New LitSupport Survey Shows Managers Get Big Bucks

Survey2The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) has been surveying Litigation Support Professionals to uncover interesting insights and valuable facts to help LSPs make the most of their careers.  The survey, sponsored by ZyLab and Career Numbers, is unlike traditional salary and utilization surveys. The survey is left open to regularly update the information and release new and interesting insights.  Additionally, OLP/Zylab will continue to provide free access to the updated results to each person who completes the survey. 

The Organization of Legal Professionals (OLP) is a non-profit organization providing continuing legal education and certification exams to the legal community.  The organization offers courses in eDiscovery, litigation support, project management and other timely topics.  OLP also offers over 40 scholarships per year to long-term unemployed legal professionals. 

The goal of the survey is to empower legal professionals to make the most of their careers by providing personalized career information, giving them better insight into the implications of their decisions. Companies are using data to earn larger profits, sports teams are using data to build better teams, and now it’s time for law firm employees to start using data to make the most of their careers.

The survey replaces generic statistics such as “people with law degrees earn, on average, 20% more over their careers than those with Bachelors degrees” with smart comparisons, such as “people like you (based on your education, experience, career goals, work ethic, and more) earn, on average, 34% more over their careers by attending a top 25 law school program, feel 42% more satisfied with their career, work 6 hours more per week, and feel 14% more stressed.”

The survey has been completed by almost 300 firms across the U.S. 

Here are some of the many insights uncovered to date:

  • Nearly three-quarters of Litigation Support Professionals (LSPs) reported being paid an annual salary with the average salary equal to $75,700.
  • The average Litigation Support Manager earns $111,000 per year while their direct reports average $89,300 of total compensation per year.
  • 65% of LSPs received an annual bonus, and a super majority reported that the size of their bonus was based on merit and/or their employer’s success. 
  • The average annual raise was 3.1% this past year, with the highest and lowest earning LSPs receiving the lowest annual raises on a percentage basis.
  • 55% of LSPs agree or strongly agree that their employer’s technology makes it easy for them to do their work well, while 27% say that their employer’s technology is antiquated or somewhat antiquated.
  • Nearly 32% consider themselves satisfied with their positions while almost 30% are dissatisfied with the recognition that they receive.
  • More than half of LSPs believe that their employer’s reputation is within the top 20% of their industry.
  • 55% are satisfied to moderately satisfied with their work/life balance and over 70% are moderately satisfied to satisfied with their boss.
  • LSPs consider on-the-job training to be the most valuable training method, followed by Webinars, Seminars, and then Self-Study.
  • Two-thirds of LSPs are satisfied or mostly satisfied with their career, while only 51% are satisfied or mostly satisfied with their compensation.
  • 62% of LSPs have a private office while 52% have an office window.
  • While less than 10% of LSPs are actively looking for a new job, the majority are open to better employment opportunities.

Summary:  Hot! Candidates are paid well, the work is interesting and while LSP’s do not feel they receive as much recognition as they would like, it appears to be an area of strong consideration for those with excellent technology background even without legal knowledge.

This is a small portion of the insights that are available to participants who have completed the comprehensive salary and utilization survey.  OLP/Zylab will continue to update the information, so check back quarterly for updated reports and new insights. For more information or to participate in the survey, please visit www.theolp.org.  For more information regarding ZyLab, go to: www.zylab.com.


The Job Seeker's Paradigm - You Might Hold the Upper Hand Even in This Market

 From our guest blogger, Tom  Dezell:

Be the Answer to thWoman and laptope Hiring Managers’ Problems
by Tom Dezell

Today’s labor market is an employer’s market. Companies can select from arguably the largest candidate [paralegal] pool in history. Discouraged job seekers often complain that the disparity in numbers contributes to an atmosphere of employer arrogance. Their advantage of supply over demand has lead to a lack of common courtesy regarding keeping candidates informed, returning calls, etc. While this perception certainly has merit, it’s important for job seekers to realize that the key individual at a company with an opening may not perceive him or herself as holding all the trump cards. That’s the hiring manager.

In most scenarios, these uncertain economic times mean that this opening has existed significantly longer than the hiring manager would have liked. The extended delay increases the probability that what started as a need has quickly escalated to the problem or crisis level, most of which has fallen on the desk of the hiring manager. This crisis presents a candidate with their best opportunity to get hired. A hiring manager facing a laundry list of problems will be drawn to the candidate most capable of solving these problems.

