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PROFILE

Profile: Brad Baber, legal assistant manager, Troutman Sanders, Atlanta [by Regan Morris] As legal assistant manager of the 600-plus-attorney law firm Troutman Sanders, Brad Baber has his hands full with more than 100 paralegals. LawCrossing speaks with Baber about his job and what he looks for in paralegals while recruiting.

Baber started his career at a talent agency in

“An ideal candidate on paper would be

nually. That was a great tool for professional

South Carolina, helping actors find work. He

somebody who has a Bachelor’s degree and

development for me, and it is for everybody

loved the entertainment industry, but South

has been to a paralegal school, preferably

really.”

Carolina was a small market, and he didn’t

one that has been approved by the American

want to move to Los Angeles. He needed a

Bar Association,” he said. “We’re generally

He moved to Atlanta in 1996 because the

new career.

looking in this firm for people who are career

Atlanta office was booming and he was flying

paralegals. And when I say that, I mean

back and forth all the time.

Now Baber helps paralegals find work. Baber became a paralegal as a way to learn

versus someone who is going to work in a law firm for a year or two with a definite plan of

“It made sense to have a paralegal manager

going on to law school to be a lawyer.”

physically located in the Atlanta office,” he said.

about law firms. He intended to go to law school and become an entertainment lawyer,

The reason for wanting career paralegals is

but he discovered he liked the paralegal pro-

because the firm invests so much in training

fession and quickly rose through the ranks

its paralegals and they don’t want them to

ish and has lived in Paris, said working with

of his first law firm—Nelson, Mullins, Riley &

leave after just a year or two. Written and

paralegals and attorneys is stimulating, and

Scarborough—where he started as a courier

verbal communication skills are also very

hiring and training people is a rewarding way

and clerk.

important, and Baber sometimes asks for

to earn your living.

Baber, who speaks French and some Span-

writing samples when hiring paralegals. He chose Nelson Mullins because it was the

Managing the talent agency, while quite

biggest firm in town, with about 75 attorneys

“The largest part of what they do is function

different from a law firm, gave Baber some

at the time. Baber, who is “40-ish,” said when

as a problem solver,” he said of paralegals.

helpful management skills.

he looked the firm up in the Yellow Pages to

“Especially a new paralegal without the train-

call about jobs, all 75 attorneys’ names were

ing and the experience. They are figuring out

“I think that people need to understand if

listed.

how to do things for the first time much of

they’re interested that the paralegal profes-

the time. So somebody who is an intelligent

sion and the management profession are

problem solver.”

two different things,” he said. “And a good

“Nelson Mullins had a very well structured paralegal program,” Baber said. “Columbia,

paralegal does not necessarily a good man-

South Carolina, is a small town, but I have

Baber said people interested in a career in

ager make. But if a paralegal is interested in

to say, knowing what I know now today, this

paralegal management should keep their

moving in that direction, I think that they need

program was really very unique and revo-

eyes open for managerial opportunities at

to certainly do very good quality legal work.”

lutionary at that time in its commitment to

law firms and keep abreast of trends and

paralegals.”

seminars in management through the Inter-

Legal assistant managers, he said, should

national Paralegal Management Association,

think of themselves as businesspeople and

formerly known as LAMA.

the attorneys as the clients. Managers take

Baber joined Troutman & Sanders in Atlanta

away lawyer’s administrative headaches and

in 2001, and much of his job focuses on

allow them to get on with the practice of law.

recruiting and training paralegals, a passion

“There are a lot of good management semi-

of his since he first became a manager early

nars out there,” he said. “These are geared

in his career. Baber’s department is now in

specifically to paralegal managers primarily

The number of paralegals under Baber at

human resources, and he does a lot of hiring.

in a law firm setting. So I went to those an-

Troutman Sanders increased to about 120

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PROFILE

recently. The Atlanta-based firm acquired the New York office of Jenkens & Gilchrist Parker Chapin, LLP. “I’m responsible for anybody in the firm who is a time keeper, who is primarily responsible for charging their services on a chargeper-hour basis to our clients, who is not an attorney,” he said. “For me, that is mostly paralegals, but it also includes specialists and project assistants.” Specialists would be patent agents, employee benefits specialists, or physicians, for example. “I’m still involved in screening all of the candidates, but I have somebody who is placing the ads, responding to the resumes, doing the background checks and reference checks that we do,” he said. “I tell entry-level paralegals that it is perfectly okay to graduate from college with a B or a C, and they’ll give you a diploma. But when you’re working in a law firm for a variety of different reasons, the only standard that’s acceptable is A-plus-level work. And that’s what we look for here.”

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Profile: Brad Baber, legal assistant manager, Troutman Sanders, Atlanta  

Brad Baber, legal assistant manager, Troutman Sanders, Atlanta.

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