Average Caseload

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Overworked Paralegal in Wichita, Kansas

51 months ago

I'm a paralegal working at a plaintiff firm handling personal injury cases and was very curious about trying to find out what the average caseload is for personal injury cases. The way our firm is set up, there are 2 attorneys and 3 paralegals. We have no support staff whatsoever - only a runner who does just that - runs. The rest of the time she is answering the phones and we're not permitted to ask her for help at all. We have no file clerk, no secretary - it's just the 3 paralegals. Each of us have between 90-120 cases. I've been a paralegal for almost 15 years and have always had support staff but have only worked Plaintiff's side for about a year. I absolutely cannot get caught up and I don't know if it's me or if his expectations are too high expecting 1 person to do the entire workload of 90-120 cases from beginning up through trial - including the basic filing and dictation.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

51 months ago

The expectations are too high. They are going to work you to death - until you quit or get fired. I bet you go home absolutely fried.

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Overworked Paralegal in Wichita, Kansas

51 months ago

Thank you both for your responses. In the year I've been with this firm, I have missed 1 major deadline and a half dozen minor ones that were easily fixed. The major deadline was not fixable, but went unnoticed by opposing counsel so the client didn't lose her right to recover, thank goodness! Before coming to this firm, I had never missed any deadlines - came close a few times but never missed them. The other two paralegals in the firm - one of them works 60-70 hours per week (no overtime), and the other one straight 40 but does the bare minimum and her cases/files are in horrible shape. She has said more than once since he doesn't pay overtime she's not working it. I don't blame her a bit. I was really beginning to feel like the 90-120 was the norm for plaintiff side and that I just wasn't cut out for plaintiff's side, but now I think it's not me. I always kept up on defense side. This is what is expected of the paralegals in my firm: dictation, filing, client intake, build wage loss support, build medical records and billing submissions, schedule IME's, prepare brochures, prepare litigation docs, have defendants served, prepare initial discovery docs, meet with clients and respond to discovery, designate experts, prepare for trial and all the other things you don't think about like calendaring, letters, faxing, copying, scanning, and the list goes on. No support staff whatsoever. If it needs to be done on a case I am assigned to, I do it - short of showing up at depositions and trials. And 2 days of the week I cover phones for our runner/receptionist to have breaks, go to lunch, and go on runs. I have my annual review coming up, and I want to present to him why I'm not meeting his expectations in a thoughtful way. The turnover in my position has been high, and now I understand why.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

51 months ago

Personal injury sucks - big time. Think of all the money he is raking in - and you aren't.

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cmad in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

42 months ago

Overworked Paralegal in Wichita, Kansas said: I'm a paralegal working at a plaintiff firm handling personal injury cases and was very curious about trying to find out what the average caseload is for personal injury cases. The way our firm is set up, there are 2 attorneys and 3 paralegals. We have no support staff whatsoever - only a runner who does just that - runs. The rest of the time she is answering the phones and we're not permitted to ask her for help at all. We have no file clerk, no secretary - it's just the 3 paralegals. Each of us have between 90-120 cases. I've been a paralegal for almost 15 years and have always had support staff but have only worked Plaintiff's side for about a year. I absolutely cannot get caught up and I don't know if it's me or if his expectations are too high expecting 1 person to do the entire workload of 90-120 cases from beginning up through trial - including the basic filing and dictation.

I just made one year at a personal injury law office and was wondering about the case load myself. Our office is small- one attorney and me. I do everything that he doesn't do except about 80% of the time his girlfriend comes in and does the bookkeeping and takes care of the business files, but when she is mad at him and refuses to come in to work that falls to me as well. We have over 100 open cases and I really think that it is too much. I can't keep up and neither can he. Is it just personal injury or all law offices like this?

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understanding in Santa Rosa, California

38 months ago

I think most offices are like that. My office has one attorney and 2 paralegals and we have 215 open cases. It's fairly normal in this line of work. The economy has made a situation where no insurance company wants to pay out at policy limits so they would rather pay an attorney and go all the way up to trial. Most defense firms are winning but they too are not getting paid much. So overworked paralegals are the norm. I feel your pain but chin up.

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understanding in Santa Rosa, California

38 months ago

I think most offices are like that. My office has one attorney and 2 paralegals and we have 215 open cases. It's fairly normal in this line of work. The economy has made a situation where no insurance company wants to pay out at policy limits so they would rather pay an attorney and go all the way up to trial. Most defense firms are winning but they too are not getting paid much. So overworked paralegals are the norm. I feel your pain but chin up.

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

38 months ago

Talk about cutting corners. Both of these firms are shy at least one legal secretary. Nobody is going to last long there under those conditions. And I imagine the pay isn't so hot either. I bet these people had no idea what they were getting into when they accepted these jobs. Otherwise, they wouldn't have accepted them. I'd last a month at best at either of these jobs before telling them to go a,b,c,d, e, F themselves. They'd simply be on to the next sucker to take the job.

