The Paralegal Working Environment
Practicing law is a profession: lawyers use their years of education and experience to serve the interests of their clients. The practice of law is also a business: law firms must generate revenue, pay overhead expenses, and generate a profit for the owners. As the number of lawyers in this country increases, the competition for clients becomes more intense. This competition has fueled the expansion of the paralegal profession, but it also has consequences for the paralegal working environment.
To satisfy the demands of increasingly sophisticated consumers of legal services, lawyers must control the costs of those services. Controlling the costs of services requires more active management of the business of running a law firm. A typical law firm might attempt to manage its business in sever al different ways, including the financial aspects of the business, the areas of legal practice the firm engages in, the types of internal systems the law firm follows, employee management, and strategic planning. The degree to which the law firm manages these aspects of its business depends on the law firm. Some firms have very involved structures; others address these issues on an ad hoc basis. Knowing how the law firm manages these business issues can tell the paralegal a great deal about the culture of the law firm.