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Practical Law Office Management 4e Cynthia Traina Donnes

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Practical Law Office Management 4e Cynthia Traina Donnes

Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank to Accompany

Practical Law Office Management


Cynthia Traina Donnes, MA


PREFACE………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… iv

SAMPLE SYLLABUS…………………………………………………………………………………………………………… v

CHAPTER 1 The Legal Team, Law Practices, and Law Firm Governance……………………………… 1

CHAPTER 2 Legal Administration and Technology…………………………………………………………… 15

CHAPTER 3 Ethics and Malpractice………………………………………………………………………………… 30

CHAPTER 4 Client Relations and Communication Skills……………………………………………………. 43

CHAPTER 5 Legal Fees, Timekeeping, and Billing……………………………………………………………. 52

CHAPTER 6 Client Trust Funds and Law Office Accounting……………………………………………… 66

CHAPTER 7 Calendaring, Docket Control, and Case Management……………………………………… 79

CHAPTER 8 Legal Marketing…………………………………………………………………………………………. 89

CHAPTER 9 File and Law Library Management……………………………………………………………….. 97

TEST BANK…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 106

TEST BANK ANSWER KEY……………………………………………………………………………………………. 152


This manual provides you with information that I hope you will find useful in the classroom. This is not an armchair-style text. Theoretical information is kept to an absolute minimum. The text is practical in nature and focuses on the law office management skills paralegals need to succeed in a legal organization. The text covers a broad range of subjects and includes a heavy emphasis on hands-on technology. Student learning is enhanced through On the Web Exercises, Projects, Practical Applications, Test Your Knowledge questions, and Case Review exercises. The text continues to have a strong emphasis on ethics, the importance of clients and customer service, the delivery of high-quality and competent legal services, case management/docket control, timekeeping and billing, and client trust funds, among others. Practical suggestions and insights are contained throughout the book. The fourth edition features significant changes, including:

  • Material has been updated to reflect current management practices and technological advances.
  • Discussion of Clio, law office demonstration software, has been added. Clio is a web-based software product that includes time and billing, client trust funds, law office accounting, case management, docketing, and more. Clio Hands-On Exercises have been added throughout the textbook.
  • Updated “Hands-On Exercises” for Microsoft Excel 2013 have been added to Chapters 5 and 6. Eight exercises for Excel are provided.
  • Ethics and chapter-related cases were updated. Many of the cases include paralegals in their fact patterns. Most of the cases are extremely interesting, are on point, and provide excellent teaching and learning opportunities.
  • The textbook covers technological advances and the impact on law office management.
  • All of the charts and tables have been updated.

This manual provides answers to the Test Your Knowledge and Practical Applications questions for each chapter. Some answers for the On the Web Exercises and Projects sections may not be included, given the nature of the questions.

If you have suggestions for how to improve the text, need something special developed, need additional help or information, or just have a question, please feel free to contact me.

Best Wishes,

Cynthia Traina Donnes


A sample syllabus for a 15-week semester and a 10-week quarter are included. Instructors teach law office management in many different ways. Each chapter stands on its own and does not require or rely on the chapters before it. So, an instructor is free to skip around and present the course in the order he or she feels is best.

Course Description

This course covers the fundamentals of law office management. This course is designed to familiarize the paralegal with the practical inner workings of a law office, including an understanding of law office procedures. Law office management goes beyond mere efficiency and productivity, and includes being sensitive to ethical concerns and providing quality legal services to clients in an affordable manner.

Course Objectives

  1. Introduce the student to the workings and management of a law office.
  2. Prepare the student for what a paralegal is expected to accomplish administratively once on the job.
  3. Review the types of law offices, staff positions/legal teams, and possible office structures in different types of law offices.
  4. Educate the student on common ethical and malpractice problems for attorneys and paralegals, and how to avoid or handle the concerns/problems.
  5. Explain the importance of legal fees, timekeeping, billing, and client trust funds in a law office.
  6. Explain the importance of docket control/case management and its relationship to malpractice, ethics, and providing quality services to clients.
  7. Introduce the broad concepts of law office management/administration, including the delivery of a quality product, the provision of outstanding customer-service-focused legal services to clients, law library management, file management, and so forth.
  8. Introduce the student to legal marketing.
  9. Provide the student with hands-on technology-focused exercises, software, and projects to allow the student to use and apply learned information about law office management.


