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A managing attorney is someone who helps run a law firm. Managing attorneys generally must have spent time as attorneys in the firm before being promoted into a supervisory position. They are typically referred to as “partners,” joining others in running the firm. While some managing attorneys continue to handle legal issues, they are mostly responsible for hiring, supervising and advising other lawyers, or associates. They are some of the highest-paid people in the American workforce.
Managing attorneys are responsible for their firm's accounting and cash flow, and for motivating associates and other partners. Those in smaller firms will also continue to practice law via trials and settlements. Meanwhile, managing attorneys in larger firms are responsible for larger tasks, such as recruiting and advising clients and associates, and assigning attorneys to various cases. But the primary duty of a managing attorney is to run his law firm just like any other business, making sure everyone is doing his part to benefit the company’s bottom line.
A managing attorney must be confident, driven, professional, organized and analytical. She needs to own exceptional written and oral communication skills, as she interacts with everyone from other partners to associates to law enforcement officials to judges to clients on a frequent basis. She also should possess strong mathematical skills, enabling her to keep track of profitability and find ways to enhance finances. Managing attorneys also need to feel comfortable delegating responsibility and getting members of their firms to operate as a team.
Managing attorneys must possess a four-year bachelor’s degree, along with a three-year law degree. They also have to pass a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to get into law school, and a written test, called a bar exam, in whichever state they aim to become a licensed attorney. Once qualified, lawyers must spend some time as associates before being considered for a position as a managing partner. They are chosen for a management position by other partners.
Jobs for attorneys are projected to grow by 13 percent during the 2008-18 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That is about as fast as average for all occupations. While the BLS provided no firm data on the outlook of managing attorneys, their prospects are likely to increase at a similar rate to the industry as a whole.
Managing attorneys earned from $140,000 to more than $193,000 per year in November 2009, according to Salary.com. The median salary for a managing attorney during that same month was $166,319, Salary.com reported.