Well-managed law departments, when they reach double-figures of lawyers, usually have someone who handles budgets, non-lawyer staff, facilities, computers and other administrative tasks (See my post of Aug. 1, 2006: lawyer compared to operations roles.). Administrators, as they are generally known, handle the thankless tasks of keeping the machinery ticking (See my posts of Aug. 1, 2006: various titles for the position; Dec. 9, 2005 #1: Chief Operating Officer at Barclays; and Dec. 31, 2007: Wikipedia has no entry on them.).
Ten lawyers seems to be the tipping point for when more general counsel establish an administrator position than lack one (See my posts of Oct. 1, 2006 on this metric; Feb. 7, 2008: large law departments but no administrators; and April 8, 2005 on replacing an administrator with rotating lawyers.). With the right person give appropriate responsibilities it is an important, professional position (See my posts of Nov. 4, 2007: direct reports to the general counsel; Nov. 30, 2007: exempt-employee status; July 31, 2006: median compensation figures; and Dec. 20, 2005: compensation per year of additional education.).
The comments on this blog has been various about what law department administrators typically do (See my posts of Jan. 27, 2006: lower legal costs and increase productivity; July 9, 2007: manage and publicize paralegals; June 28, 2005 and Sept. 10, 2005: supervise paralegals and secretaries; July 9, 2007: organize lunch & learns about software; July 9, 2007: facilitate mid-year reviews; Aug. 9, 2006: deal with vendors; Jan. 14, 2007: push for more diversity in law firms; and Dec. 7, 2005: oversee technology in the department.).