The Future of Legal Assistance

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Regular dude in San Francisco, California

58 months ago

Hey I have been noticing over the last few years that technology is becoming much more intuitive and that younger attorneys are more technologically sophisticated. As a result, legal secretaries are assisting five or more attorneys at a time. If this trend continues I suspect the position of legal secretary will become obsolete, and instead firms will have resource centers with a few computer software/e-filing experts that attorneys can turn to if they get stuck.

Is legal assistance going to be another casualty to modernity. Or do any of you see some other type of shift that's going to take place.

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Regular dude in San Francisco, California

58 months ago

DLP,

Yep. At the firm I work at it looks like there are going to be some changes. The resource center that I mentioned was brought up in a staff meeting. We all conjectured that it will mean less staff naturally. I'm just thinking where is this career headed. Will I have to get the Expert Adobe Certification as well as the Microsoft office Certificate. The bottle neck for people looking for work is putting real pressure on the job qualifications side. Looks like I might end up Displaced in San Francisco.

O and yes this is Keith. I registered for an Indeed account and "Keith" was already taken. I guess you figured it out through my writing style?

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Regular dude in San Francisco, California

58 months ago

DLP,

Just out of curiosity have you found any leads on a new job or career field? I like to cultivate contingency plans.

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Regular dude in San Francisco, California

58 months ago

Yeah that's something to think about. I was actually thinking about joining the PD or signing up for the military. I know it would be a transition from secretary but I think my secretary skills are going to be useful in what ever I do.

So you're not only displaced but discouraged. I can't blame you. There is such a bottle neck out there its almost not worth it. You know the bike messenger thing looks pretty cool as a part-time gig. But I don't know if that job would work in a place like denver, what with the sprall and all.

I'm going to look into that legal document thing. I might be able to do non-drama divorces or probate or something.

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Regular dude in San Francisco, California

58 months ago

Hey I intend to hold on to my job as long as possible but in this economy who knows what will happen. My firm is starting to think outside the box on the traditional way legal support is delivered to the associates. So who knows what that means.

If I did the military thing it would be for a new experience outside of clerical. In fact the only place that clerical work would work for me is in a major city. Otherwise the pay just doesn't line up for it to be worth it.

If I went military it would be Infantry enlisted with an airborne contract. I would put Afghanistan as my preferred assignment and I would try and qualify for a Ranger slot following jump school. I still think my typing skills and computer literacy would benefit me even in the Army Infantry.

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Corp Legal Secretary in Suwanee, Georgia

58 months ago

I work as a Legal Admin Assistant with a corporation. Haven't seen much regarding folks who work within corporate departments. Pay is sometimes lower, and there's rarely a bonus, but you work decent hours, and the lawyers seem to keep themselves 'in check', maybe since they have to deal with a lot of non-legal professionals who won't take any nonsense. And of course, there's the chance to work elsewhere within the company and possibly move ahead.

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Ms Gucci in Hollywood, Florida

58 months ago

I just wanted to say I love this forum because it allows you to grasp information, thoughts, and ideas from other legal professionals through a broader prospective. Because in school half of the things yall talk about they do not. You actually get to hear the up and downside of everything.

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Mary inTampa in Tampa, Florida

58 months ago

Is this supposed to be
The Future of Legal Assistance or
The Future of Legal Assistants

???

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Regular dude in San Francisco, California

58 months ago

Assistance. I was wondering if anyone had any insight into legal assistance from a firm wide perspective. What types of jobs are going to go away, and which jobs will change/grow and why. I'm just curious. I've noticed as practice groups go paperless there is less and less need for staff in multiple positions. And this new "resource center" at my firm has me freaked out about where non-attorney careers are headed.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

Regular dude in San Francisco, California said: Yeah that's something to think about. I was actually thinking about joining the PD or signing up for the military. I know it would be a transition from secretary but I think my secretary skills are going to be useful in what ever I do.

