Hiring a Legal Management Professional
How much an administrator should be paid depends on the size of the firm, the geographic location and the scope of the position to be filled. There are a number of surveys and studies that can help you determine a compensation package, including ALA’s annual Compensation and Benefits Survey, which provides data from hundreds of firms across the country and covers more than 60 administrative/managerial positions found in law offices. The survey is available for purchase online.
Law firms should expect their administrator to perform at a professional level and the compensation should match. Administrator earnings are often comparable to a senior associate or junior partner. In addition to salary and fringe benefits, legal administrators should be given every opportunity to increase their knowledge and expand their network through memberships in professional associations and continuing educational opportunities.
Acceptance and Feedback: The Keys to Success
Once you’ve hired an administrator and that person has been on staff for a few months, plan to conduct performance reviews at regular intervals. Performance feedback is extremely important for the administrator, and the review process should culminate in a face-to-face meeting that provides an opportunity for candid discussion between the administrator and the managing partner or a person in a similar capacity. This process will help the administrator better serve the firm and adapt to your needs. After all, the better understanding he or she has of what you want and how well those expectations are being met, the more the overall relationship will benefit your firm and its operations.
The management or executive committee and all lawyers in your firm must accept the legal administrator — both the position and the person — and view that role as vital to the firm’s success. If lawyer support is lacking, there will be a corresponding lack of support from the staff. The partners or shareholders of a firm must also be willing to accept the notion of someone other than a partner or shareholder making recommendations, participating in their meetings and contributing to the agenda.