Week Topic
1 Chapter 1—The Legal Team, Law Practices, and Law Firm Governance
2 Chapter 2—Legal Administration and Technology
3 Wrap up Legal Administration and Technology
4 Chapter 3—Ethics and Malpractice
5 Wrap up Ethics and Malpractice
6 Chapter 4—Clients and Communication Skills
7 Chapter 5—Legal Fees, Timekeeping, and Billing
8 Hands-On Exercises —Clio (Time and Billing)

Hands-On Exercises —Microsoft Excel (Time and Billing)

Wrap up Timekeeping and Billing

9 Chapter 6—Client Trust Funds and Law Office Accounting
 10 Hands-On Exercises—Clio (Client Trust Funds and Bill Paying)
 11 Hands-On Exercises—Microsoft Excel (Client Trust Funds and Budgeting)
 12 Chapter 7—Calendaring, Docket Control, and Case Management
 13 Hands-On Exercises—Clio (Case Management and Docket Control)
 14 Chapter 8—Legal Marketing
 15 Chapter 9—File and Law Library Management
 15 Project Due (optional)


This text can be covered in 10 weeks. Your students will need to do some independent reading and some work outside of class.

  • Chapter 1—The Legal Team, Law Practices, and Law Firm Governance
  • Chapter 2—Legal Administration and Technology
  • Chapter 3—Ethics and Malpractice
  • Chapter 4—Clients and Communication Skills
  • Chapter 5—Legal Fees, Timekeeping, and Billing
  • Chapter 6—Client Trust Funds and Law Office Accounting
  • Chapter 7—Calendaring, Docket Control, and Case Management
  • Chapter 8—Legal Marketing
  • Chapter 9—File and Law Library Management
  • Project Due (optional)



Chapter 1 sets the stage for the rest of the text. It explains what types of positions and people there are in a law practice, including basic information about practicing paralegals. The chapter is full of current surveys and research regarding what paralegals do on the job, what types of firms they practice in, who typically supervises them, what the ratio of paralegals to attorneys is in different-size firms, compensation, and overtime. The chapter also gives students an understanding of what type of law practices exist, along with the different legal and management structures for law offices.


After reading this chapter, the student should be able to:

  • Discuss the titles and duties of each member of the legal team.
  • Explain the trends in paralegal salaries.
  • Discuss the different types of law practices.
  • Identify alternative law office organizational structures.


I. The Legal Team

The legal team consists of attorneys, administrators, law clerks, librarians, paralegals, secretaries, clerks, and other parties (Exhibit 1-1).

A. Attorneys

Attorneys counsel clients regarding their legal rights, represent clients in litigation, and negotiate agreements between clients and others.


  1. Partner/Shareholder—A partner or shareholder is an owner in a private law practice who shares in its profits and losses.
    1. Managing Partner—A managing partner is chosen by the partnership to run the firm, make administrative decisions, and set policies.
  2. Associate Attorneys—An associate attorney does not have an ownership interest in the law firm and does not share in the profits. The associate is an employee of the firm who receives a salary and has no vote regarding management decisions. a. Lateral Hire—A lateral hire is an associate who is hired from another firm.
    1. Nonequity Partner—A nonequity partner does not share in the profits or losses of the business but may be included in some aspects of the management of the firm, and may be entitled to other benefits not given to associates.
    2. Staff Attorney—A staff attorney is an attorney hired by a firm with the knowledge and understanding that he or she will never be considered for partnership.
    3. Contract Attorney—A contract attorney is an associate attorney who is temporarily hired by the law office for a specific job or period. When the job or period is finished, the relationship with the firm is over.
  3. “Of Counsel”—The “of counsel” position is a flexible concept but generally means that the attorney is affiliated with the firm in some way, such as a retired or semiretired partner. “Of counsel” attorneys lend their names to a firm for goodwill and prestige purposes, in order to attract additional clients and business to the firm.
B. Legal Administrators

