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A case manager supports the work of attorneys in a law firm by managing case life cycles and doing other legal work like gathering details from clients and drawing up legal documents. They are paralegals as defined by The Association of Legal Assistants website: it says a paralegal works under the direction of an attorney and supports that attorney by doing substantive legal work. Also, according to the ALA, paralegals can qualify after formal training or from years of experience so a case manager as a paralegal doesn’t necessary need a college degree as long as they have the right experience for the role. The Degree Directory reports that case managers differ from legal secretaries because the later are usually restricted to purely administrative work.
A core responsibility for a case manager is document management. A case management job description for a Santa Ana Law firm specifies, that the successful candidate needs to create and maintain legal documents in the case management system and ensure all necessary updates are made by all stakeholders. Additionally, the case manager has to correspond with clients and must maintain a record of all correspondence, ensuring these records are updated and can be accessed by other authorized members of staff. All record changes must be tracked in the system as well. He will also have responsibility for weekly and monthly reports to his line manager and possibly senior partners.
The court schedule for a legal case can be very busy. According to the Cornell University Law School, it includes arraignment, pleas, pleadings and pretrial motions, depositions and discovery and many more stages. The case manager will be in charge of the calendar in the firm's case management system and must monitor the proceeding of each case and update the system at each juncture. This means all stakeholders in the office will be working to a litigation time frame and they must be made aware of any deadlines and alerted when they are approaching by the case manager.
Meeting with Clients
Another core competency for a legal case manager is meeting with clients. They will need to get critical information about the case from the client and establish a good professional relationship with them. In a profile of one of their case managers, a Washington State law firm stresses the importance of a case manager being tactful with clients and also, in a diverse society, sensitive to cultural differences. In many instances the case manager can be the first point of contact for the client and must make the right impression for the firm.
A case manager also has to become proficient with the technology and software tools developed to support the role. The software provides a central repository for all legal documents and correspondence as well as the schedule for all live litigation processes the firm is currently working on. He will be the administrator for this system and will work with senior partners and IT support on security policies and access rights. The automation of much of the case management process improves service delivery and with a diary system it can automate the resolution of diary conflicts.
- National Association of Legal Assistants: Definitions of "Paralegal"
- DegreeDirectory.org: What's the Difference Between Legal Assistant and Legal Secretary?
- Hirebridge: Bankruptcy Case Manager
- Jojari: Legal Case Manager in Little Rock, AR, USA.
- Cornell University Law School: Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
- Nelson Langer Engle PPLC: Case Managers and Staff
Currently working in Dublin, Michael Mageean started out writing for Belfast-based “Fortnight” magazine in 1998. Recently he has written for Verify Recruitment’s technology blog, newsletter and scripted Verify's radio show, "New Job Radio." He trained as a journalist with the London school of Journalism in 2012. He is a graduate of the University of Ulster.