Once you’re scheduled to interview with a hiring manager, prepare by learning as much information as possible regarding the backlogs and difficulties this opening has created. This is where your network becomes critical. Think of anyone you know with knowledge of the company and the hiring manager. LinkedIn can provide connecting points from your network to the company. Once you identify them, use these contacts to get an idea of the biggest need facing  the company and its hiring manager. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Once you have a better idea what the problems are, you can better emphasize the skills, successes and projects from your background that will best demonstrate your ability to solve them.

One of the most consistent mistakes I see job seekers make is failing to view the hiring situation through the eyes of the employer. Rather than perceiving a hiring manager as a the one with all the power, realize this is an individual with a need. You can much better offer yourself as a solution once you clearly understanding the hiring manager’s problem.

Tom Dezell, author of Networking for the Novice, Nervous, or Naive Job Seeker, has been a professional career advisor and resume writer for more than 25 years. Currently, Dezell works with the Maryland Department of Workplace Development, facilitating career seminars as well as advising individuals job seekers. For more information, please visit
www.yournetworkingguide.com.


"Keeping Current Can Be Hard to Do for Law Librarians"

I bet! In fact, I've often thought that being a law librarian would be a most interesting job. Just think about everything you would learn!

"Librarians are curious people. We like to skim magazines and books, we like to surf the Web and we have some interest in a lot of topics. A former co-worker used to say that librarians are 'trivial' in that we are always picking up trivia -- a definite asset when one needs to keep current in their profession.

"I was familiar with blogs, wikis and social software before I wrote 'The Many Hats of a Law Librarian: Part 3.'

[snip]

"So, keeping current has two parts: awareness of new or changing resources/activities and appreciation of possible uses or impact in your institution. Or, there may not be a use in your library. Mash-ups look to be a fun technology, but I do not see a need for it at my institution at this time. Law firm librarians may find it more interesting.

"Keeping current is not just for technology advances, although technology does drive much of the change and activity. My 'Hats' series [of articles] is an attempt to describe how the Internet and electronics have impacted and continue to impact our profession. Our traditional hats as modified by technology means current awareness crosses more lines and covers more topics than ever."

Author Tricia Kasting is a reference/government documents librarian at Hofstra University School of Law's Deane Law Library in Hempstead, N.Y.


"Biglaw Plods Towards Mastodon's Fate"

Goodness, gracious, this is a remarkable discussion about the future of big law firms! Thanks to lawyer, author, & blogger Robert J. Ambrogi for highlighting it in Legal Blog Watch:

"When the general counsel of a major corporation says that the current model of the large law firm is heading towards extinction, ears perk up throughout the legal industry. That is precisely what happened after Sun Microsystems GC Mike Dillon wrote on his blog last week that Biglaw is going The Way of the Mastodon. His thesis is that large law firms exist primarily as aggregators of specialized legal expertise -- by combining multiple legal disciplines, firms can provide 'one stop shopping' for their clients. That used to make sense, in the days before the Internet when it was inefficient for a company to hunt down all the specialized legal talent it might need. But with the Internet, the model is changed, Dillon says."

If you work for a big law firm, I strongly recommend reading the entire post!


"Delegation Day in the Law Firm"

Found this interesting post at the morepartnerincome blog which is sponsored by Juris,Inc.:

"Hildebrandt’s Rees Morrison passes along a simple but clever technique for encouraging attorneys to improve efficiency by finding delegable tasks for non-lawyer members of the team.  The idea comes from the corporate world but should work to everyone’s benefit in a law firm as well. The law department asked its attorneys collectively to identify 20 activities that the lawyers were doing but that could be handed off to paralegals, administrative assistants or other support persons.

"The panelist sharing the law department’s experience noted that staff members were energized by the initiative. What attorneys were happy to hand off was refreshing and challenging to others.  Given the results, the department expanded its goal and accomplishments well beyond the original 20 activities."

Recommend reading this entire post "about how to do things better" by author Tom Collins, founder & former President of Juris, Inc.


"Orrick's Staffing Moves Pay Off -- Will Other Firms Follow?"

So, would you want to work in Wheeling, West Virginia? Read all about the separation of staff from lawyers in this article from The Recorder:

"When Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe announced it would move scores of support staff to a small industrial town in West Virginia, lawyers inside and out were skeptical of the quality of work and the return on investment.

"Five years later, the 980-lawyer firm says it's saved more than $20 million thanks to the Global Operations Center in Wheeling, W.Va. -- all without diminishing its services.

"But even with the purported success, most other large law firms still haven't jumped to copy it for themselves. Leaders say savings wouldn't be significant for their firms and the cost of splitting attorneys from staff would be too high [emphasis added].