Legal administrators are responsible for some types of law office administrative systems, such as general management, finance and accounting, human resources, marketing, or computer systems (see Exhibit 1-2, Legal Administrator Job Description). Administrators typically have college degrees in business, accounting, or related fields.

C. Paralegals

Exhibit 1-3 contains side-by-side definitions of a paralegal/legal assistant that are consistent with the American Bar Association (ABA) definition and found under the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA), National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), and American Association for Paralegal Education (AAfPE).

The ABA offers a paralegal section and membership options. It also provides stated guidelines for educational institutions wanting to obtain ABA accreditation for its programs. The ABA’s goal is to ensure that well-qualified paralegals, those with proper training and supervision, can be delegated work that would otherwise have to be done by a lawyer.

  1. Paralegal—Paralegals are a distinguishable group of persons who assist attorneys in the delivery of legal services. Through formal education, training, and experience, paralegals have knowledge and expertise regarding the legal system,

and substantive and procedural law, which qualifies them to do work of a legal nature under the supervision of an attorney.

  1. Freelance or Contract Paralegal—A freelance or contract paralegal works as an independent contractor with supervision by and/or accountability to an attorney.
  2. Independent Paralegal or Legal Technician—Independent paralegals or legal technicians provide services to clients in regard to a process in which the law is involved, and for whose work no lawyer is accountable. Legal technicians assist in providing “self-help services to the public.”
  3. Limited License Legal Technician—A limited license legal technician, in states where legislation has been passed, is a person qualified by education, training, and work to engage in the limited practice of law in the approved practice area as per the state’s laws. In 2013 Washington passed legislation allowing nonattorneys, under carefully regulated circumstances, with specialized training and certification to practice law in a limited capacity (Washington State Rule 28— Limited Practice Rule for Limited License Legal Technicians). Other states such as California and Oregon have formed task forces to consider the adoption of Limited License Legal Technician.
  4. Paralegal Manager—In larger legal organizations, a paralegal manager may oversee the paralegal program for the organization, including hiring, supervising, training, and evaluating paralegals.
  5. Exhibit 1-7 shows survey data regarding typical daily functions of paralegals. Exhibit 1-8 shows survey data on typical paralegal specialty practices. Exhibit 19 shows survey data regarding the types of practices in which paralegals work, the size of firms in which paralegals work, who supervises paralegals, and the ratio of attorneys to paralegals in different-sized law firms. Exhibit 1-10 shows compensation data for paralegals. Exhibit 1-11 shows the percentage of law firms paying overtime to paralegals.
  6. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—The FLSA is a federal law that sets minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for employees. Employees do not need to be paid overtime if they fall into one of the four “white-collar” exemptions: executive, administrative, professional, or outside sales. If an employee is “exempt,” he or she is not required to be paid overtime wages (e.g., wages for time spent in excess of 40 hours a week). The issue of whether paralegals are classified as “exempt” is hotly debated.

The U.S. Department of Labor, which administers the FLSA, has long taken the position that paralegals are “nonexempt” and are entitled to overtime pay over 40 hours a week because their “duties do not involve the exercise of discretion and independent judgment required by the regulations,” and that they do not fall into the learned-profession exemption because “an advanced specialized degree is not a standard prerequisite for entry into the field” (because there are many two-year associate degree paralegal programs). The Department of Labor’s position has been widely criticized for the ruling because it fails to take into account the recent practice and utilization of the recognized status of the profession, advanced education, continuing legal education, substantive duties performed, and the degree to which a paralegal exercises discretion and independent judgment in the performance of the job. In one 1994 case, Reich v. Page & Addison, P.C. (Case No. 3:91-CV-2655 in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division), a jury found that paralegals at the Page & Addison law firm were exempt from overtime requirements; nevertheless, the Department of Labor did not change its general position on the matter.

