The job duties of a legal practice manager are consistent with upper-level management in other organisations. The legal practice manager uses organizational skills, management expertise and business knowledge to ensure the practice is profitable for member lawyers. Although a legal practice manager can be a lawyer or a person with a law degree, the legal administrator is often a paralegal or a management professional.
Legal practice managers, also called legal administrators, supervise the day-to-day operations of a law practice. This administrative job is important so that lawyers are free to work on their client caseloads.
To run the office, managers must know about standard human resources practices, manage a budget and fulfil other business management duties.
According to an Association of Legal Administrators survey, two important job tasks, after day-to-day management, are building the organizational culture and work environment and facilitating communication. The legal administrator accomplishes these objectives by keeping a pulse on the practice: walking around and interacting with lawyers, paralegals and support staff. Through communication, the administrator identifies people problems and works toward solutions so as not to endanger employee productivity or the quality of the workplace culture.
As a professional administrator, the legal practice manager uses business knowledge to ensure the practice remains operational and profitable. This means looking at financial records, accounting practices, revenue, and other financial strategies to make sure the business turns a profit. The law practice must maintain its position as a business and conform to legal and ethical requirements for client billing required by the state in which it operates.
Two other job tasks in the ALA survey relate to operations, including the development, implementation, monitoring and prioritising of policies and procedures. This operational focus coordinates strongly with the need for solid business planning. The legal practice manager examines operations and makes decisions such as realigning employee responsibilities.
The legal practice manager is a manager of information. He is responsible for information sharing with the firm's senior lawyers. That means the manager receives information from employees and communicates it in meetings and through information technologies such as e-mail to update senior partners in the legal practice.
The manager also communicates and collaborates with internal and external stakeholders, including suppliers, staff, and vendors. Collecting information that can aid the firm in day-to-day and company-wide decision-making benefits the practice.