So you're not only displaced but discouraged. I can't blame you. There is such a bottle neck out there its almost not worth it. You know the bike messenger thing looks pretty cool as a part-time gig. But I don't know if that job would work in a place like denver, what with the sprall and all.

I'm going to look into that legal document thing. I might be able to do non-drama divorces or probate or something.

Non-drama divorces? ha, I laughed when I saw that. Can it be true? I always thought it was an oxymoron. Or that the people who actually can civilly part do it themselves.

Probate...that's what I do. It's a lovely niche. And one that has growth opportunities. You can do probate paralegal -- you don't have the massive paper you get in litigation and it's very interesting, and you often get to use your brain. I do a lot of probate litigation which is really fun. We hire cpa's for the tax end and I think that's a welcome job for them coming from a big 4 acctg. firm.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

Regular dude:

We have a resource center where I work. They don't threaten us at all. They just do basic typing jobs. And they mostly work at night which really helps us when we are ready to leave at 5pm.

Also, re: your post about our jobs going away. They certainly aren't in my firm anyway. We have gone "paperless". But it's not entirely so. My dept. must keep originals, so we still somewhat swim in paper. And while we use document software to manage the paperless system, even our young attorneys are so loaded down with work that they can't handle it. Or they really aren't as smart with software as one would think. They basically don't want to deal with it so the task is onto us. I feel that knowing these different types of software, including the ones Displaced mentioned, are what keep us around and keep us from getting fired/laid off.

Many of the secretaries I saw being laid off last year were older. I felt that was the result of the economy, but also the firm's excuse of getting rid of them. Really awful. But then there were some secretaries who refused to learn the new ways, and those got pushed out too.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

This is a great thread. I have much to contribute.

Re: Other avenues in the legal field. I think (hope) Displaced remembers me being the bored one, just about ready to leap into law school but then changed my mind. I have two degrees, an Assoc. in General Paralegal and a Bachelors in Sociology. I am not interested in social work or research, the two main avenues in Soc. But with the undergrad. I could go on to Masters. I haven't decided on a program yet as grad. school is what will really push me into a career.

A good friend of mine mentioned court administration. Or office mgr. as Displaced said. I think these would be good areas to look into.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

oops, sorry, there is also corporate work as another poster wrote about above. It can be hard to get into -- but the real estate secretaries/paralegals I know who work corporate are very comfortable. And the housing/economy crash didn't seem to affect them one bit!

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

Dispaced:

What I meant by growth opps is if you are already employed in the firm. I totally agree about breaking into the field.

There are a few boutique estate planning firms opening up in Cherry Creek. But yeah, the probate field is a unique and closely guarded niche. I lucked out by having my first law job with a sole practitioner who mainly did estates/probate. And that experience helped me land this job. I'm also youngish - as you point out being older makes things much harder in an already tight field.

There is drama in probate and that leads to the probate litigation - but for me it's not nearly the drama I saw in plaintiff work, personal injury, divorce, etc. As you know I'm in a large firm and here we don't work long hours - in fact our hours are short, but for full-time pay. We have more resources to lean on to pick up the work after 5pm so I'm never stuck trying to finish some last minute stuff.

I used to do that in my last firm and I know, it's awful. And I was going to college at night so I was always running to Auraria campus trying to make my class on time, not be late for an exam, etc.

Also, just doing estate planning seems to always lead to the probate issue. I don't know many who just draft wills and then don't handle their probate once they pass on.

And yep, still working for lawyers.

Re: Age discrimination and finding it blatant in law firms. I agree. I'm a minority and saw blatant racism in my last firm. I was amazed that the same guys that knew the law would allow that kind of cr*p to go on. But I guess if you know the ins then you can be more evil, you know? Less easier to get caught!

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

The one I'm thinking of has been around awhile. An assoc. here at my firm went over there and he loves it. I don't think he liked the largeness of my firm.

ha! That's funny. Yep, they are uppity. It's an uppity kind of law if you think about it. My firm only handles large estates and that means big $$. Hence uppity-ness. I was able to get in by pushing my litigation background and estate planning background. After that it was all personality and whether I would fit into the group.

