What does a Legal Administrator do?

Misty Amber Brighton

A legal administrator is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a legal office. This worker might control the firm's finances and approve expenses. She can also be in charge of interviewing, hiring, and firing staff members. Other times, this professional can be called on to market the services of attorneys working at the law firm. In some cases, she can be asked to sign contracts for goods and services as well.

The ability to multi-task is very important for a legal administrator.
The ability to multi-task is very important for a legal administrator.

One of the main things a legal administrator might be responsible for is dealing with the financial end of the business. An administrator could be in charge of approving budgets, forecasting profits, and collecting past due accounts. She could also perform simple accounting duties, control petty cash, or make sure taxes are paid on time.

A legal administrator may interview and hire new staff members like paralegals.
A legal administrator may interview and hire new staff members like paralegals.

Attorneys often end up with third party funds. This is because they may be responsible for distributing settlements or dividing property. In most jurisdictions, lawyers are required to maintain separate trust accounts for third party funds. A legal administrator is often charged with making sure these monies do not commingle with that of the law firm's.

A legal administrator often works much as an office manager, in that she may also be in charge of personnel. She could be responsible for interviewing and hiring paralegals and legal secretaries. The administrator might also oversee benefit plans, worker's compensation insurance, and payment of bonuses.

Marketing duties may also be assigned to this manager. This could involve placing newspaper, television, radio, or billboard ads. The legal administrator often approves advertisements before they are allowed to run. She may also sign contracts for ongoing services, such as a listing in the local phone directory.

Other times, a legal administrator may be asked to sign contracts for other goods and services. These can include upgrading or repairing computer equipment, or delivery of office supplies. She is not, however, authorized to accept cases on behalf of a practicing attorney in most countries including the U.S.

Many law firms believe they can turn a bigger profit if they hire a legal administrator to manage the office. This is often because this professional can be tasked with duties that an attorney or paralegal might otherwise have to undertake. Doing so allows lawyers to spend more time meeting with clients, thereby handling a larger caseload.

A legal administrator should be well organized, have ability to multi-task, and work well under pressure. She should also have a background in business administration or accounting. Those who have these qualifications may want to consider this career choice, as these jobs are expected to grow considerably in the coming years.

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