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Freaking out in AZ in Peoria, Arizona

37 months ago

Okay, so I work for an insurance subrogation attorney and am hired on at 35 hours per week and we have a caseload of 95 cases with no other support staff. My responsibilities include:

-All billing, down to entering all cost checks received and handing him the stack of invoices to pay to vendors based upon what he has been paid for.
-All scheduling of depositions, arbitrations, mediations, etc.
-Opening ICA cases
-Opening all new cases
- ALL drafting of pleadings, motions, discovery, disclosures, etc. I am not exaggerating when I say he drafts nothing. In fact, I write it and meet him once a week for signings and he rarely adds or changes anything.
-All document management
-All letters
-All scanning, copying, importing to our case software, mailing, and coordinating with the runner or e-filing when appropriate
-All calendaring

I'm so frustrated. My boss has been on me for making mistakes and/or not doing enough. Our software allows for a history report that shows each time a user does something in a case (imaging, e-mailing, setting a date/action code, completing a date/action code or making notes). Now, this doesn't reflect telephone calls or take into account the time each task takes. He has had only one short telephonic status conference this week and when I ran the report on Tuesday at approx. 1 in the afternoon, my report for Monday and Tuesday showed 202 entries in the files. His report? 6. I am struggling with whether or not his expectations are realistic. He says that the computer tech told him most paralagals handle 2 attorneys with a caseload of 80-90 each. I want to ask him if the attorneys do as little as he does and if the paralegals do that with absolutely no support staff. Do you more experienced paralegals have a take on this? I'm so frustrated. Keep in mind, I'm paid 35 hours per week. Not 40-50. I would appreciate any guidance you can offer. Thank you.

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mary in Tampa, Florida

37 months ago

Whatever do you - DO NOT WORK FOR FREE. If you get paid for 35 hours, then that's all you work. What he is pushing for (and I have been there)is for you to give until you have nothing left. Then you quit and he replaces you with someone else who will do the same. What he gets is a lot of free work hours and not having unemployment tax charged to him - and a fresh employee to work on a regular basis.

("His computer tech told him most paralegals handle 2 attorneys with a caseload of 80-90 each"). There was a reason for this remark. Don't get manipulated.

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Freaking out in AZ in Peoria, Arizona

37 months ago

Thank you, Mary. To be honest, it is reaching the point with his nasty e-mails and constant dumping of more on me that I feel almost bullied. I'm so overwhelmed, that it is making it difficult for me to even be as productive as I should be for 35 hours. He has had turnover in this position and claims he wants someone there for the long haul, but I really feel he wants to do nothing and have everything spoon fed to him. I don't know how to remind him that he does nearly nothing without coming across as insubordinate and I need a job to support my family, so am feeling very trapped. Ugh.

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mary in Tampa, Florida

37 months ago

He knows he does nothing. He's pimping you. You need to find another job.

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FLFamLawParalegal in Tampa, Florida

37 months ago

I wholly agree with everything Mary said. Start looking for another job ASAP. In the meantime, document all of your activities carefully. Keep a detailed, dated record of what you are doing each day. If he is complaining about you not doing enough, politely pointing out all of your activities for any given day will refute that. If he is complaining about you making mistakes, politely suggest that you should probably slow down in your work so that you can concentrate. (ha ha ha that should go over like a ton of bricks.) Of course, an attorney like that probably isn't worth reasoning with. Find another job - they are out there. You can do it!

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

37 months ago

Considering you are doing both the secretary work and the paralegal work, 95 cases is too many. I have talked to people who have worked for insurance subrogation attorneys and they all said it was a total beating. Most didn't last a year. It's a crummy area of law. The ones I talked to all had over 200 cases each, but they had secretarial help. Attorneys played golf.

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

37 months ago

Sounds like a secretary job with a sprinkling of attorney for the drafting. I assume you mean you are writing them yourself rather than typing from his dictation. You're a real trooper if you stay long in this job. I wouldn't last two weeks. Or two days even. Ridiculous.

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FLFamLawParalegal in Tampa, Florida

37 months ago

Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois said: Sounds like a secretary job with a sprinkling of attorney for the drafting. I assume you mean you are writing them yourself rather than typing from his dictation. You're a real trooper if you stay long in this job. I wouldn't last two weeks. Or two days even. Ridiculous.

Actually, it sounds like two secretaries, a paralegal, an accountant and a receptionist. That you've lasted so long is really amazing!

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Freaking out in AZ in Peoria, Arizona

37 months ago

Oh, thank you all for the input. His comments have been making me feel doubtful of my abilities and I've never had that before from past attorneys I have worked with. You are correct, I'm not doing the drafting from dictation. It's all me. In fact, I actually feel really nervous about his lack of review of my work. I've been doing this since April '10, so not quite 1 1/2 years. I'm exhausted and the stress has worn me down completely. I've determined that things are not going to change with him and plan to revamp my resume this weekend and pledge to apply to at least 5 jobs a day until something new comes along. Based upon everyone saying this is the nature of the game in subro work, I'm thinking to steer clear of this specialty in the future. Next time, I will be asking more questions about the case load, support staff and how much the attorney will be doing. I will not be put in this position again. Thank you all again for your wisdom and have a great weekend!!

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mary in Tampa, Florida

37 months ago

He is making those comments to make you doubtful of yourself - so you think it YOU - and you try harder. I've been there. It is unlikely you can quit and get unemployment. Don't expect a reference from him either. When you are asked in an interview why you are looking for another job, be truthful.

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Paralegal in Dallas, Texas

37 months ago

When I have had attorneys who wouldn't review pleadings I would just say, "Dude, it's your law license not mine."

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Laid Off Secretary in Urbana, Ohio

35 months ago

Wow, I can certainly relate to all of you...I worked in a small law firm for 23 years before being laid off in 2009...as the years went on, I grew to absolutely hate what I was doing and I was stressed out to the max....I know now I should have left a lot sooner, and I could have had another job before the bottom fell out of the economy....no more legal jobs for me...the stress is just not worth it....

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