KEY CONCERNS OF A PARALEGAL MANAGER IN LITIGATION FIRM
A Paralegal is one who assists lawyers in creating legal documents including various agreements and reports. Litigation paralegals gather and arrange evidence used in court cases, deal with clients,and talk with key witnesses. In addition, litigation paralegals also perform research, managelegal files and assist lawyers in preparing witness and clients before trial.
Paralegals are generally specialized in personal injury, intellectual property, family and immigration matters. They are highly proficient in online research and in usingthe database management softwares for updating and maintaining client files. Besides, they are also adept in performing administrative tasks.
The key role of a litigation paralegal manager is supervision of these paralegals and legal assistants. A paralegal manager performs more or less the same type of job like other managers in the industry, in addition to being legally specialized. Their task and management skills are linked to their areas of specialization.
The work however, is not simple, and there exists a myriad of issues when moving from a paralegal position to a management position. Issues pop up while representing the staff as also representing management of the firm both at the same time.There also lies this age-old monopoly of lawyers, thus, making the paralegal managers face the following challenges in diligently performing their role and responsibilities:
a) Lack of Management Skills of Young Lawyers
A lack of proper initial training of the paralegals to create a positive relationship with the attorneys, results in miscommunication and stress. This is usually the case with most firms, as no one wants to invest in training new associates in order to build a strong foundation.
Such a practice lies defeated if every attorney from the beginning of his/her career is made to practice managing relationships with staff.
b) Ineffective Performance Management
The painsof a paralegal manager can be eliminated if firms develop an effective performance management system to assess non-performers and retain those who perform well.This requires strategizing competencies relevant to a particular job role and then assessing or analyzing the effectiveness, efficiency and productivity of the individual performance. Regular audits can be done in this regard, wherein individual development areas can be marked and those failing to reach that area may be allowed to leave.
c) Poor Delegation and Time Management
Next is the issue of missing out on the off days for a reason that the lawyer might have committed to a delivery of an urgent matter, and it gets so very essential to meet that drop deadline. The cause might be several, but nothing to help the manager – can be the possibility of the lawyer losing out on a very important client, or may be his/her incapacity to understand timely delegation and management of work. This results into a situation of reluctant working and the staff is even hesitant to raise such issue, given the work culture of law firms of prioritizing those working the most. Prioritizing type of work is also a concern, and should be done so effectively. If not, all of the work tends to become urgent, thus creating pressure all the time, further putting an end to the spirit of those with the caliber.
In order to be able to overcome these challenges, identification of the problem area becomes important. This can be done by identifying the appropriate time and the possible cause of its emergence. Thereafter, work can be allotted and deadlines can be set for completion.
The key concerns discussed above prove that a paralegal manager has a very crucial role to play in any litigation firm, as they perform most of the time consuming work, thus letting the legal practitioners concentrate on core areas of work.