Hiring a Legal Management Professional



How much a legal manager 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 legal manager to perform at a professional level — and the compensation should match. A legal manager's earnings are often comparable to that of senior associates or junior partners. In addition to salary and fringe benefits, legal management professionals 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 a legal manager 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 legal managers, and the review process should culminate in a face-to-face meeting that provides an opportunity for candid discussion between the legal manager and the managing partner or a person in a similar capacity. This process will help legal managers better serve the firm and adapt to your needs — after all, a clear understanding of expectations will yield a more beneficial relationship for your firm and its operations.

Additionally, the management or executive committee and all lawyers in your firm must accept the legal management professional — 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.