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Legal Departments in Governmental Agencies

Legal Departments in Governmental Agencies

Over the last half century or more, the overall size and scope of the government, on both the state and federal level, has grown dramatically.criminal activity, development of major corporations and financial institutions, fluctuations in the banking and real estates markets, and an increased reliance on international relations with the emergence of the United Nations, to name some of the more major ones.


The emergence of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Environmental Protection Agency would represent two examples of new emerging agencies, many of which has state equivalents. 


As a result of this, most of these agencies began to compile legal departments composed of federal attorneys that would ensure that full legalities were to be maintained, and investigate where infractions have been committed.  Since these agencies run on taxpayer money, they are expected to keep costs to within limits, which means that they, like the rest of the legal industry, began to place much of their legal work in the hands of paralegals.


Paralegals in government agencies could in many differing scales of capacity.  Therefore, working as a representative in a “field office” would likely mean a paralegal would be required to perform an assortment of more generalized tasks.


In almost every case, a paralegal working in a government agency will be expected to, in some capacity, to be have a background in the field their agency oversees, or inevitably develop a familiarity with it.  This ultimately means that the legal work of these paralegals will likely become extremely specialized by the standards of the entire paralegal industry.


Despite a reputation for not always being the most lucrative form of legal practice, many employers will favor previous government experience generally over private experience, as government work still carries an aura to it that may be valuable to a paralegal who is considering the long term values to even limited government experience.

The Role of the Legal Department of a Business

The Role of the Legal Department of a Business

 

Most businesses today that are large enough to be considered a corporation will generally have a standing legal department to manage and perform many of the day to day legal needs associated with running a business.civil litigation that came to affect many different organizations and the resulting increase in legal costs, and 

The rise in civil litigation was a major factor, however, especially as corporations grew in significant size and had trouble overseeing their considerable assets, thus causing more individual problems that parties were forced to seek legal restitution for (admittedly, the size and liquidity of these corporations made them seductive targets for predatory litigation, as well).  

It was this rise in costs that led to the need for paralegals, who could perform legal tasks for far less than a lawyer, thus limiting the billing costs on the behalf of these firms. Many businesses, however, did one better, taking many legal concerns in house and creating legal departments, staffed by lower paid paralegals overseen by a selection of business lawyer who took care of the business’s legal work.

The growth in legal departments was chiefly economic, and part of this was based in large part on the rise in legal needs driven by the changing state of employee relations in American corporate culture.  In addition to this, federal oversight of many individual corporate activities, products, and means of production became far more diligent, with new federal agencies emerging all the time and older ones growing in size and power (the Environmental Protection Agency would be such an example).  An increased reliance on contracts for employees and for most business transactions also emerged during this time.

All of these assorted legal activities were delegated by these businesses to their legal departments.  Paralegals working for a legal department can usually be expected to do large amounts of document writing, and usually in specialized ways.  Therefore, paralegals who in legal departments can usually expect very specialized, repetitive work, and could also be expected to work in high volume environment with many other personnel.

It should be noted that legal departments vary based on the size of a business, and that a legal department for a smaller company can still subsist on one or two attorneys and a few paralegals.

What More Does a Law Librarian?

What More Does a Law Librarian?

A law librarian is a legal professional who may work in a law school, legal library, court, or law firm. In a small, community legal library, a librarian may have many of the same tasks that a traditional librarian would have, such as organizing reference material, acquiring new reference material, and aiding researchers in using reference tools. A legal librarian working in a government library will be responsible for aiding attorneys, judges, and also the general public. 

A legal librarian would help prosecution or defense attorneys in finding resources to build their case, as well as research legal precedent pertinent to their case. A judge may need assistance in finding materials which will help him decide on a ruling. Since common law is heavily based on precedent, there is a variety of information on past rulings that will aid a judge in issuing a fair ruling. 

Members of the general public may conduct research in a legal library when attempting to find information about drafting a will or filing a claim. A legal librarian would direct them to the correct place to find the information they are seeking. Some legal librarians are employed in private law firms where they are responsible for maintaining the reference material belonging to the firm. They will organize and update reference material as well as aid attorneys in research.

