Veteran Litigation Service Providers Forge National Co.
Paralegals' Database Expertise Needed

"...while paralegals go high-tech,...

...the number of legal secretaries is dwindling." Excellent article!

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"Not only are work opportunities for paralegals growing but their work is increasingly sophisticated. Always in demand, paralegals have become the technology-proficient information managers often called upon to go to court alongside the attorney.

"'Paralegals today are much more relied upon,' Steefel, Levitt & Weiss' Chief Financial Officer Stephen Wahle said. The 80-lawyer firm employs about a dozen paralegals and counts on them to keep up with the technologies used in information management and litigation. 'Somebody has to be educated in the tech side of things,' he said. 'The lawyers don't have the time.'

"Andrea Hunolt, division director of Robert Half Legal, said facility in database and information management and knowledge of software programs and legal technology is much sought after.

"'The best thing a paralegal can do today to further their career is to become very technically savvy,' she said. 'And once you get into a law firm, raise your hand to get involved in more advanced work.'

"Hunolt said law firms also use paralegals as a cost-cutting measure as clients grow more price-sensitive. Paralegals work at $100 to $150 an hour. An attorney might bill two to three times more. "Clients are looking more at the cost of the project than the hourly cost of an attorney," Hunolt said.

"Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe's San Francisco human resources manager, Jackie Hughes, agreed. "The client is demanding it," she said, adding that clients typically want to meet not just the attorneys but the paralegals before hiring the firm.

"Paralegals have more room to grow, and faster. The need for firms to operate more effectively has opened doors to leadership positions, and the use of director-level managers of paralegal teams [PDF link] is growing."

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