In essence a Court Manager is responsible for overseeing the management, budget and personnel of a court to ensure the effective running of the facility. Day to day duties can involve presenting seminars, satisfying requests for information, providing leadership to the wider team and ensuring that the public has access to justice.
Whilst there is no fixed criteria for entering the profession and it is open to school leavers through various schemes, having a law or law and business degree would be of significant advantage. Those seeking a role as a Court Manager should be able to demonstrate excellent communication, organisation and presentation skills coupled with a strong customer focus and the ability to be flexible.
A Practice Manager is normally found in smaller firms and will provide a vital component to the business as they will free the partners up to focus on matters of law and business strategy.
Essentially a Practice Manager will oversee internal processes and policies as well as financial matters such as budgeting, financial controls and payroll. They will also typically be dealing with the development of business plans and strategies, providing day to day management of the practice.
Duties may include keeping up-to-date on compliance matters and ensuring that the firm adheres to them, as well as organising training seminars and handling initial recruitment. In a larger firm this is likely to be the responsibility of the Human Resources team.
There are a number of support functions within firms which are sometimes referred to as ‘Business Services’ of ‘Business Support’. These comprise support functions such as Human Resources, IT, Finance, Marketing, Business and Development and Facilities.
Human Resources are a vital department within any firm and they predominantly manage the employment relationship. Human Resources start the relationship by recruiting and attracting talent for the firm, they are also responsible for developing and managing employee performance (larger firms may have a separate Learning and Development and Reward function).
Human Resources ensure that all employees are dealt with consistently and have ownership of policies and processes such as absence management. The Human Resource function needs to be up to date with any changes in employment legislation which may affect the firm.
Human Resources also have the ability to motivate and reward employees, in addition potentially restructuring and aligning resources to meet current and future needs of the firm as well as developing talent for the future.
Human Resources roles tend to be at entry level as an Administrator leading to Officer, Manager and Director.
Information Technology supports the firm with relevant systems and hardware such as computers and telephones. They provide day to day support to all users in the firm, usually in the form of an ‘IT Helpdesk’ who assist with trouble shooting. Information Technology will also be responsible for the maintenance of such systems and will be involved in training as well as developing relevant software that the firm uses to fulfil its strategies.
There are many roles within Information Technology, usually starting with first line analysts such as manning an ‘IT Helpdesk’ again leading to Director status.
A Finance Team is important for the smooth operation of the firm. Their main function comprises the documentation and controlling of incoming and outgoing cash flows as well as the handling of such cash flows.
The Finance Team are also responsible for the payment of bills, invoices and expenses as well as budgeting and performance evaluation.
Financial accounting is delivered to stakeholders, banks and other financial institutions as to the financial health of the firm.
Again there are many roles within a Finance team, examples being cashiers, credit controllers, payroll manager and Director grade.
MARKETING AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
The Marketing and Business Development team are responsible for the marketing of the firm and they help identify and target potential clients. In addition the Marketing team typically assist with tenders, pitch documents, new business proposals, event management, competitor analysis and key account management.
Business profiles are very important and Marketing and Business Development assist with communication strategies as they have a commercial understanding and insight, ensuring the firm is able to continue to attract their clients. The Marketing and Business Development team would work very closely with stakeholders and Directors.
Typically the structure would be from administrator to executive to manager leading again up to Director grade.
Facilities/Service Teams are at the centre of any business. They typically handle all post coming in and going out of the firm as well as dealing with large photocopying requests and complex colour printing (i.e plans and drawings). They may also be responsible for archiving both on and off site and be responsible for the ordering and stocking of stationery and may be referred to as ‘Post & Print Facilities’.
In addition, in larger firms, the Facilities Team may encompass the role of Receptionist, in smaller firms a facilities person may also take on extra responsibility of reception in addition to post and print tasks.
The role of a qualified legal secretary is incredibly vital within any legal practice, with the role taking on different levels of work, depending on the firm and the fee earners the secretary assists.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives provides a range of qualifications which are delivered in partnership with City & Guilds, to assist legal secretaries in becoming qualified. The qualifications offer a flexible route into the profession with no entry requirements (although a Grade C or above in GCSE English Language is desirable), and the opportunity to work throughout the studies.
These qualifications are relevant for those wanting to develop key skills within the legal sector, and cover various topics such as working in the legal environment, proofreading and legal word processing. It also provides an overview of the principles of the following legal areas such as Criminal Liability, Contract Liability, Civil Litigation, Family Law, Wills and Succession and Conveyancing.
Work as a Legal Secretary can vary from general administrative duties, including preparing letters, file notes, statements, to assisting in the production of court document and legal forms, with some secretaries verging towards a paralegal role, with some secretaries using the role as a step towards Chartered Legal Executive, or even Solicitor.
A Barrister’s Clerk is responsible for running the administration and business activities of a Barrister’s chambers. The role is integral to the success of a set of chambers, both as a legal practice and as a business.
Barristers’ Clerks must be familiar with court procedures and etiquette and may also develop an expertise in the type of law undertaken by their chambers.
This demanding but rewarding role requires a combination of commercial acumen, legal knowledge and strong interpersonal skills. The term ‘Clerk’ is historical and does not accurately reflect the level of responsibility, coordination of workload, marketing and financial management undertaken. As a result, Clerks in some chambers may have other job titles, such as practice assistant or assistant practice manager.
In Scotland, the equivalent role is advocate’s clerk.