Michelle McCarthy knows legal practice management inside out, having worked in the legal industry for over 25 years. Insights spoke to Michelle about her life and work in the busy Bendigo practice of J.A. Middlemis, and how studying legal business subjects through The College of Law have helped her work as a practice manager.
There’s always something new to learn in the law
“To some degree, becoming a Legal Practice Manager has been a natural progression through my years spent in the administration of a legal office,” said Michelle. “I have held quite a few different roles, which has broadened my experience and understanding in many areas of legal operations.”
Michelle has always found legal work interesting.
“I appreciate the tradition and importance of the legal industry, and I feel that even after many years working in this environment, there is always something new to learn. This seems even more true in recent times, with so many technological advances and changes brought about by recent events. These changes can sometimes be challenging but they can also be exciting and inspire us to improve.”
Her Bendigo-based firm, J.A. Middlemis, is small and well-established.
“We have successfully provided a high level of service and results for our clients over many years,” said Michelle. “We specialise in family law matters, which at times presents its own challenges, and emotionally charged situations for clients.”
Good legal practice management crucial to a busy law firm’s success
As a legal practice manager, Michelle is committed to ensuring the firm can work effectively and efficiently through, at times, stressful situations.
“The rewards of helping clients through these difficult and stressful times can be very fulfilling, not only for the legal practitioners, but also for the administration staff providing the support, and behind the scenes work,” said Michelle.
“Often the administration or management area of a legal office can fade into the background of the more frontline work of the legal practitioners, but without appropriate support a busy legal practice cannot achieve success,” observed Michelle. “The challenge is to balance all of the components of legal operations in a collaborative work environment. Of course, the circumstances of the recent pandemic have created new challenges, but I think we need to view this as an opportunity to improve and strengthen our services.”
The most rewarding part of the role is the satisfaction of helping to provide clients with a high level of service.
“I have always enjoyed the challenges involved in everyday legal work, and the sense of achievement in completing work to a high standard,” said Michelle. “I also find it very rewarding to be able to assist people who may be in a difficult or stressful situation. Even though I am not a lawyer, I am able to contribute in many other ways to help provide a high level of service to clients and achieve positive results, which may make an enormous difference in their lives.”
Legal Business subjects very relevant to daily practice
Michelle is a graduate of The College of Law’s legal business management subjects, which she has found immensely relevant to her day to day work.
“Studying The College of Law’s Legal Business Management subjects has given me more knowledge and confidence to handle the management of our legal practice moving forward,” said Michelle.
“It has inspired me to keep learning and improving which will help me to achieve more in my role as practice manager. Completing these studies has given me the opportunity to increase my knowledge and obtain qualifications which will improve my career prospects for the future.
“I have found the subjects very relevant to my role, and also adaptable to different areas of the legal industry,” observed Michelle. “I have noticed many people from different roles taking part in legal business studies, and the subjects are flexible to a variety of circumstances.”
As a legal practice manager with no prior law degree, Michelle was initially hesitant to enrol.
“However, I have enjoyed the subjects and the format of the learning. I have been able to improve my knowledge and build on my experience in the industry while continuing to work full time. The way the learning is conducted is flexible and inclusive, making the studies easier to manage with work and other commitments.”
“I am looking forward to applying the learning from these studies to improving the management and operations of our business,” said Michelle. “This will contribute to providing more efficient services for clients and ongoing success for our practice.”
Michelle recommends the course for anyone working within the legal industry - not just lawyers.
“I would encourage others working in the legal industry to consider studying The College of Law’s legal business subjects,” said Michelle. “The subjects and topics are very relevant and applicable to many areas. The format of the studies makes learning more accessible and everyone at the College has been very approachable and helpful along the way.”
“The recent pandemic has taught us that we need to be adaptable and open to new opportunities. We are living in a changing environment with new technology and advancements constantly challenging us to adapt the way we do and view things, so continuing our learning is very important to enable us to grow and succeed in the future. I think being open to new opportunities gives us flexibility and strength to handle unexpected challenges.”