  1. In Missouri v. Jenkins, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the plaintiff to recover paralegal fees from the defendant at the prevailing market rate for paralegals in the area. Because the Court was interpreting a federal statute, courts under a different statute may reach a different conclusion. Since Missouri v. Jenkins, many federal and state courts have allowed for the recovery of paralegal billable hours.
  2. Paralegals are profitable to law offices because the law office is allowed to charge for the paralegal’s time. Clients are willing to pay for paralegal time, because their billing rate is substantially less than what an attorney would charge to do the same work.
D. Office Managers

An office manager is found in smaller firms and handles the day-to-day operations of the law office, including such activities as timekeeping and billing, supervision of the clerical support staff, assisting the managing partner in preparing a budget, and making recommendations with regard to changes in systems and purchases. Office managers typically do not have degrees in business.

E. Law Clerks

A law clerk is usually a student who works for a law firm on a part-time basis while he or she is finishing a law degree. Law clerk duties revolve around legal research and writing.

F. Law Librarians

A law librarian is responsible for maintaining a law library, conducting legal research, advising legal professionals regarding research techniques, and managing library resources. Maintenance includes purchasing new books and periodicals; classifying, storing, and indexing books; updating the holdings; and coordinating computer-assisted legal research (e.g., Westlaw, LexisNexis, and other services).

G. Legal Secretaries

Legal secretaries or administrative assistants provide assistance and support to other law office staff by preparing documents, composing correspondence, performing word processing and filing functions, and aiding in the scheduling of appointments. Competent legal secretaries have highly specialized skills and perform many services for law firms.

H. Clerks

Clerks provide support to other staff positions in a variety of miscellaneous functions. Law offices have a wide variety of clerks, including mail clerks, copy clerks, messengers, process servers, file clerks, calendar clerks, and billing clerks.

I. Other Legal Team Members
  1. Expert Witness—An expert witness is a person who has technical expertise in a specific field and agrees to give opinions and testimony at trial.
  2. Investigator—Investigators are hired in cases to gather facts and evidence regarding a case.
  3. Consultants—Law offices use consultants for advice on how to run their businesses efficiently.
  4. Temporary/Permanent Staffing Firms—Law offices may use temporary or permanent staffing firms and may outsource projects or services as needed, including copying, mail, record management, and others.
  5. Specialists—Law offices may use a number of specialists, such as computer specialists, bookkeepers, records managers, payroll specialists, and analysts (in large firms) such as biologists, chemists, and other experts.
II. Types of Law Practices
A. Corporate Law Practice
  1. Some businesses, including large corporations, banks, retailers, manufacturers, transportation companies, publishers, insurance companies, and hospitals, have their own in-house law departments.
  2. Corporate law departments handle a variety of legal concerns in such areas as labor relations, federal tax law, environmental law, Securities and Exchange Commission filings, general litigation, employee benefits, real estate law, and workers’ compensation claims.
  3. The general counsel is the chief attorney for the corporate legal department.
B. Government Practice
  1. There are many types of government law practices, including law departments for agencies, district attorneys, city attorneys, attorney generals, and U.S. attorneys, to name a few.
C. Legal Services/Aid Office (Legal Clinic or Public Law Office)
  1. A legal services/aid/clinic office is a not-for-profit law office that receives grants from the government and private donations to pay for representation of disadvantaged persons who otherwise could not afford legal services.
  2. Legal services/aid offices typically represent persons in areas relating to child support, child custody, disability claims, bankruptcies, landlord disputes, and mental health problems, among others.
D. Private Law Practice

According to the American Bar Association, there were 1.3 million attorneys in 2012. Exhibit 1-14 shows the percentage of attorneys by practice type/size of firm. Note: These are great statistics and are highly recommended for review.

