I didn’t really want to use my blog as a place to self-promote my services. I really didn’t. After all, the only people probably reading my blog are either those already using my services or my friends and family – but on the off chance that someone is out there in need, I’m thinking it couldn’t hurt. So my witty, sarcastic, “picky” point of view may be missing here, but I’m hoping to provide an answer to the question “What is a contract paralegal and how can they help me?”.
As I see it – I’m the best bang for your buck. No doubt.
I’m not just confident that I can provide a great service, I’m confident that I can provide more services, with a better attitude generating a better product. Why? Plain and simply because my business and my name depend on it. Your average paralegal employed by a law firm does good work, no doubt. I’ve worked with her – she comes to work at 8:30 or so, she mingles with the receptionist, grabs a cup coffee, catches up on firm gossip, shoots the breeze with an attorney or two and then makes her way back to her desk and leisurely starts about her work – her billable work, that is – you started paying her oh, about an hour and a half ago. Now this is great and everyone wants to work in an enjoyable environment where they consider themselves likable and an integral part of the ‘team’. All very important aspects in our work lives. BUT – for a small firm or solo practitioner, the added expense of an employee, both through her salary and benefits, can be economically crippling if every aspect of her work day isn’t being turned around into a billable time entry.
I am here to say there’s a better and more economical way to do this….. Employ a Contract Paralegal – one where her work is dependent on quick turnaround and impressing her client (you) to ensure more work comes her way.
With budget constraints and the current economy, many firms – large, small and solos – operate on tight budgets. The small and solo firms operate with little or no staff. What some attorneys fail to realize is that there comes a point when doing everthing yourself actually costs you more than getting a little help from a contract, freelance or virtual paralegal (I use the terms interchangeably). Here are eight great reasons why I think attorneys should consider using this picky contract paralegal.
1. Peace of Mind. When things get busy there is always that nagging fear that you will miss something; a deadline will fall through the cracks; an important meeting will not make it to your calendar; or there will simply not be enough hours in the day to complete all of your client work with the quality you strive to provide. You may think you are saving money by operating on a short staff, but if the quality of your work suffers, you put your reputation on the line, not to mention the increased risk of a malpractice claim. As the song goes, “There is no dollar sign on a peace of mind.”
2. Scalability. You can scale the number of hours you use a virtual paralegal according to your needs. Everyone’s work volume fluctuates over time, but attorneys working in litigation experience much more drastic swings in their work flow than other professions. This makes working with a freelance paralegal the perfect option for litigation practices. You pay for only the time you need, only when you need it.
3. Profitability. Freelance paralegals are a Cash Cow for law firms. As an independent contractor, a freelance paralegal is less expensive than paying for taxes, benefits, vacation time, sick time, and other costs associated with a traditional employee. Firms typically bill their clients at double or triple (or even more) the hourly rate of what they pay a freelance paralegal, making a instant profit from the arrangement.
4. Rainmaking. When attorneys are consumed with just keeping deadlines met and existing clients pleased, they fail to “feed the pipeline.” All solos and small firms feel the constant tension between time devoted to the legal side of a practice versus time devoted to the business side of the practice. Neither of these can be neglected if a firm is going to survive long-term. Delegating tasks to a contract paralegal can help provide balance and free attorneys up to prioritize tasks to make sure they are using their time for the best value possible.
5. Attorneys need a team at times. Even the best and most efficient attorneys need more support and team work at certain times. Preparing for a hearing, mediation or trial can be a daunting task for a solo or an attorney with limited support. Many times you need “another pair of eyes and ears” for feedback, proofreading, strategizing and maintaining your sanity during crunch time.
6. Your clients need attention. Clients appreciate returned phone calls, answered emails, and updates on their cases (even when nothing is happening – hand holding). This is essential to overall client satisfaction, gaining referrals, and earning a great reputation. But, do you have time to add this to your juggling act? A freelance paralegal can manage this essential, yet often neglected part of running a successful practice.
7. Avoid attorney burnout. It is not a myth, it is a fact. Many attorneys experience burn-out, but it can be avoided. You should work to live, not live to work. If this seems impossible to you, make some changes now. Delegating appropriate tasks to a virtual paralegal can alleviate enough responsibilities to give you a life outside of the practice of law. It could actually save your sanity and your career.
8. Business to Business Relationship. The contract paralegal is working for herself and for her family. She isn’t employed by a firm, but is self-employed. Her business is dependent on providing a great product and being a solution to a problem – and being so good at it that you will come back time and time again. The contract paralegal is aware that at anytime her client can simply not send work her way – there isn’t a firing process or firm meeting about productivity – no procedural I’s to dot or T’s to cross. She needs you – not only for the work but for the reference.
And this is what I do… to help you – the attorney. I love the law – and I especially love the relationship a paralegal can have with her attorney. It can be dynamic and powerful and together, a well-oiled team producing amazing results. A win-win situation. Amazing results without the burden of office politics. Refreshing!
Contact me if I can be of service – I am here to help and would love the opportunity to show you how I can help you.