The traditional personnel and staffing structure of law firms go something like this. There is one lawyer who has one secretary (or perhaps splits that secretary with another lawyer) and a group of paralegals who are available to all the attorneys. The lawyer or lawyers handle a lot of the drafting and review all paper. Paralegals summarize records and perform other miscellaneous functions. Secretary handles a lot of the typing and some of the administrative tasks.
Our firm works fundamentally different. Currently, I have two permanent support staff who perform a variety of functions from typing, scanning, filing and administrative tasks. I have one extranet manager who transcribes my dictation assigning extranet tasks, and inputting discussion items into the extranet. I have two secretaries (or as we call them “practice assistants”) who do traditional secretary, office management and paralegal work. I have one virtual case manager who keeps everything in the extranet moving forward towards completion. I have three virtual law clerks who do research and one virtual paralegal (who is actually a licensed attorney working from home) who does a variety of paralegal tasks.
That is one attorney to 9 or so full and part-time staff. Technology allows me to keep all these people busy all the time. This model provides efficiency and timeliness on tasks and the flow of information. How in the world does any attorney survive with ½ of a secretary, a shared pool of paralegals and law clerks? How does anything get done in a timely matter?