  1. Sole Practitioner—A sole practitioner is an attorney who individually owns and manages a practice. Sole practitioners are typically generalists, meaning they handle a wide variety of cases such as probate, family law, criminal law, and personal injury.
  2. Small Law Firms
  3. The small firm has fewer than 20 attorneys.
  4. A small law office that specializes in only one or two areas of the law is sometimes called a “boutique firm.”
  5. Medium-Size Firms
    1. The medium-size firm usually has between 20 and 75 attorneys.
    2. Medium-size firms are usually organized into subject-area departments and have professional administrators.
  6. Large Firms
    1. The large firm has between 75 and several hundred attorneys.
    2. Large firms have practice groups or departments such as antitrust, bankruptcy, environmental, estate planning, intellectual property, international, labor/employment, litigation, patents/ trademarks/copyright, property, and tax, to name a few.
    3. The internal structure of large firms is more similar to the structure of business corporations than to other types of law firms.
    4. Large firms usually employ a large number of paralegals.
  7. Megafirms—Megafirms can have a thousand or more attorneys.
  8. Plaintiff/Defense Firms
    1. Many private law practices may categorize themselves as either plaintiff or defense firms.
    2. Plaintiff-oriented firms represent clients who bring claims against others. They tend to be smaller than defense-oriented firms, are generally not as well funded as defense firms, and have fewer employees.
    3. Defense-oriented firms have the luxury of billing defendants who are typically businesses. This gives defense-oriented firms a more stable cash flow, enabling them to hire more personnel, purchase advanced equipment, and spend more on litigation services such as hiring expert witnesses and taking as many depositions as needed.
  9. Mergers and Acquisitions
    1. Law firm mergers are commonplace in the legal industry. There are different reasons for firms to merge, but some of the strategies are related to growth and survival. When a merger takes place, questions regarding conflicts of interest can be a problem, as well as cultural differences, staffing issues, and political power struggles, among others.
  10. Geographic Service Areas
    1. In the past, law firms usually practiced in a single location. That is not necessarily the case any longer.
    2. The Internet, computer networks that tie offices together, and large multiple-office law firms have changed this.
    3. Many firms have a geographic service area strategy, which may include being local, statewide, regional/multistate, national, international, or industry specific.
 III. Law Practice Organization Structures
A. Legal Forms of Private Law Firms
  1. Sole Proprietorship—In a sole proprietorship, the proprietor—in this case, an attorney—runs the business, personally receives all profits, and is personally responsible for all losses and liabilities of the law office. A sole proprietorship is a legal structure and should not be confused with a sole practitioner. A sole practitioner, for instance, does not have to use the sole proprietorship form of legal structure.
  2. Partnership—The partnership legal structure allows two or more attorneys to associate themselves together and to share in the profits or losses of the business. All the partners are jointly and severally liable for the actions of the firm and for the debts of the partnership.
  3. Professional Corporation—The professional corporation legal structure allows a single shareholder or group of shareholders from the same profession, such as attorneys, to share in the outcomes of a business. Unlike a partnership, in which partners are liable for the debts of the partnership, shareholders are not personally liable for the debts of the corporation.
  4. Limited Liability Company—The limited liability company is a legal structure recognized by 30 states that allows for limited personal liability of company debts for owners, but is treated like a partnership for tax purposes.
B. Private Law Firm Management Structures
  1. The Powerful Managing Partner—The powerful managing partner management structure is one in which a single partner is responsible for managing the firm. The managing partner is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the partnership, and partners vote on major firm decisions. The powerful managing partner structure is autocratic, in that power rests with one person.
  2. Rule by All Partners/Shareholders—Rule by all partners/shareholders is a management structure in which all partners/shareholders are included in decisions that affect the firm. This is a democratic structure.
  3. Rule by Management Committee/Board—The rule by management committee/board management structure uses a committee structure to make management decisions for the firm. Common committees include the library committee, automation committee, finance committee, and personnel committee.
C. Corporate, Government, and Legal Aid Organization Structures
  1. Corporate law departments are either centralized, meaning the office is located in the corporate headquarters and provides services to the whole company, or are decentralized, with separate attorneys located throughout the organization.
  2. Many government practices are decentralized, with each agency having its own legal department.
  3. Legal aid practices, because they are usually nonprofit corporations, are overseen by a board of directors. The board of directors hires an executive director to operate the organization.


