History and Demographics
The Legal AdministratorA legal administrator manages business functions as well as the overall operations of a law office. He or she reports to the managing partner, management committee or Chairman of the Board, and participates in management meetings. In addition to general responsibility for financial planning and controls, personnel administration, and systems and physical facilities, the legal administrator identifies and plans for the changing needs of the organization, shares responsibility with the appropriate partners or owners for strategic planning, practice management and marketing, and contributes to cost-effective management throughout the organization. Depending on a law firm's size and practice, those activities may be coordinated through one person (a "principal administrator") or through a team of specialists with strong knowledge and proficiency in one or more of these areas.
Legal Business Partners and LawyersLawyers now spend as much as 20 percent of firm income on the necessities of practicing law in a modern society. In fact, lawyers and law office managers rely on a continuing stream of new products and services to enable lawyers to practice more efficiently and effectively.
While managers may meet with some resistance, there is always great excitement about, and great anticipation of, the "latest and greatest." Therefore, the link between those who practice law and those who provide products and services will always be important.
The Profitable Law FirmThe majority of lawyers had no intention of running a business when they decided to go to law school. But for most of them, especially managing partners and those in small and mid-sized firms, that’s exactly what they are doing – running a business.
Law firms are profitable when they deliver quality legal services to their clients in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner. In order to do so, each person within the firm contributes to the client service process in ways that best utilize their skills and abilities. For lawyers, this means doing what they’re educated and trained to do: practice law.
The legal administrator contributes to client service and the firm’s bottom line by managing the business operations of the practice. Successful legal administrators create processes and procedures that are needed for the firm to operate at peak efficiency — and its highest level of profitability. They bring professional management techniques to the professional practice of law.
Our AssociationSince 1971, ALA has been serving the unique needs of legal management professionals. In fact, ALA's overall mission is to improve the quality of legal management and promote and enhance the competence and professionalism of legal administrators.
ALA recognizes that its members' needs can be addressed at a number of levels. At the international level, ALA provides a number of resources - many of which facilitate member education and direct interaction with business partners in the industry. The Annual Conference & Expo, one of the premier events for anyone involved in legal management, provides many opportunities for establishing one-to-one relationships between business partners and administrators.
Other resources also play a part and offer business partners communication opportunities:
- This website (www.alanet.org)
- Legal Management — the bimonthly industry journal of ALA
- BOLD Bites — our member e-newsletter sent weekly via email, and print edition sent monthly
ALA members reside in six regions, where additional opportunities exist for education and networking during fall Regional Conferences.
Lastly, the majority of members and business partners have access to ALA Chapters. Networking opportunities abound in this very important setting. Chapters provide a number of additional resources, including regular meetings, education programs, and business partner events. Members can connect with professional colleagues right at home to acquire education, exchange information, and provide assistance and advice to one another.
Legal Business Partners and ALAThe Association of Legal Administrators organized its first Annual Conference in 1972. For that event, the organization invited a handful of law office suppliers to exhibit—and some of them have continued to exhibit every year. Many also support the organization through sponsorships, partnering relationships and underwriting at all ALA levels.
From that initial handful, the number of exhibitors has grown to nearly 300 annually. Apart from the Annual Conference & Expo, ALA offers exhibitor opportunities at the six Regional Conferences, specialty conferences and many individual chapters have retreats and business partner fairs. Business partner sponsorships at all these events helps ALA enhance membership offerings and keep registration fees for member attendees reasonable.