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A paralegal manager is a trained paralegal, or legal assistant, who supervises the paralegal staff in a law firm. The manager is responsible not only for distributing cases to the paralegals on the staff but also for assuring the completion of all work in a timely fashion. Many paralegals not only supervise but also are working paralegals involved in the preparation of legal documents such as appeals, wills, contracts and trial briefs. Another aspect of management duties includes providing training and research support to the paralegals on the staff by keeping them abreast of current judicial decisions, legal statutes and other changes in the legal system.
The paralegal supervisor is in charge of workflow and caseload management within the department, hiring additional staff and carrying out all evaluations for productivity and performance reviews for the paralegal staff. A paralegal supervisor should possess the skills and knowledge to be a mentor, leader and problem-solver within the organization. The paralegal supervisor must have excellent communication skills, because he or she must work closely with staff members, attorneys and clients.
Law firms have different hiring criteria for paralegal managers than for paralegals, and these requirements might include having a bachelor's degree, associate’s degree or a paralegal certificate. A paralegal might be able to advance to a paralegal management position within the law firm by exhibiting outstanding organizational skills, the ability to communicate effectively, multitasking abilities and superior attention to detail. Senior paralegals often do not want the additional responsibilities of managing staff nor the increased administrative duties that must be performed by a paralegal manager. This leaves the opportunity for a junior paralegal looking for a new challenge to move into a management position.
Paralegals are hired by law firms to lower costs of services to clients and to lower administrative costs within the firm thereby increasing revenue. By hiring a paralegal manager, attorneys are able to produce more billable hours as they are not busy overseeing staff and performing non-billable tasks. A paralegal manager becomes a valuable asset to the law firm by managing the day-to-day activities of workflow, handling possible co-worker conflicts, reviewing billable hours and verifying researched data for documents to be filed in the court.
The role of a paralegal manager is defined by the needs of the law firm. The type of specialized practice performed by the attorneys and the number of paralegals on the staff also will determine the role of the paralegal supervisor. A paralegal manager is not only a liaison between the paralegal staff and the senior management team but is a valuable asset to the law firm.