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. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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