A law office is a legal company formed by one or more qualified attorneys to conduct the specialized practice of law. The primary function rendered by a legal office is to advise individuals about their legal obligations and rights, as well as to help them resolve disputes or disagreements that may arise between themselves or with third parties. Many legal offices employ several other types of staff members, such as a paralegal, and other professionals who are engaged in other duties. For this reason, the size and structure of the office are a critical factor in deciding the success of any given law firm or legal practice.
A large law office usually contains several sections devoted to a variety of legal services. It may also include legal secretaries, receptionists, office managers, bookkeepers, and other support staff. A legal office typically has several departments:
Law Firms – This is the section of any law firm that conducts and pursues cases. Attorneys are charged with representing their clients in court, making legal filings, and helping to prepare motions and appeals. In most instances, law firms are very large and may operate out of an enormous building. Most law firms have dozens of attorneys, as well as a large number of paralegals, stenographers, computer programmers, and other support staff.
Paralegals – These professionals work for both individual and corporate clients and are employed by law firms. Paralegals typically work under contract with law firms and are responsible for assisting attorneys during the drafting of documents, preparation of pleadings, and correspondence, and preparation of client schedules. Many paralegals also carry out clerical duties in law firms. Paralegals are typically not paid by the hour, but often receive bonuses on a percentage basis.
Bookkeepers – Bookkeeping duties are very important for law offices. While legal offices are generally separate from the firm where the litigation takes place, bookkeepers are often part of the law firms' legal departments and must be responsible for keeping accurate records of all client correspondence. Bookkeepers also help to maintain the financial records of the law firms, which can provide valuable evidence of the financial condition of the firm.
Law offices are typically very expensive to operate and require a large amount of staff to manage. However, some law firms operate at full capacity while maintaining a low overhead. Because most law firms have complex legal issues and procedures to follow, the law office must provide extensive training to the staff to ensure that all of its employees are up-to-date with all of the law firms' regulations and procedures.