If you read the post, Why Would I need a Freelance Paralegal, you may wonder how a freelance paralegal can be a quick and cost-effective solution in some circumstances. In other situations, you may wonder why you wouldn’t just hire an employee. The answers to these questions I did not understand myself until I began working as a freelance paralegal. I knew paralegal support services offered incredible benefits to attorneys but I had a hard time fully understanding certain benefits until I gained an in-depth understanding of the work itself. So I give you here the answers to those questions, at least in brief.
Freelance paralegal? Why, when I can hire someone?
Working with a freelance paralegal can be a great solution when hiring isn’t an option or doesn’t make sense. A freelance paralegal may make more sense when:
- You don’t expect the need for additional support to last indefinitely;
- The current workload isn’t sufficient enough to hire someone;
- You don’t have the finances to pay employment expenses such as payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, workman’s compensation insurance, or benefits;
- You don’t have the finances to pay temporary agency fees or simply don’t want a middle-man;
- You have a limited budget or have implemented budget cuts;
- You’re enduring a hiring freeze even with a heavy caseload;
- You’re trying to cut costs and overhead;
- You’ve downsized or kept your office space to a bare minimum and don’t have the room or resources to bring someone into the office;
- You just want to know someone is available to back you up when you need it;
- You only need [extra] support once in a while;
- You’d like to delegate particular tasks you don’t particularly care to do yourself; and
The list goes on.
How is a freelance paralegal a quick and cost-effective solution?
First and foremost, you don’t have to spend the time, money, or resources to advertise, interview, hire, and train a new employee. It’s like pressing the fast forward button on your remote to instantly advance three months down the line. And, because a freelance paralegal is not an employee, you minimize your overhead and eliminate:
- The need for extra office space, furniture, equipment, and supplies;
- Employment taxes, disability, unemployment, and workers’ compensation insurance;
- Medical and dental insurance;
- SEP and retirement plans; and
- Continuing education costs for employees.
When you need help, you simply contract with a freelance paralegal to ease the tension of your caseload and receive immediate support. Unlike paying to have an employee always on-hand, a freelance paralegal remains on-call to assist you when you need it, resulting in a drastic reduction in cost for receiving substantive legal support. (See, Freelance Paralegal Cost Analysis.)
Your clients benefit
If you’ve thought about reducing your fees to make your clients happy or to help bring in more clients, you’ll find that working with a freelance paralegal is a great alternative to slashing your own rate. Utilizing a freelance paralegal increases the value of the services you provide your clients while increasing the practice’s overall billable hours. When you have a paralegal perform a substantial amount of the casework, your clients benefit from the lower paralegal billing rate.
In fact, as the general public becomes increasingly aware of the value paralegals bring to the table, many clients are demanding their attorneys utilize a paralegal for as much legal work as possible. The result is:
- Lower legal fees;
- Increased client satisfaction;
- Enhanced client-firm relationship; and
- An improved firm reputation.
Benefits personal to you
When you work with a freelance paralegal, you’ll also:
- Have more time to work on pressing matters, develop legal strategies, and increase your client base;
- Reduce your workload and stress; and
- Improve your work-life balance.
Utilizing a freelance paralegal can:
- Give you more time to focus on pressing matters;
- Help you manage a heavy caseload;
- Help your regular paralegal manage a heavy caseload;
- Provide you with continuing support during your paralegal’s absence;
- Minimize your overhead;
- Improve your practice’s profit margin; and
- Reduce your clients’ legal fees.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the many circumstances under which freelance paralegals provide support and the many benefits associated with freelance paralegal services, I hope you’ll think about the many options available the next time you or your staff begin to feel overwhelmed. But don’t wait until it’s too late. If you can find a freelance paralegal you’re comfortable with and build a rapport with that person now, you’ll already have a valuable support system in place the next time you’re in a crunch.