Librarians must have a master’s degree in library science (MLS), and law librarians typically have a law degree in addition to this. A Juris Doctorate (JD) is usually not necessary to become a law librarian, however, many hiring institutions do require a JD, and it is generally held that a law librarian without this degree would not be adequately able to do his job. Instead of receiving a JD, some legal librarians may receive legal training from the institution that hires them. Whether or not a law librarian has a JD may also depend on the position this person holds within the library. 

The director of a legal library within an academic institution (a law school) must have a JD, while other less demanding positions may not require one. For librarians employed in a county or state legal library, qualifications normally vary by jurisdiction, and when working for a law firm, it generally depends on the preferences of hiring attorneys. However, it is normally beneficial for a legal library to obtain a JD, or at least to have a legal background with a vast knowledge of legal terminology.

Guide to Limited Liability Partnership

Guide to Limited Liability Partnership

Limited liability partnerships (LLPs) are still relatively uncommon in the United States, as they are still only recognized in 40 states and portions of Canada. But the overall number of these organizations are growing, especially in the legal profession, due to the decline and crisis experienced by many traditional partnership law practices in the early 1990s.
Basically, they are as their name describes, in that allow the incorporation of a company or firm among many partners, where the partners are able to protect themselves from being held liable for the losses incurred by one of their business partners.  While LLPs can be implemented in many different forms of corporate venture, they began to emerge in the legal profession after many traditional partnership firms began to falter due to years of poor planning and business decisions.
Most of the poor business decisions on the behalf of traditional partnerships were represented in their relative zeal in promoting numerous undeserving candidates to the level of partner based mainly on organizational tenure and less on individual merit.  led to many legal firms, which already were predicated on poor foresight to become overburden by legal partners who themselves were loyal to the flawed system that had benefited them, and were thus less likely to implement major changes.
As legal costs continued to escalate industry wide, many organizations tried to offset these rising costs by delegating many of their usual chores to paralegals, who could perform some of the same tasks for far less money.  These firms could not match the decreased costs of service, and a number of them downsized considerably in order to cover their losses and match the decreasing legal costs in the industry.
It was with this in mind that many LLPs came into being in the early to middle 1990s, as individual lawyers, who recognized the benefits of combining resources with other lawyer in the same vein of traditional partnerships, also did not want to be held liable if their partners in the venture made decisions that could jeopardize the firm. In LLPs, the partners are usually protected from the financial failures of their partners; as a result of this, the partners in these firms can often behave somewhat autonomously of other partners in the same firm.
As such,   This occasionally presents office environments which different sections may not always be able to become involved in the legal cases of other areas of the same firm, because they fall under the overview of another partner.
In most other respects, working for an LLP should be no different for a paralegal than entering into any other legal firm, as LLPs are generally created to be run like a normal corporation, with shared leadership stake by each partner, who has a say in how the company is run. 
However, given the steady emergence of LLPs in both the legal profession and throughout the American business community, LLP incorporation and its legalities is one of the more common courses taught today

Do Law Firms Have Managers & Administrators?

Do Law Firms Have Managers & Administrators?

As a law firm grows in size, the amount of management tasks
required to keep it running may increase dramatically. This often prompts
attorneys to hire legal managers and administrators to handle these tasks. A
legal administrator is generally responsible for handling all the business
aspects of a law firm. The duties of this position include supervising and
training other employees, managing the accounting department, delegating
responsibilities to employees, handling the marketing aspects of the firm, and
may also be expected to handle the hiring and firing of staff. The
qualifications of a legal administrator may vary depending on the size of a law
firm or the level of experience of the individual. In general, a legal
administrator is not required to have any sort of legal degree. Some smaller
offices may permit a legal secretary or paralegal



