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Don’t become a para-legal

September 27, 2013

Inside Counsel reports that jobs for para-legals are on the decline. Indeed, without meaning to be humorous, it comments that many lawyers have now become so technically proficient that ‘they write their own e-mails’.

With such dramatic advances in the legal industry, it seems that support positions are under threat. In that sense, law firms are following a similar cycle to that which has been evident in the corporate world for many years. When cuts begin, the first to go are the lower paid and the non-qualified. In days past, this included not only secretaries and para-legals, but any other group (like contract managers) who reported into Legal.

Overall, the report suggests a long-term decline in the scale of opportunities for qualified lawyers, at least in the US, and there are predictions that far fewer students will enter college to study law. Part of this is seen also as an affordability issue, the cost of getting a law degree in the US is outpacing the ability of many graduates to earn a decent living. Hence there are proposals such as reducing the duration of the course.

Amongst all this change, the position for those in contract management appears quite healthy. Perhaps in part because they are far less costly to hire, companies have been investing in their contract and commercial groups. The importance of adequate controls, both pre and post-award, is becoming far better understood by top management. This is not only about compliance and risk, it is also about achieving improved bottom-line performance. The strength of demand for good quality contract managers has also been boosted by a surge in the numbers working in Procurement. Historically, the Procurement Contract Manager was a relatively rare beast, but today, with ever-greater focus on achieving outputs and outcomes, the need for this oversight has become essential.

So if you are a para-legal, don’t despair, simply re-train as a contract manager!

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