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Your complete guide to law office management careers and education
Good law office management is behind every successful law office. Law office administrators direct and coordinate the activities of a law firm or legal department, including the planning, organization, and direction of their department.
Some law office managers actually perform the same functions as legal secretaries, legal assistants, and paralegals, and are paralegals in everything but name. They can also become paralegals with some additional paralegal training.
4 steps to become a law office manager
Earn your associate degree in legal office management.
You may be able to enter the field with other office administration experience, but the go-to degree is a 2-year associate in law office management, where you’ll learn administrative and organizational skills and office technologies and software programs. Specific to the legal industry you’ll also take classes in criminal law, business law, accounting, legal document writing and legal office procedures.
Get work experience.
You can apply for internship programs where you’ll become familiar with legal professionals in your area. After earning your degree you may be able to join professional organizations, which offer the opportunity to learn more about the legal profession and present networking opportunities. Organizations such as the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) offer professional assistance through webinars, conferences and networking gatherings.
Find a job as a law office manager.
Your internship or networking experience could pay off when seeking a job, but it may be wise to look outside the box and not only consider legal firms, but places where legal administration may also be needed, such as hospitals, schools, non-profits and government agencies.
Earn your professional certification.
Earning professional certification allows employers to see how proficient you are in your role, and may be key to presenting advancement opportunities later on. Credentials are not required for law office managers and administrators but may help you in your employment. The ALA offers the Certified Legal Manager (CLM) credential program, which demonstrates you have “mastered the knowledge, skills and abilities to operate at a high level of expertise in the field of legal management.” They offer the certification exam twice each year.
There is a lot of opportunity in law office management. Administrators work in law firms, legal departments, or governmental agencies and private corporations. They often do support work for lawyers, legal secretaries, legal assistants, or paralegals. Law office management is often a first step into these related fields.
Law office managers play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of a law office. Their responsibilities may include:
- Overseeing salaries and benefits
- Handling budgets
- Billing and collections
- Managing staff and facilities
- Maintaining the library and office records
- Recruiting attorneys
- Doing legal research
- Coordinating client marketing
Education and training
While there are no academic requirements for entry into the field of law office management, taking a 2-year associate’s degree program or a 1-to-2 semester certificate program in law office management or public administration will help you prepare for the complexities of legal practice.
Most programs cover these areas:
- Management principles and concepts
- Legal terminology
- Human resource management
- Supervisory techniques
- Managing financial resources
- Legal ethics
Salaries for law office managers
Law office managers are part of the larger field of administrative services managers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics, the median national annual salary for administrative services managers is $103,330. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience, and a variety of other factors.
Median Salary: $103,330
Projected job growth: 5.6%
10th Percentile: $59,070
25th Percentile: $78,490
75th Percentile: $135,200
90th Percentile: $178,870
Projected job growth: 5.6%
|State||Median Salary||Bottom 10%||Top 10%|
|District of Columbia||$121,060||$77,780||$183,540|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.