Law Firm Leaders Discuss Support Team Restructure

Allison O'Reilly, Business Operations Manager at Herrick Feinstein LLP, Josh DeLozier, Workflow Coordinator at Barclay Damon LLP, and Heather Johnson, Director of Legal Support Team at Barnes & Thornburg LLP discuss how they have approached restructuring their legal support teams for improved operational efficiency.

Allison: For the past two plus years, and we actually timed this in tandem with our rollout of BigHand Workflow Management, we moved our practice assistants into a team structure. So we still maintain the traditional one on one relationship for our partners and most of our counsel. But all of our other attorneys, our associates, our paralegals, some of our counsel, we have some fully remote attorneys, they are assigned to team support, so they no longer have a dedicated assistant. And it's been great.

We also introduced an Administrative Resource Center, we call them our ARC team. And they're comprised of junior admin assistants do a wide range of things, they handle the traditional front desk responsibilities, they provide admin support to all of our different support departments of the firms. So you name it, they do it. And they also provide backup support to our PAs and our attorneys. So it's been been an evolution, and we're still we're still going. But it's been a big change, I think over the last two plus years for us.

Josh: So we're in a mix of teams by practice areas. So we have one that's been rolling for over a year now and they were kind of like a group that just made sense. They were already connected very well and in regards to the other spot, it's still traditional, but slowly shifting, as you know, legal assistance retire or there's opportunity to move groups, we're slowly like integrating everybody. So they're in a team also configuring it. So if there's any, like carve outs, where somebody's not on a team, but they're in a different office, you know, we're making sure that that's situated. So that's still an ongoing process.

But it's always preached about it's always talked about, it's the thing that's down the road, but slowly, you know, outside of BigHand, we've been configuring that. So when the time comes, we'll have these department folders, legal assistant and attorneys and then below that, though, as I mentioned before, we have other lower tier support structures, where in your type groups that handle lower tier tasks, and they are our leader development group, and they collect work as a pool with their specific work assigned to them.

And then we also have another set group that handles a different group of tasks. So you know, different groups different teaming, besides the traditional and the attorney legal assistant site, we also have smaller pods, smaller pools of teams collecting work from the attorney, so BigHand there to move that process. So the work is being seen and moved to the right people.

Heather: Now the younger generation, they want to have a career path, a clearly defined career path. And they want developmental opportunities. And so I think if you can, you know, get them out of college and kind of train them up and then give them that path to you know, whatever it might be be really beneficial in the future because we're just you know, it's just be the way attorneys utilize their their LAAs is completely different than 20 years ago, they're more tech savvy, they don't need you know, they can type out a brief themselves, they don't need to dictate it and then have you transcribe it. So with like our assigned LAAs or practice based LAAs to be very high level and able to assist with client growth opportunities or very practice based tasks and project management skills and things like that.

About BigHand Workflow Management

To provide the best client service while supporting your bottom line, it’s vital to ensure your teams are working efficiently and smartly. Ineffective and outdated methods of delegating tasks makes it easy for things to be overlooked, means your workforce isn’t properly optimised, your tasks aren’t being delivered on time, and your bottom line is suffering as a result. BigHand Workflow Management is a task management solution that lets you turn your tasks into fully auditable, digital workflow entries. You can create tasks from voice, email, electronic or paper-based requests – from document production requests to reprographics and travel bookings.

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