Support staff spread thinner

December 10, 2008
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Let’s keep this blog’s discussion about law firm staff cuts going and talk about support staff cuts today. The National Law Journal has an article about paralegal, secretary, and other support staff cuts at firms. Firms are looking to cut costs wherever they can, whether it’s by slashing marketing departments (see previous blog posts), trimming support staff, or letting go of underperforming associates.

Having one paralegal per attorney may not be the best business decision for most firms, but spreading out a paralegal and support staff amongst four, or more, attorneys could backfire. The paralegals’ workloads will increase dramatically, leading to slowdowns until they can adjust (if they can adjust). More work means less time to devote to items, which could cause their work to suffer, which impacts the attorneys’ work.

It also will lead to attorneys having to pick up the slack in order to keep clients happy and most likely billing clients for the work. I guess that’s one way to bring more money into a firm.

I understand that businesses have to make money, that’s why they are a business and not a non-profit. However, does it make the most business sense to cut from non-legal departments and support staff than cutting attorneys?
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  • Having been quoted in the above article and having been in the legal field now for 20 years specializing in paralegals, I can tell you that the optimum number any firm ever hopes for is a 3::1 ratio - three attorneys to one paralegal. For years now, however, that ratio has run about 5::1.

    Let\'s just all hope for better times all around!

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  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

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