If you're searching for a lawyer and do not have much experience in this area you may be wondering who you will deal with. A variety of different people work in a typical Australian law office (like Preston Law). Get to know who they are and what they do. It will be beneficial for you to become more informed and figure out how these professionals can represent you.
Typical Makeup of a Law Office
- The owners of the law firm are usually referred to as partners. This is the top of the tree in the hierarchy and these individuals will bill the highest fees, as they are the most experienced lawyers.
- Other lawyers employed by this firm will generally be called associates. They may have less experience than the partners, but they are nevertheless excellent lawyers. Typically, the associate works with the business for up to 10 years before being elevated to the rank of partner.
- On occasion, the law firm will bring in outside specialists for part-time duties and these are referred to as contract lawyers.
- Special counsels, (sometimes known as "on-counsels,") have a specific affiliation with the business. Often they have an independent contractor relationship, but they may also have their own clients on the law office's books, under legacy. For example, they may be semi-retired, but have specific expertise or experience to bring to the table.
- Law clerks are typically going to law school or university, but are employed by the organisation to help with legal research and case assistance. Many law clerks go on to become lawyers in the host organisation.
- As lawyers research and prepare cases they will often have a paralegal at their side. They provide a very important role and have a good understanding of case law.
- Another layer of support staff is provided by the legal assistant. Again, these individuals are involved in detailed research and gathering of support information to help in a case.
- The legal assistant role is very different from that of a legal secretary. Distinctly, the secretary deals with the day-to-day affairs of the lawyer, scheduling meetings and court time and acting to keep everything on track. As you consider hiring a lawyer, it's good to know that they have a competent legal secretary to help them out.
- Many law firms hire investigators with the specific job of gathering information and evidence from the field.
- Behind the scenes will be various administrative personnel. Their roles include accounting, billing, human resources and bookkeeping.
- The largest firms will also have a raft of other personnel around the peripheries. For example, one individual may be engaged to act as a "runner," delivering and collecting important legal documents during the day.