Do you need an office manager?

law firm administrationLots of law firm spend lots of time thinking about the administrative management of their law firm.  Lawyers oftentimes want to spend their time practicing law and in court.  They then want an office manager, director of operations or administration or somebody similar to run the administrative side of their law office.

This thought process makes sense on a lot of levels.  Why not having somebody run the administrative side of the law firm so that the lawyers can practice law?  Didn’t lawyers go to law school to practice law in the first place?

The reality is that every law firm is different in terms of the size, scope and area of law.  For this reason, law firms can realistically setup their law firm in different ways and still succeed.

However, generally speaking for many law firms, if you own or are running a law firm, the reality is that you cannot simply bow out of the administrative functions of your law firm.  There are many administrative tasks that still require the legal skill of a lawyer.  Take conflict checking, bookkeeping and marketing as a few examples.  Lawyers still ultimately have to oversee and be involved in the administrative functions of a law firm.

Further, there are many different administrative functions that are important in most law firms.  These administrative functions can involving bookkeeping, human resources, recruiting, marketing, facilities, client intake and client care functions.

The reality is that all these different areas of administration can involve having somebody with various different skill sets.  It’s unlikely that one person would be able to effective fill all these different roles based on their education and talent.

It’s also true that if you put one person in charge of all of these different roles, in some law firms, the administrative functions of the law firm could become extremely backlogged.  It’s also true that you could be giving an enormous amount of responsibility that they may not be qualified, experienced enough or equipped to handle.

For this reason, while having an office manager might sound like a good quick fix to the administrative side of the law firm, for many law firms, the situation is more complicated.  Instead of one office manager, these administrative functions may need to be filled by multiple people who have the skills to effectively handle these vastly different roles.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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