For students who are new to law offices and the legal industry, this is a particularly important chapter because it introduces them to all of the players in the legal team. If possible, you may want to include personal examples of your interaction with others on the legal team and explain their functions in real, practical ways. This chapter also touches on important topics such as the roles and responsibilities of the paralegal and the different types of law practices and structures. Many students will be unfamiliar with corporate, government, and legal services/aid practices, so you might want to provide examples of some of these within your area that you have had experience with.

  1. Use the opening example at the beginning of the chapter to discuss the fierce competition that law firms of all sizes are currently faced with, and the need of firms to focus on law office management and client satisfaction. The example also shows that good management is necessary for the survival of any legal organization, and that even when there are problems, there are management solutions available to solve them.
  2. Discuss the “legal team” concept, and how important each member of the legal team is for providing quality legal services to clients and how no one individual or person is greater than the team.
  3. Discuss the concept of administrators, and how they differ from office managers. Provide examples of the millions of dollars that law offices spend on marketing efforts, management consultants, technology, human resources, and training and development to better manage and promote their firms. Administrators have had a substantial impact on the legal profession and have made the management side of a law office almost as important as the substantive side of practicing law.
  4. Students will be interested in your paralegal background, including what your roles and responsibilities have been as a legal professional and how you generally view the paralegal profession, so let them know about yourself with personal insight and stories.
  5. Some students will inquire about the difference between legal secretaries and paralegals. It might be helpful to point out the “team concept” here and to stress that both have their own roles and responsibilities, and are different from each other. Explain that there is friction between legal secretaries and paralegals from time to time.
  6. Point out the differences, from your own unique view, between private practice, corporate practice, government, and legal aid/clinic practices as a paralegal or utilizing paralegals. An alternative would be to invite a corporate, government, or legal aid/clinic paralegal to talk to your class and discuss how his or her office operates, and how it is different from a private law office. Another alternative would be to require that each student interview a corporate paralegal, government paralegal, or paralegal/legal assistant in a different specialty. You could also have students interview an attorney regarding how his or her law office uses paralegals, and what type of management structure is used.
  7. Discuss the internal and cultural differences between how small firms, medium-size firms, and large law firms operate, from your own experience. You may also want to distinguish between the different types of internal management structures, regarding how decisions are made between them. You may also want to discuss the difference between plaintiff- and defense-oriented firms, and explain how mergers are relatively common in the legal industry.
  8. Discuss how private law offices have drastically changed over the last 20 years, going from being local in nature to having to define their geographic service area and strategy— including either being local, statewide, regional/multistate, nationwide, international, or industry specific. Describe how the Internet, technology, and national/international firms have changed this.
  9. It may be interesting for students to read about how the legal profession has changed since the early 1970s. There are several magazines and Web sites, such as the American Bar Association’s Web site, that provide articles on this topic. An article in the July/August 2004 issue of Law Practice provided some interesting comparisons between the number of lawyers, the consumer views of lawyers, the practice as a whole, and the inclusion of other professions and technology. A few noteworthy points from the article along with current updates from ABA statistics on lawyer population and U.S. Census Bureau are listed in the accompanying table.


1970s 1990s 2000s–2015
Fewer than 500,000 lawyers Between 750,000 and 1 million lawyers  1 million to over 1.3 million lawyers
One lawyer for every 430 people based on average population of 215 million Average of 1 lawyer for every 300, people based on average

population of 265 million

One lawyer for every 262 people, based on average population of 301 million
Lawyer-to-secretary ratio of 1:1 Lawyer-to-secretary ratio of 3:1 Lawyer-to-secretary ratio of as much as 4:1
Lawyer-to-paralegal ratio— paralegals seldom used Lawyers-to-paralegal ratio of 4:1 to 5:1 when utilized
Lawyer-to-paralegal ratio can range from 4:1 to 9:1, depending on firm size

© 2017 Cengage Learning®.

