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. File under the Sociology of Hoosier Discipline ... “We will be answering the complaint in due course and defending against the commission’s allegations,” said Indianapolis attorney Don Lundberg, who’s representing Hudson in her disciplinary case. FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW ... Lundberg ran the statist attorney disciplinary machinery in Indy for decades, and is now the "go to guy" for those who can afford him .... the ultimate insider for the well-to-do and/or connected who find themselves in the crosshairs. It would appear that this former prosecutor knows how the game is played in Circle City ... and is sacrificing accordingly. See more on that here ... http://www.theindianalawyer.com/supreme-court-reprimands-attorney-for-falsifying-hours-worked/PARAMS/article/43757 Legal sociologists could have a field day here ... I wonder why such things are never studied? Is a sacrifice to the well connected former regulators a de facto bribe? Such questions, if probed, could bring about a more just world, a more equal playing field, less Stalinist governance. All of the things that our preambles tell us to value could be advanced if only sunshine reached into such dark worlds. As a great jurist once wrote: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman." Other People's Money—and How Bankers Use It (1914). Ah, but I am certifiable, according to the Indiana authorities, according to the ISC it can be read, for believing such trite things and for advancing such unwanted thoughts. As a great albeit fictional and broken resistance leaders once wrote: "I am the dead." Winston Smith Let us all be dead to the idea of maintaining a patently unjust legal order.

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  5. As one of the many consumers affected by this breach, I found my bank data had been lifted and used to buy over $200 of various merchandise in New York. I did a pretty good job of tracing the purchases to stores around a college campus just from the info on my bank statement. Hm. Mr. Hill, I would like my $200 back! It doesn't belong to the state, in my opinion. Give it back to the consumers affected. I had to freeze my credit and take out data protection, order a new debit card and wait until it arrived. I deserve something for my trouble!

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