Understanding Sole Proprietorship

Understanding Sole Proprietorship

Sole proprietorship law firms are still fairly common in the United States, though there are not among the highest pay legal positions, usually because the attorney employed by the firm is also typically the owner.  
While sole proprietorship is possible for larger firms, in most cases, those firms, even if they are sole proprietorship for a while, they will almost inevitably have to incorporate additional partnerships in order to manage the work load and responsibilities of a larger firm.If a sole proprietorship firm does grow to a large size and intends to remain as a sole proprietorship, then it would be faced with the problem of having to either compensate or turn over associates in lieu of offering a partnership.
For a paralegal working in a sole proprietorship environment, they will often assume a larger variety of responsibilities, depending on the specialty of the firm.   Usually specialized sole proprietorship’s commonly focus on criminal law or categories of criminal law, like automotive accidents and assorted liability. 
Typical sole proprietorship offices will often have few paralegals working on staff, and sometimes only one or two.  In a very basic sense, a paralegal will generally have to focus specifically on whatever work requires attention at the time, meaning that paralegals in a smaller environment can assume something of a “jack of all trades” role. 
Also depending on the size of the office, a paralegal in this kind of situation will usually have to assume a greater amount of actual administrative work.  Usually in situations where a receptionist or administrative assistant is employed, then a paralegal can be charged with overseeing the administrative functions of the office while the lawyer focuses on issues of client interaction, strategy, and billing.
Sole proprietorship’s often are the most likely to employ part time paralegals, and can sometimes, during periods of increased work load, employ temporary freelance paralegals to handle the additional work. 

Traditional Partnership Explained

Traditional Partnership Explained

Traditional partnerships in the legal profession refer to firms that were originally formed on the basis of a combining the resources and talent of a number of legal offices into one larger firm.  These firms would then generally operate on the basis of the partners overseeing the direction and management of the firm, with a number of associates working under them.  This led many smaller firms, such as our proverbial Smith & Doe, growing from fairly humble stature to relatively large size.
In the 1980s and 1990s, traditional partnership firms began to experience serious problems, the result of very poor forward thinking and planning and economic trends within the legal industry.  As a result, the amount of partnerships at these firms could grow quite large, and many times were glutted with attorneys who weren’t necessarily good at their jobs, but were only good at surviving in their jobs. 
At a certain point, many of these firms had to restrict elevation to partnership of younger associates to where partnership would be based on merit and only partially on tenure with the firm.  Less money was coming in, yet with high guarantees often promised to senior partners, this led to many promising but expensive associates being laid off in order to save money.  Basically, these firms paid too much to attorneys for work that could have been done, far more cheaply, by paralegals, and thus could not offer services at prices low enough to compete with marketplace.
Traditional partnerships still exist, but many of them that have survived were reorganized so that they can better reflect the financial needs represented by the market.  And also, they have increased their dependency on paralegals to handle the work that used to be ascribed to legal associates, at a relative fraction of the cost.
Paralegals in traditional partnership firms tend to assume more tasks, depending on the size and nature of law practiced by the firm, and they tend to be more generalized in their specialties, often being forced to perform many different tasks for their firms, determined on the nature of work that the firm needs completed at the time.

The Truth About the Workplace for Paralegals

The Truth About the Workplace for Paralegals

Describing the workplace of a hypothetical paralegal will involve a great deal of generalization due to the heterogeneous nature of the paralegal profession.  Therefore, a paralegal who works in a corporate legal department may have duties that are entirely different from a paralegal that works a district attorney.

Often, the job description of one paralegal can vary so intrinsically from the job description of another paralegal that it would not be hard to believe that the two paralegals came from  That’s how varied the paralegal profession really is.

Nevertheless, there are constants to the workplace of nearly every paralegal that some broad generalizations can be formed.  the scope of an office, depending on the organization.

In nearly every jurisdiction, paralegals are required to be supervised by an attorney.  First, it prevents  As a deregulated profession, paralegals are generally given a great deal of latitude in the tasks they are allowed to perform, but a key is that they are not allowed to sign legal documents or dispense legal advice, leaving a key elements of oversight in the hands of their supervising attorneys. 

Usually, levels of urgency in a particular workplace can vary depending on the organization, but legal work as a rule tends to rely heavily on dates and deadlines, so the more precise a paralegal’s duties may be, the more likely there will be a sense of urgency and stress in an office and a tendency for paralegals to work long hours.  Most organizations that do require long hours generally pay overtime, which could be as high as time-and-a-half, and thus can give the paralegal ample opportunity to pad their paycheck with extra income, provided they are willing to put in the extra hours.

