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Competency-Based Job/Needs Analysis
 

Job Tasks Performed

Required Knowledge or Competencies

Competencies Required of Principal Legal Administrators

Description of Survey Results

Competency statements describe the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to successfully perform on the job. The surveys contained a list of 56 competencies that were identified as being part of the legal administrator job. By identifying the most critical competencies, ALA is able to provide educational programs and a valid certification program targeting those competencies. To contribute to this effort, we sought to understand two factors:

  • The competencies that are most important to the principal administrator job.
  • The competencies for which principal administrators perceive the greatest need for professional development.

Two types of ratings were obtained from the surveys. First, both legal administrators and their employers were asked how important each competency was in relation to other competencies. The following scale was used on the survey.

5 = Much more important than most other competencies
4 = Somewhat more important than most other competencies
3 = About the same importance as most other competencies
2 = Somewhat less important than most other competencies
1 = Much less important than most other competencies
0 = Not applicable (this competency is not part of my job)

Second, legal administrators were asked to indicate their need for professional development in relation to each competency. Here is a listing of the top ten needs for professional development here. The following scale was used on the survey:

3 = More than most other competencies
2 = About the same as most other competencies
1 = Less than most other competencies
0 = Not applicable (this competency is not part of my job)

Competency Importance Ratings

View the full list of competencies ranked by mean importance rating. The table below lists the top 10 most important competencies rated by administrators and employers. Administrators rated written communication skills, interpersonal relations skills, and oral communication skills as the most important. Knowledge of general accounting and knowledge of budgeting are also among the most important competencies.

It is interesting to note that eight of the top 10 competencies are the same for administrators and employers, indicating strong agreement between the two groups. The statistical correlation between the mean ratings of administrators and employers was .96, indicating highly consistent ratings across the two samples.

Top Rated Competencies - Comparison of Administrators and Employer Ratings

Administrators Employers
Written communication skills (e.g., writing memos, policy manuals, proposals, job descriptions). Interpersonal relations skills (e.g., performance counseling, client contacts).
Interpersonal relations skills (e.g., performance counseling, client contacts). Oral communication skills (e.g., presentations to staff and lawyers, interactions with clients and vendors).
Oral communication skills (e.g., presentations to staff and lawyers, interactions with clients and vendors). Written communication skills (e.g., writing memos, policy manuals, proposals, job descriptions).
Knowledge of general accounting procedures, systems, terms, concepts and policies, including familiarity with general ledger, general journal entries, cost accounting, fixed asset accounting, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. Knowledge of time management strategies (e.g., setting priorities, delegating).
Knowledge of budgeting, financial reporting, cash flow analysis, and variance analysis. Knowledge of general accounting procedures, systems, terms, concepts and policies, including familiarity with general ledger, general journal entries, cost accounting, fixed asset accounting, accounts receivable, and accounts payable.
Knowledge of time management strategies (e.g., setting priorities, delegating). Knowledge of the features and capabilities of computer and network hardware and software systems, including general purpose packages (e.g., spreadsheets, database programs, and word processing applications).
Knowledge and skill in negotiation and conflict management techniques. Knowledge of procedures and tools for recruiting, selecting, and promoting employees.
Knowledge of procedures and tools for recruiting, selecting, and promoting employees. Skill in using computer systems (e.g., word processing, accessing informational databases).
Knowledge of performance management systems (e.g., appraisal, disciplinary, and termination procedures). Knowledge and skill in negotiation and conflict management techniques.
Knowledge of leadership styles and techniques. Knowledge of budgeting, financial reporting, cash flow analysis, and variance analysis.

Results revealed that Communications and Self-Management were consistently ranked as the most important categories, regardless of firm size. Additionally, competencies related to Human Resources Management were ranked as more important in larger firms, while Financial Management was more important in smaller firms. However, most differences were small, even between the very small and large firms. Only one competency yielded a d value greater than .71 (“Knowledge of the process of law firm mergers and acquisitions”), indicating that particular competency was rated as more important for performance in large firms.

Competency Ratings: Need for Professional Development

The table below lists the 10 competencies for which the mean rating of need for professional development needs was highest. Administrators perceive a need for professional development in a wide variety of topics such as marketing techniques, records management, negotiation and conflict management, employee motivation techniques, and U.S. employee benefit laws.

Top Rated Competencies - Need for Professional Development

Rank Competency Statement
1 Knowledge of planning techniques (e.g., strategic, disaster, and business planning).
2 Knowledge of records management and retention requirements (including paper and electronic documents).
3 Knowledge and skill in negotiation and conflict management techniques.
4 Knowledge of changes/trends in the legal industry.
5 Knowledge of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Ethics as it pertains to law firm management (e.g., conflict of interest, advertising, client file management).
6 Knowledge of marketing techniques, including market analysis and marketing tools.
7 Knowledge of electronic privacy issues.
8 Knowledge of U.S. federal employee benefit laws (e.g., Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act [COBRA], Fair Labor Standards Act, Family and Medical Leave Act [FMLA], Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA], ERISA).
9 Knowledge of the features and capabilities of the Internet, web-based technology, and hardware and software systems, including security and confidentiality.
10 (tie) Oral communication skills (e.g., presentations to staff and lawyers, interactions with clients and vendors).
10 (tie) Knowledge of employee motivational techniques
 
Additional Information

Demographics

Competencies of Legal Administrators

Awards

ALA Chapters

 
 
 
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