond to ensure that all students of the Academy feel welcome and appreciated.
The National Academy Difference
For 35 successful years, the college has consistently strived to provide:
High quality education, leading to a stable a rewarding career
Instructor-led training who all have real-world experience
Life time career service assistance for alumni
Unlimited upgrade training through the career of all graduates
Small class sizes under 20
Other free services such as: daycare assistance, accommodation assistance, health insurance, financial budgeting assistance, and much more
Understanding the importance of finances when it comes to education, National Academy stops at nothing to ensure that students are supported every step of the way. Many financial options are available including:
Pay as you learn interest free payment plans
Government assistance, to those who qualify
Second career funding options, to those who qualify
Traditional bank loans
Guaranteed financing to partner institutions
The National Academy Difference has always been felt amongst our faculty, administration and students, but even more so at this memorable time. As National Academy embarks on the next 35 years, we encourage you to visit our Facebook (www.facebook.com/nationalacademy) and YouTube accounts (www.youtube.com/nationalacademy) and see for yourself, the evidence and success of The National Academy Difference.
For more information, or to visit one of our three campuses in Mississauga, Hamilton or Toronto, please visit us www.nahb.ca or call 1.888.306.0991
Civil litigation is the term used for a legal battle between two parties who are usually seeking money damages as opposed to imprisonment or criminal sanctions. If you are taking a police foundations course to become a court officer, you will see your fair share of civil litigation cases. There are law firms which specialize specifically in civil litigation or civil law. Working as a legal assistant in a civil law firm, you will take on many duties assigned to you by either a lawyer or a paralegal, much of which will involve organizing case files and information.
Here are some of the many types of civil litigation:
Employment and labour
Intellectual property and copyright
Legal Office Assistant Duties in a Firm
The main duty of a legal office assistant (also called a litigation secretary) is to support the lawyers and paralegals in a firm. Their role is mostly in administration, performing duties like formatting briefs, pleadings and other legal documents, keeping track of attorney billings, filing legal documents (either in hard copy or electronically),corresponding with clients and transcribing documents. If you have the proper skills in legal office administration training, you may also be hired to help with certain legal duties such as minor research and writing. It is important to note that as a legal assistant you are not permitted to give legal advice.
Scheduling is a very important task for office assistants. In a litigation firm, they must manage the calendar and mark deadlines and important dates like hearings, settlement conferences, and pleading due dates. An office assistant must also be sure that there are no conflicts in an attorney’s schedule. There are also some post-trial duties which must be completed by the assistant, which include filing the post-trial motion alleging any errors in the trial. These documents must be filed under a set deadline and be distributed to all concerned parties. A notice of appeal must also be filed within 30 days of the trial, with a transcript of the trial included.
As stated before, the legal office assistant performs many secretarial duties. Although some tasks for an office assistant are similar to a paralegal, the two careers require a different skill set. Much of your work as a legal office assistant will be using word processing software to prepare briefs and other lengthy documents. For this reason, it is important to have adequate typing skills and a good knowledge of computers. Legal office assistant training will provide you with the necessary technical skills for this job, which include proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel and file management software. Some examples of widely used file management software include Legal Files, Abacus Law and Bleu Acre. Most importantly in secretarial positions, you must have an eye for detail, as spelling errors and improper documentation affects a firm’s reputation.