Law firms hire a large variety of legal professionals. While experienced personnel may have a thorough understanding of firm intricacies, those professionals new to the industry might get a little confused as to the different employees within a given firm. Further, law firms are stressful enough. Anxiety levels shouldn’t grow because an office setting is difficult to figure out. Let’s clarify and calm by looking at the different professionals firms take in.
This one should come as no surprise. Yes, firms employee lawyers; but, not all lawyers are labeled the same. Depending on the size of a firm and its specialty, law firms may employee four distinct categories of attorneys. These include:
- Partners. These are generally the owners of a firm or the most experienced lawyers working at the firm. They are sometimes also referred to as “Members” or Shareholders.”
- Associates. This category refers to the non-partner attorneys that work for a firm on a full-time and salaried basis. They are often less experienced than partners and perform work under the guidance of a senior associate or a member.
- Contract Lawyers. These are outside attorneys that a firm hires as independent contractors. Contract lawyers are paid on an hourly basis and may work either full-time or part-time. They are often hired to complete special projects or to take on work when a firm is particularly busy.
- Of Counsels. These professionals are attorneys that have a working relationship with a firm, but they’re not partners, associates or contractors. The nature of the working relationship is typically described as close, personal, and continuous. Of counsels are almost always part-time practitioners.
Law Clerks and Paralegals
Law clerks are generally law students that a firm brings onboard to assist on a part-time basis. In return, clerks earn academic credit or an hourly fee. The exact type of work law clerks perform will vary with the size of a firm and its practice area. However, most clerks help firm personnel with: legal research, filing court documents, drafting legal documents, and advancing the preparation of cases.
Paralegals perform substantive legal work for firms usually on a full-time basis. While they’re not licensed attorneys, they do hold paralegal certificates or degrees. Paralegals provide critical assistance by researching laws and legal cases, drafting legal documents, helping with trial preparations, organizing case files, and completing administrative matters.
Legal Secretaries and Receptionists
Law firm secretaries are also referred to as legal assistants. These professionals are often assigned to one or two attorneys. A legal secretary takes care of a lawyer’s administrative and procedural requirements. Assistants help with an attorney’s day-to-day affairs so that the attorney can focus on his or her practice.
Legal receptionists are often the first person a client will see when visiting a firm. Receptionists are found at the main desk within a firm’s entrance. They answer phone calls, greet clients, take care of deliveries, and help with administrative matters.
All firms are not created equal. They also differ in terms of function and staff. Some firms may employ special personnel to take on internal operations – e.g., hiring and office managers, accountants, librarians, bookkeepers and human resource specialists. In addition, some firms may hire part-time or full-time professionals to perform specific law firm functions. One example is a technology expert that helps a firm with computers and the technological components of the firm.
LAW DAWGS has been helping legal professionals find amazing employment opportunities for almost 30 years. We are truly the platinum standard in legal and corporate staffing. No matter if you’re seeking a position as an attorney, paralegal, assistant, or any other position mentioned above, let us help. Do your career a favor and contact us now!