IT'S ALL FREE! Who are They?

In your legal nurse consulting program, you probably focused on attorneys. That makes sense because attorneys are the people LNCs work with. But if you plan on working in a law firm or interacting with its attorneys, you might want to know a little bit more about how law firms function.  Let's take a look at some common positions in law firms and what those employees do.

Partners. There are two types of partners in law firms: equity and non-equity.  Both types of partners are attorneys, of course, but equity partners are owners of the firm, make decisions for the firm and share in its profits. Non-equity partners are not owners of the firm but may have other benefits such as having their name as part of the firm name and increased compensation. Partners may do all the things that associates do but they often have more responsibilities such as overseeing the firm's management or attending trials.

Accountants/Bookkeepers. These are financial people who pay bills, create invoices, watch cash flow, and process payroll.

Administrators/Office Managers. Administrators and Office Managers run the business side of the firm, including benefits coordination and management of human resources and facilities.

Associates. Associates are attorneys who are employees of the firm. Associates work up assigned cases by attending hearings, conducting legal research, preparing legal pleadings and discovery demands, deposing witnesses, and preparing for trial.

Clerks. There are several kinds of clerks that are employed by law firms.   File Clerks. File clerks keep legal documents organized for easy access. They also store documents to prevent damage.  Law Clerks.  In law firms, law clerks are often law school students who help attorneys with legal research or paralegal responsibilities.  Subpoena Clerks. Defense law firms use subpoena clerks to aid attorneys with drafting, filing and tracking subpoenas.

Information Management. If the firm is large enough, it may have its own staff to manage hardware, software, and user support of computer systems.

Legal Assistants. Legal assistants used to be called Secretaries.  They schedule appointments, review mail, type legal documents, field phone calls, maintain legal files and calendar deadlines for attorneys. Legal Assistants are also the gatekeepers for the attorneys in the firm. In some firms, they may also perform paralegal functions.

Legal Nurse Consultants/Nurse Paralegals. Many firms call legal nurse consultants  paralegals even though the two groups may have very different responsibilities. LNCs review, analyze, and summarize medical records, advise attorneys of the medical implications of the case, find experts, conduct medical research, interview fact witnesses, and assist the attorneys with deposition and trial preparation. 

Office Services. Medical malpractice cases generate lots of medical records that are copied and/or scanned for experts and firm use. Larger law firms may have an Office Services department whose personnel make the copies and scan the documents for the firm.

Paralegals. Paralegals assist attorneys with legal research, draft legal documents such as motions, pleadings and discovery documents, and assist attorneys with deposition and trial preparation. 

Receptionist. The receptionist answers and forwards phone calls, sorts mail, greets visitors, coordinates conference rooms, and performs other administrative tasks.

Typist/Word Processor. "Typist" is a traditional term and "Word Processor" is a more contemporary term for the same position. Larger law firms employ typists or word processors to transcribe dictation and type legal documents.

You now know some of the common positions in law firms and how those employees function.

...Katy Jones