I did some WC and that didn't have much drama. I think because it was just so cut and dry. The Pl. work I did was hideous, all car wrecks and slip and falls. Really the dregs of life I saw. We are talking Jerry Springer here.

And divorce, ew. It was like one big fight between two adult children with money. I felt like I was on Judge Judy. Or Maury Povich.

I guess I'm removed from a lot of the drama in probate. I see it, but I'm sheltered by the lawyers I work for. Sometimes I talk to them on the phone but that's mostly amusing for me. I'm betting a lot of our experiences are shaped mainly by the lawyers we work for, and the firm we are employed by. They definitely aren't all the same.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

oh sorry Displaced. I thought you were talking about estate planning firms being uppity. But yeah, downtown is that - money = uppity.

I know which firm you are talking about at R. Plaza. I turned down a job there - their HR person was really weird and I just got a bad overall feeling. Curtis... can't think of that one. I'm on 17th myself. And that's all you get!!

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

I know you weren't asking for my firm name. I was joking with that last statement. Your last post sounds to me as if you are annoyed by me. Sorry if that is so.

Something about Republic Plaza just bugs.

I have a few friends in small firms in lodo and they are doing well there.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

58 months ago

oh glad you weren't annoyed. Good thing I asked instead of assumed. I had the luxury of choosing between firms, so without that I would have taken the job. It just seems as though everyone at that bldg., law firm-wise, is not happy. Lawyers too which I take as an extremely bad sign.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

57 months ago

I've been through what you describe. I just don't get the brunt of most of that stuff, because my firm is so large, we all have pretty specific tasks to do. The lawyers are much more self-reliant than they were in my small firm. I still have tons of work, it's just different than before. In my old firm, I did everything and really got to know the case, parties, etc.

Now, there are so many associates/paralegals/even secretaries working on one matter the work is spread out - you don't get to know the cases as much. They also tend to take on far more than my one atty in the old firm.

Since our clients have $$, you don't see the prof. case mgrs. or GAL's as much. It's more about banks/trustees/PR's. With money comes luxury.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

57 months ago

I can honestly say my firm doesn't allow that kind of stuff to happen. I'm lucky in that I can say I am proud of where I work.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

57 months ago

Because we protect our clients from the beginning. Most of our clients are long-standing -- we don't have a lot of individuals who aren't set in stone with their estate planning. A lot of the fights we have are clients who did not have firm estate planning or an individual in their family decided to fight anyway. We have very strong lawyers who don't allow the GAL's to step in the mess in the first place.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

57 months ago

Thanks for the article links. I don't see any wealthy persons in those stories. The last story talks about how if the atty hadn't intervened, the guy would have been run over by a GAL. That guy's estate was worth $285K. My firm's estates are 3 times that. So what I'm saying is that while what you are talking about and what shows in these articles is just HORRIBLE and honestly downright CRIMINAL, I don't see it here at my work because we only help WEALTHY. Wealthy persons are not selling their artifacts to pay for their children's expenses. They are not without expensive counsel.

I do appreciate you sending those articles - I'm not blind to that kind of stuff, just saying I don't see a lot of it here.

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Not so Bored in Denver, Colorado

57 months ago

yeah, gotcha there. Litigation can mean so much, it's vast. And there are other variables to consider, who you work for and under which firm. Who you are in that firm.

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Dallasarea in dallas, Texas

57 months ago

The only part of that practice I would even think two nanoseconds about returning to would be estate planning. Period. Even then, it still means working for...lawyers.

It's called age discrimination and is against the law. It's amazing, and disgusting, how the legal industry, which is founded on upholding the law, can break the law so blatantly.

Hello again DLP: Although I have not worked in the legal working environment; I like reading what you post about it and you would know about working for lawyers in how they think and act along and treat their employees along with other folks reading these posts as I am sure they know the industry as well.

Thanks for your honest thoughts!

Dallas area

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