Southwest Minnesota Law Firm Introduces First Legal Assistant to Reduce Client Costs

New Ulm, Minnesota – Verna Markert recently assumed her new role as a legal assistant for a law firm in New Ulm, making her the first legal assistant in the southwest region of the state. Despite not being a lawyer herself, Markert is responsible for handling a variety of tasks previously carried out by attorneys. From conducting interviews with individuals involved in bad check cases to preparing financial reports for guardianships and estates, Markert has quickly become an invaluable asset to the law firm.

One of the primary reasons for creating this new position, according to attorney William O’Connor, is to reduce costs for clients. Lawyers typically bill clients based on the amount of time spent on a case, and Markert’s hourly rate is significantly lower than that of an attorney, providing a more affordable option for clients. Additionally, by entrusting the legal assistant with administrative tasks, the attorneys have more time to focus on providing counsel and expertise to their clients.

O’Connor emphasizes that while Markert is highly skilled and capable, she is not authorized to provide legal advice. Her role primarily involves gathering information, conducting interviews, and handling administrative duties. As the firm continues to assess the effectiveness of the legal assistant position, O’Connor anticipates the possibility of adding another legal assistant within the next year to further support their operations.

Markert, a New Ulm native, brings a wealth of experience to her new position. After spending 15 years working as a civilian secretary and administrative assistant for the armed services across various states, she returned to New Ulm and joined the law firm of Berens, Rodenberg, and O’Connor, where she served as a legal secretary for 17 years before being promoted to her current role.

The creation of the legal assistant position was inspired by attorney William O’Connor’s attendance at a law office management seminar in the Twin Cities, where he learned about the potential benefits of utilizing lay people to assist law firms. Rather than hiring someone who had completed a legal assistant course, the partners at the firm recognized Markert’s capabilities and decided to promote her, providing her with a salary increase and her own office space.

Reflecting on her new position, Markert expresses enthusiasm for the challenges it presents. She finds the legal profession fascinating, particularly the ever-changing nature of general law practice. With her dedication and commitment to the role, Markert is poised to expand her involvement in various areas within the firm in the future.

Markert’s appointment as the first legal assistant in southwest Minnesota showcases a growing trend within the legal industry. While there are approximately 60 legal assistant programs across the country, Markert’s on-the-job training and extensive experience highlight the value of practical knowledge in this field.

In conclusion, the introduction of Verna Markert as a legal assistant in New Ulm, Minnesota, signifies an innovative approach to enhancing legal services while delivering cost savings to clients. Markert’s responsibilities encompass a wide range of tasks previously handled by attorneys, allowing them to focus on providing valuable counsel and expertise. As the legal assistant position continues to prove its worth, it may pave the way for the addition of more support staff in the future.