In general, the workplace for a paralegal can very dramatically, but it will nearly always be a demanding environment that places a great deal of responsibility on the paralegal in question. 


Look Into the Paralegal Workplace

Look Into the Paralegal Workplace

The nature of paralegal workplaces tend to vary tremendously between offices and organizations, and often depend entirely on the specific nature of the organization or the particular layout of an office or work environment.
Most paralegals do the majority of their work in an office environment, though there are exceptions, which In some instances, if a paralegal is charged with tasks more inclined to research or investigation, they might have to perform a majority of their tasks outside of an office.
Typically, the newer or less experienced a paralegal, the less overall responsibilities they will be charged with in an office environment. If and when they gain experience and prove themselves capable, they will typically be given more responsibilities. Typically, the larger an office, the more specified a paralegal’s duties may be, as there is likely a larger quantity of paralegals to handle specific tasks. It is in these workplaces that it can be more common that paralegals become more stratified, with hierarchies of command that involve certain paralegals overseeing others.
The smaller an organization or office, naturally, the more likely it will be that a paralegal’s duties will cover a broader spectrum of tasks.
Paralegals can vary in the duration and extent of their work. Most corporate environments and large scale firms, as well as public sector government agencies will be far more likely to have paralegals working for them full time on a full time basis. Many part time and some full time paralegals work as freelance paralegals, who are contracted to a particular firm as independent contractors for a specified duration of time.

A Full Overview of Legal Personnel

A Full Overview of Legal Personnel

There are many positions within the field of law that do not always require a law degree to perform. A law clerk is an assistant to a judge whose main responsibility is to research legal precedents to prepare a judge for court and write legal opinion. There are several different types of clerks such as, a court clerk, a judicial law clerk, or a clerk who may be employed in a law firm. Many law clerk work during law school, or just after graduation, to gain experience in the profession and network with attorneys they may collaborate with in the future.  

Private investigators (P.I.s) are hired by a variety of different people to perform investigatory work and uncover specific information. They may be hired by an attorney to investigate parties in divorce or child custody cases; a private citizen to investigate a missing person; an insurance company to determine whether a claimant has committed fraud; or a business owner to investigate the wrongdoing of an employee. 

A law librarian is a legal professional who may work in a law school, legal library, court, or law firm. A law librarian must have a master’s degree in library science (MLS) and, although it is not always required, many also have a law degree. Typically, law librarians who works in an academic institution or a government legal library must have both their MLS and juris doctorate (JD), however this is not generally the case in a public or community library.  

The clerical staff in a law firm provide basic support that keeps the office running. The clerical staff will generally be responsible for: answering the phone, greeting clients, word processing, managing the attorney’s calendars, setting dates for hearing and depositions, managing office supplies, etc. Depending on the size of the office and the amount of work brought in by the attorneys, a firm may have several different positions to perform these tasks, such as a legal administrator or an office manager. 

A legal administrator is an individual in charge of the business aspects of a law firm, such as marketing tasks, accounting, delegating responsibilities to employees, supervising and training, and acquiring new staff. An office manager performs tasks similar to an administrator such as stocking and organizing office supplies, recruiting new staff, assisting employees, etc.     

Office Procedures Manual

An office procedures manual outlines the general procedures and policies that govern the way in which the office is run. It is basically a formalization of all operations that take place within the office. It will detail the responsibilities of a certain position as well as provide an employee with pertinent information about how a task is performed. The manual should include details about compensation, vacation time, office hours, and benefits. An office procedures manual aids a business in staying consistent, training new employees, and avoiding confusion, as well as reducing the amount of error in the workplace. 

Areas of Specialization:

There are several different areas of specialization within the paralegal profession. Some include bankruptcy, corporate, criminal law, estate planning, immigration law, insurance, labor law, and real estate. Each area requires a special knowledge and the ability to perform tasks specific to each category of law. Although paralegals do not have a law degree and always require supervision from an overseeing attorney, they are able to perform much of the necessary tasks to assist lawyers.