Resources Every Legal Support Professional Should Have

Working smarter, not harder is always a good goal. Most who have been in this profession for a long time have their list of timesavers and go-to resources they rely on. Here’s a list of ten we recommend.

Checklists – Who doesn’t love a good checklist? Especially when it comes to calendaring, step-by-step instructions for procedures, etc.? Even if you’ve done 100 motions for summary judgment, having that checklist is insurance against making sure you haven’t forgotten something. Checklists are also a godsend for those filings or procedures you don’t do very often. For example, if writ petitions aren’t something you do on a regular basis, having a checklist handy will save you a lot of time and unnecessary frustration trying to figure out what you need, when you need it, and so on.

Court Info – Keeping information from the courts you deal with most often at your fingertips is a lifesaver!  And if you have a court clerk or two that you have established a good relationship with, you are really ahead of the game. Information such as Judge’s preferences, rules that apply to your specific county, filing fees, and direct chambers/staff phone numbers and email addresses should be updated regularly and kept in a location that is easily accessible.

Other Agency Info – Similarly, if you deal with other county, city, or state agencies such as the County Recorder, Secretary of State, State Personnel Board, Workers Comp Appeal Board, etc., keeping those contacts, checklists, procedural information, list of fees, and forms handy will make your workflow more efficient and productive.

Reference Materials – What materials do you keep at your desk or on your computer that you reference regularly? Here are just a few to consider: California Style Manual; Harvard Blue Book of Citations; Legal Professionals Handbook; Law Office Procedures Manual; Garner’s Redbook Legal Style Guide; Westlaw; Legal Secretary’s Reference Guide.

Templates – Just like checklists are invaluable, so, too, are templates. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. If you have boilerplate language that works for that representation letter, then use it. Did someone in your office do a really great job preparing the Table of Contents and Table of Authorities for a motion? Create a copy and use that as a reference the next time you need to see what yours should look like. Some of the things we do in the course of our jobs only come up occasionally; therefore, it is extremely useful to have a template handy so that we don’t have to go through the motions of figuring it out every single time.

Computer Shortcuts – Something we’re all guilty of is finding a great website or blog and then leaving the site without saving it to favorites. Or, we occasionally have to download a form or file something through a portal other than the courts and we don’t save that site. Get into the habit of bookmarking those sites for future reference. Remember, work smarter, not harder!

Vendor Info – Who was that court interpreter you met at the conference last month? If you aren’t in the habit of loading the contact info for all the vendors you meet into your computer or phone, at least put the business cards you receive in a place you know you can easily access.  While this still requires you to do a little digging, at least you have the information available.  Best practice, of course (and huge timesaver), is to enter the information into your contacts.  You’ll look like a super star when your attorney asks you if you know of a good private investigator!

Time-Savers – There are so many resources, tips and tricks out there to save on time and make our lives easier, especially when it comes to software platforms. Docketing and time entry software, legal forms generators, case management software, integration platforms, etc., all work together to improve efficiency. Take the time to learn things like Quick Parts, styles, marking for citations, setting up master case captions, how to manipulate spreadsheet data, and letting the software do the work for you.

Go-To Contacts – This seems like a no-brainer but maintaining a list of contacts that you can go to when you have a question or need some help is invaluable. If you aren’t familiar with Los Angeles County’s new e-filing requirements, having a resource you can call on in that area can keep you from spinning your wheels and trying to figure it out on your own. Or, as mentioned previously, knowing who the go-to person is in your local court and how to reach them makes life a lot easier. Sometimes it’s who you know rather than what you know!

Professional Associations – There is no substitute for the resources available to you through membership in a professional association. Continuing education, court updates, legal industry developments, changes in the law, contacts/networking across the county or state, conferences, webinars, certification opportunities, mentoring, leadership training, and opportunities to give back to the legal community are just some of the benefits of professional associations.

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