  1. The following are some interesting trends in the legal industry related to this chapter:
    • Mergers and consolidations continue to occur regularly.
    • Globalization is a major factor in the U.S. legal industry. It was reported that 36 of the top 250 law firms in the country now have offices in China.
  1. The Sushi Memo—The New York Times published an article in October 2003 about a threepage memo that was written by a New York City paralegal to her attorney, a partner, regarding the quality of sushi restaurants in New York City. The law firm has nearly 500 attorneys, and the partner wanted to know what options were available because he received a mediocre order at a sushi restaurant. The memo was controversial in the paralegal community, because it was argued that the attorney was misusing the paralegal’s time; the memo stated in part:

As requested, please find below selected alternatives for ordering sushi in midtown New York City. The alternatives have been categorized into two distinct groups: (i) those available on Seamless Web Professional Solutions (“Seamless Web”) and (ii) other sushi restaurants from which delivery to PWRW&G LLP’s office is available.

Most restaurants in the area claim to receive fish deliveries daily. However, I have learned that Mondays should be avoided, as fresh fish is generally delivered on Tuesdays. While a few of the restaurants included on Seamless Web offer what might be called “quality” sushi, their quality is clearly not comparable to the sushi available from some of the top-notch restaurants in New York City. . . .

The question is whether this is a regular type of abuse of paralegals or a simple aberration. You may be able to use this as a teaching tool to discuss which kinds of assignments are proper, and what paralegals can or should do about improper assignments.


  1. A partner/shareholder is an owner of the law firm, whereas an associate is an employee of the firm and does not share in its profits or losses.
  2. Equity
  3. Manage or run the operation of the law firm
  4. An associate attorney
  5. Ten
  6. Nonequity
  7. Contract attorney
  8. Counsel
  9. Medium, large
  10. General management, finance and accounting, human resources, marketing, and computer systems
  11. True
  12. Paralegals
  13. Freelance/contract paralegals
  14. True
  15. False
  16. True
  17. Nonexempt
  18. The Unites States Supreme Court recognized that paralegals could bill for their time at the prevailing market rate.
  19. Smaller
  20. Private, government, legal services/aid, corporate
  21. General counsel
  22. Legal services/aid office
  23. Private
  24. Boutique
  25. Professional corporate, partnership, limited liability company
  26. Managing partner or powerful managing partner
  27. Managing partner, rule by all partners/shareholders, rule by management committee


  1. In Joerger v. Gordon Food Services, Inc., 224 Mich. App. 167, 568 N.W.2d 365 (Mich. App., Jun 13, 1997), the court was interpreting a specific state statute regarding what types of legal fees were recoverable. The court found that neither the statute nor court rule specifically allowed for the recovery of paralegal fees (even though there was recovery for attorney fees), so the court did not allow recovery. It is an interesting case, and even though the court found against recovery, the court does a nice job of stating both sides of the argument and recognizing that many other courts and states allow for recovery of paralegal time.
  2. The paralegal may want to approach Pat privately, and at a time when Pat is not swamped with other work (if possible). The paralegal may explain that his or her supervising attorney has specifically instructed him or her that he or she is not to do administrative/clerical work, and that these tasks are to be given to her. The paralegal should try to negotiate a mutually convenient time for the work to be finished, as well. In addition, the paralegal should tell Pat that he or she wants to be a team player, and that if Pat has something that she needs help with from time to time, and as long as it does not interfere with a major deadline, he or she will be happy to assist Pat.
  3. This is a personal decision that each paralegal has to make.
  4. This assignment should be graded on how well the student followed the directions and the quality of the writing.


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