Presentation on theme: "Making a Difference Legal Secretaries Dursteler Schwendiman & Harris Providing quality legal services for over 40 years."— Presentation transcript:
Making a Difference Legal Secretaries Dursteler Schwendiman & Harris Providing quality legal services for over 40 years
It is 4:30 p.m. on a Friday afternoon and an attorney comes to you with a memorandum in opposition that needs to be filed that day to meet a deadline. The document needs to be proofed, a table of contents and table of authorities need to be added, and it needs to be electronically filed with the court and served on opposing parties by U. S. Mail. After quickly reviewing the memorandum, you notice that, unfortunately, it also has several exhibits that need to be broken down into smaller pdf’s for electronic filing. You are looking at a couple hours of work to accomplish this task.
Ever heard the statement that poor planning on someone else’s part does not constitute an emergency on your part? Guess What? That doesn’t apply in this case. This attorney’s poor planning constitutes an emergency for you and you will not be leaving the office at 5 pm.
So is there anything you can do to avoid fire drills? Yes!
Attorneys like to play with matches But if you keep the matches out of their reach, they won’t be able to get at them and start a fire
Fire Marshals enforce the National Fire Code which was designed to create minimum safety requirements to reduce the physical and emotional damage of fires. National fire codes are constantly being updated as new technologies are developed and studies show better ways to conduct fire safety. Every Legal Secretary can be a Fire Marshal and establish fire codes to reduce the risk of “fires.”
You have now all been promoted to Fire Marshals in the Commercial Litigation Department of D, S & H. What are some of the fire codes that you will establish to avoid fire alarms going off…especially on Friday afternoons?
Fire Code #1: No Last Minute Filings Establish a habit of checking with attorneys at the beginning of each week and again each morning to see what filings are anticipated Check with attorneys throughout the day to determine what progress is being made on the document Offer to pull exhibits and prepare them for filing Prepare mailing envelopes and cover letters early in the day so they will be ready to go when the document is complete Let the attorney know when you need the “final” document handed over to you so that you can do your part to get it filed by 5:00 p.m.
Fire Code #2: Preparing for a Deposition Make any necessary travel and logistical arrangements (room, court reporter, video conferencing)as soon as you receive notice of the deposition Confirm these arrangements a couple of days before the deposition One week prior ask the attorney if there are any documents she needs you to assemble in preparation for the deposition Offer to make copies of exhibits the day before the deposition
Fire Code #3: No Delinquent Bills When clients receive monthly itemized bills on a regular basis, they are likely to pay them on a regular basis Clients do not like to receive several months of bills at once This type of billing makes them unhappy, hesitant to pay the bill, and more likely to ask for detailed information regarding the bill which involves the accounting department, the billing attorney, and you Sloppy billing leads to decreased productivity and customer satisfaction Unhappy clients soon become former clients
Always send bills for review on the first day they are available from accounting If you have not received reviewed bills back within four days, then send a polite email reminder If you do not receive reviewed bills back within a day of the friendly reminder then send another reminder with the billing attorney CC’d--works nearly every time Mail final bills the day you received them from accounting and double check that you are sending them to the right contact to ensure prompt payment
You are not “just” a legal secretary! Integral part of the litigation team You can be proactive in order to avoid fire drills You can keep the process moving so that work does not get left until the last minute and important matters do not fall through the cracks
How many fire codes do you think you can establish? Brainstorm as a team List the tasks that commonly result in fire drills Think of ways each member of the team can adapt their current behavior to increase efficiency, move the process along, and increase client satisfaction
Remember Don’t play with matches Be proactive in order to avoid “fires” Make a list of fire codes that will work for your team Work with your team to implement these codes Keep proficient in the use of technology to increase efficiency Do you know the formatting rules for the various courts? Are you able to e-file in federal and state courts with confidence? Are you able to use the advanced features of Adobe Acrobat Professional?
Your Role as a Legal Secretary Not meant as an exhaustive training manual Meant to inspire you to be proactive in managing your tasks, anticipating what you will need to do in the coming week, and to keep the process moving You are indispensable in keeping the litigation process moving in a timely, efficient, and technically-advanced manner
The Beginning... Each team member working together to improve the process to increase efficiency and to provide superior legal services