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What Does a Managing Attorney Do?

Daphne Mallory
Daphne Mallory

A managing attorney, also called a managing partner, acts as the business manager for a law firm, company or legal organization. Their primary job is to act as a supervisor for the department, firm or organization. Other duties and responsibilities often include creating a budget, training attorneys or volunteers and preparing reports for directors or general partners. The operation of the legal division they oversee is often solely the responsibility of the managing attorney, which is why many jobs require individuals to demonstrate leadership experience. Having a business background is often an advantage as well. They also have to ensure their policies and procedures comply with local and national laws and regulations in order to avoid sanctions or disbarment.

Working for a non-profit organization that provides low cost or pro-bono legal services is one option for individuals seeking managing attorney jobs. These attorneys often report to directors of the programs, but they are also responsible for overseeing the delivery of legal services in the communities in which they serve. Part of the duties and responsibilities may also include coordinating and training volunteers to help provide information and legal representation to clients. Many non-profit legal organizations offer legal clinics, and it’s often the job of the managing attorney to define the scope of those clinics and to ensure that accurate legal counsel is given to participants. Acting as a supervisor, this attorney is often on-site to assist attorneys and volunteers by answering legal questions or questions about what the organization’s policies are in relation to legal matters.

A managing atttorney may act as business partner to a law firm, company or legal organization.
A managing atttorney may act as business partner to a law firm, company or legal organization.

Individuals who pursue careers in this field still have many opportunities to practice law. It’s often not the bulk of what they do on a daily basis, but they may have their own case load on which to work. As the managing attorney, an individual can decide which cases to represent and which cases to pass on to other attorneys in the department or organization. Many jobs require a minimum number of years in practice to ensure that these attorneys are competent to handle their own cases as well as supervise inexperienced and experienced attorneys while they manage their own caseloads. Some attorneys work on litigation cases only, while others prefer transactional work and rarely have to appear in court.

Individuals who wish to work in a business setting can work for commercial entities as a managing attorney. For example, working for an insurance company consists of managing liability cases and trying some of those cases as well. Many other types of small businesses and corporations with legal departments hire attorneys to run the department and to take care of the legal work as well.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- That is precisely why a managing attorney should have a business background. At the very least, he or she be trained by an accountant or someone who knows what he or she is doing.

Dealing with taxes and most business aspects of a law firm isn't that tough. It takes a little training, but someone can pick up on those business aspects by practicing, practicing and practicing.


A managing attorney working for a smaller law firm has his work cut out for him. That is because that attorney is often the one that gets to deal with payroll, and that means paying payroll taxes which is a pain to deal with. And the government is not at all forgiving when it comes to missing payroll taxes. If that business minded attorney messes up when it comes to taxes, the firm is in a heap of trouble.

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    • A managing atttorney may act as business partner to a law firm, company or legal organization.
      By: Gina Sanders
      A managing atttorney may act as business partner to a law firm, company or legal organization.