Dallas, TX (PRWEB) October 08, 2011
Reed Allmand, the managing partner of Allmand Law conducted a talk about the importance and responsibilities of legal assistants on September 17, 2011 at the Lawyer’s Assistant School of Dallas. Allmand shared with students some of his “war stories” and what graduates can expect when working at a law firm, specifically bankruptcy law firms.
The Business of Good Outcomes
Allmand stressed that one of the greatest benefits of working in the bankruptcy legal field is that the outcome is usually a positive one for clients. Clients step into the law firm financially distressed and with the help of the bankruptcy attorney and his legal assistants, the client can emerge solvent and well on their way to a financial fresh start. But in order for legal assistants to fulfill their duties to the attorney and by extension to clients, they must understand how bankruptcy law works and where they fit in to the equation.
Understanding Bankruptcy from A Legal Assistant’s Standpoint
Whether, the legal assistant is a paralegal or a secretary, it’s important that they have at least a rudimentary understanding of how bankruptcy works. Allmand stressed the importance of knowing that legal assistants are prohibited from giving any advice to clients. Since bankruptcy deals with financial issues, some assistants may make the mistake of advising clients to do one thing or the other because there’s an assumption that everyone knows something about financial challenges because everyone has experienced hardships at some point in their life. However, advising a bankruptcy client on something considered simple, like “Call the credit card company and ask for an extension” could be construed as legal advice. Giving any type of advice could cause problems for the bankruptcy attorney and his firm.
Legal Assistant’s Basic Responsibilities
Legal secretaries and paralegals may be asked to perform a myriad of duties ranging from speaking with clients to drafting legal documents and attending court proceedings with the bankruptcy attorney. According to Allmand, many law firms prefer assistants who have some educational background in law and who can do the following:
- Conduct investigations and statistical and documentary research.
- Conduct legal research.
- Draft legal documents, correspondence and pleadings.
- Summarize depositions, interrogatories and testimony.
The ability to write well and understand legal terms and jargon can mean the difference between a legal assistant who is hired by the best firms and those who languish in unemployment. Even if an assistant has been unable to attend a formal certification program, they should make it their business to know the legal field in general and to remain up-to-date with trends and changes.
Legal Assistant’s Benefits to Law Firms
Legal assistants are there to relieve attorneys of some of the tedious administrative work inherent to the legal field. In the bankruptcy field, legal assistants may call clients, find documents and conduct research, some of which can be billed at an hourly rate to the client. The more legal work a legal assistant can take on, the more valuable they become to busy attorneys who need to focus on the more complex and demanding tasks of a bankruptcy case.
Reed Allmand is a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney, the managing partner of the law firm Allmand Law and NACBA’s State Chair for the Northern District of Texas. He has been practicing bankruptcy law for nearly 10 years and has handled more than 3,000 bankruptcy filings. Allmand has appeared on “Money for Breakfast” on Fox Business News and is the author of “The Truth about Bankruptcy.” To speak with Mr. Allmand or to schedule an interview, please call (214) 265-0123.