Legal Support Professionals Play a Vital Role as
Blended Resource Managers
By Joe Kanka
Several years ago, I was working at my company’s trade booth at a legal conference when a legal support manager from a law firm approached the table to engage in conversation. The conference attendee stopped at the table and said, “I need another vendor like I need a hole in the head.” Then the person walked away. That incident has always stuck in my mind because as a legal support professional myself who has worked on the client side, I never thought of vendors as just vendors. Instead, I have always approached vendor management as being important in the development of partnerships with service and product providers who can help me get things done when needed.
Today’s legal support professionals including those who serve as paralegals and litigation support professionals play a vital role supporting attorneys within corporations, law firms and government agencies. While the roles and responsibilities of legal support professionals differ, they are linked by one common denominator that I refer to as blended resource management. In today’s legal environment, legal support professionals must be a jack of all trades and have the ability to serve as blended resource managers.
As blended resource managers, legal support professionals add tremendous value by being able to identify, assess, utilize and manage a wide variety of resources and tools including the ability to work with outside service and product providers. While attorneys take front and center stage providing advice and counsel on legal issues and strategies, it is the blended resource managers who must work behind the scenes to provide the critical direction and guidance needed on the available resources and tools necessary to help attorneys do their jobs.
Because attorneys do not have the time, blended resource managers must oversee the various resources and tools that are available for each project that must be managed much like general contractors. And yes, this includes having a stable of vendors or strategic partners that can be called upon when needed. Perhaps not the best analogy but think of vendors as the farm system like in baseball. You can call upon them when you need their unique areas of expertise to perform specific functions for the team. I believe this is one of those key management skills that are required of today’s blended resource managers.
In today’s highly complex world of big data and technology (and don’t forget eDiscovery), blended resource managers do play a vital role in supporting attorneys and clients. However, they cannot do it alone. They need to develop relationships with strategic partners in order to be able to engage in just-in-time resource management. We all want to be that go-to person but sometimes it does require the help of third party providers. And to succeed as a go-to person, blended resource managers must be able to bring key resources and tools to the table when called upon.
Joe Kanka, is Vice President of Corporate Development, eTERA Consulting. He is a former Paralegal Manager. Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.