"'We're not like a big corporation,' said Francis Milone, chair of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, which employs 1,300 lawyers. 'We depend very heavily on personal relationships between lawyers and staff [emphasis added], and it would be a very substantial change and disruption if we told people you either don't have a job or you can move to wherever.'

"Consultants say that law firms will eventually have to bite the bullet, especially with the ever-increasing cost of doing business, amplified by the recent round of associate salary hikes.

[snip]

"The firm hung its "O" on the old Wheeling Stamping building in the spring of 2002 and fielded more than 6,000 applications for 73 positions [emphasis added]. Now with 160 employees, the around-the-clock center handles everything from computer network management and help desk services to billing and collections as well as library services, human resources administration and marketing research. Most recently, the firm even added paralegals to the mix [emphasis added]."

Really, what do you think about working in an office described as, "No lawyers practice here, just those who support them"?


"The Data Boom: Can Law Firms Profit?"

Yeah, oh, yeah! Read how in this Legal Technology article about how MoFo responded when a small client was hit with a huge discovery request:

"In the fall of 2005, a small Israeli technology startup came to San Francisco's Morrison & Foerster with a lawsuit -- and, soon enough, a problem.

[snip]

"The stakes weren't particularly high -- just a few million dollars. But after the case was filed, the defendant hit back with an electronic discovery request -- every relevant e-mail, Microsoft Word file, spreadsheet, you name it -- so onerous that its cost alone would take a fair chunk of any judgment.

"'We saw that it was going to take several hundred thousand dollars to do this,' says Oz Benamram, director of knowledge management and Israel practice counsel at MoFo. In fact, there was nothing terribly unique about this situation. As more correspondence and information is stored electronically, e-discovery is requiring more time, and more dollars, than ever before.

"What was different was MoFo's solution. Realizing that the standard way of reviewing documents -- having teams of associates, or lower-priced contract attorneys, sift through anything that could be relevant, deciding what was responsive and had to be turned over, and what was privileged and needed to be kept -- wasn't going to cut it, the firm suggested a radical approach: automate almost everything."

Be sure to read the PROFIT CENTER? section at the very end of this article.


"Law firms looking for help"

Good news for job-hunting paralegals in this Philadelphia news article which cites a Robert Half Legal survey:

"Despite the old joke asking what 1 million lawyers at the bottom of the ocean represent (answer: a good start), a recent national survey found that law firms and corporate legal departments actually need more attorneys.

"California-based staffing service Robert Half Legal recently found 94 percent of the 300 U.S. and Canadian lawyers they surveyed said the size of their companies will stay the same or increase in the next 12 months. Almost half plan to hire additional lawyers, paralegals or other professionals.

"The biggest needs are in the fields of corporate governance, intellectual property and litigation, said Maura Mann, manager of training and development for Robert Half Legal's northeast region."


Former paralegal now director of law firm recruiting

Do you have good staff recruiting skills? Ever thought about a job in legal recruiting? This NJ Courier News article might provide inspiration:

"Norris McLaughlin & Marcus P.A. has announced that Victoria A. Martignetti has joined the firm as director of recruiting.

"A resident of Warren, Martignetti has more than 10 years experience working in large New Jersey law firms, most recently as recruitment coordinator at Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis LLP. She has extensive experience directing summer associate programs, conducting interviews and managing lateral hiring processes. Before serving as recruitment coordinator, she was a litigation paralegal for a New Jersey law firm."

I like this upward career path!


"Preparing to Survive a Dead-End Job"

This LawJobs.com career advancement article is directed to associate attorneys, but I think the advice applies equally well to paralegals:

"The harsh reality is that sometimes a job just doesn't work out. This can happen to anyone -- it often does. Recognizing the signs early on and being prepared for change are key elements necessary for a rapid recovery.

"There are two entities that can determine whether one has landed in a dead-end job. The first is the firm that will not promote an associate -- for whatever reason. The second is the associate who is unhappy -- also for whatever reason.

[snip]

"People who maintain a responsible approach to managing their own careers are quick to establish guidelines that they can use to evaluate their current situations and to assess whether they are on the right course to meeting their short- and long-term goals. The same guidelines can be used to assess the potential of new positions offered. The following are some of the factors to consider...."

Reading the complete article is highly recommended, even if you're happy with your current position.

Author Carrie Printz, an attorney, is the founder and managing director of David Carrie LLC, a full-service legal search firm specializing in career counseling and the placement of attorneys in the United States and throughout the world.