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How Law Firms And In-House Departments View Paralegals

published January 10, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left
( 162 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
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As a paralegal, you may believe that it is not necessary for you to know how a law firm operates, what the various levels of responsibilities are for the attorneys, or what the functions are of each of the diverse departments that can be found in a large firm. You may want only to be able to come to work, do your job, and go home. Not so! It is very important for you to have an understanding of the mechanics of how your firm operates, how certain management decisions are made, and why. There are several reasons for this:
How Law Firms And In-House Departments View Paralegals
  • It is important for you to establish yourself in the firm “culture.” For coworkers to accept you and for management to consider you for promotions, you must learn what the various power structures are.
  • If you have a problem with workload or with a coworker, you must know the proper channels where you can air your grievances. Few things make supervisors more angry than if you ignore the chain of command and go over someone’s head.
  • When you need help with a project, it is useful to know what the resources are in the firm. Must you go to an associate attorney for help with a research project, or is the librarian available to assist you? When you have columns and columns of numbers to add up for a tax return, must you do it yourself, or is there someone in the bookkeeping department who is fast with an adding machine? Why burden your secretary with a large typing job when the word-processing department can get it out faster?
  • Perhaps you would like to make a change in an established firm policy, such as to create an annual retreat for paralegals, where none now exists. To whom would you go with such a request? The office manager? The senior partner? Is there a paralegal committee made up of some of the firm’s attorneys? If so, who are they?

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Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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