I’ve found myself in the back of a cab quite regularly this year. The more I take them, the more I dread doing so. Are they going to be honest? Are they going to try and take me the long way? Either way, I’m prepared. I tell them which route to take. It never changes. From house to airport, it’s only a 10 minute ride. Unfortunately, about half of my drivers ignore my directions and try to take a different route to rack up extra fare. Sometimes I have an honest driver. Sometimes, not so honest.
Some of these drivers will talk. Others – not so much. Aside from the whole route thing, I realized today that I learn a lot about my drivers’ characters during our 10 minute conversations. Some who initially make me uneasy turn out to be quite nice and very ethical. Others with whom I have no initial concern may have me feeling uneasy by the end of that 10 minute conversation. (Just proves that we should never judge a book by its cover.) The latter happened this morning.
By the time we got out of the subdivision, I knew he was unethical – he was talking about keeping money people left behind or keeping it when they unknowingly gave him too much. (And we’re not talking a couple dollars here – we’re talking LOTS of money.) By the time we got to my destination, approximately 7 minutes later, some of the questions he asked made me downright uneasy – and the experience is still bothering me. (He did take the straight route, though.)
Now I’ve never considered myself a great judge of character. Sometimes it takes a little longer to get a good feel for someone, especially if they’re a “smooth talker.” But I have realized from these cab experiences that much can be learned about a person’s character in a very short period of time. And while I may not be a great judge of character, I’ve realized that I do pick up on things pretty quickly.
Confidentiality and Security
So what does my cab ride have to do with security and confidentiality? Well one of the biggest concerns attorneys have in delegating to a freelance paralegal or paralegal support service is the security and confidentiality of their clients’ information. These important concerns might halt the outsourcing process altogether. (Although, when you think about it, it’s no different than delegating to a paralegal employee; you’re still entrusting them with confidential information and supervising their work.) While fear of the unknown shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your ideas and goals, many important factors should be considered when outsourcing to a freelance paralegal or paralegal support service, and due diligence in finding the right provider shouldn’t be compromised.
If these 10 minute cab rides teach me so much about someone’s character, imagine what you can learn from a longer conversation with a paralegal support provider. In discussing your needs and how the support service will meet those needs, you will quickly develop a sense of how they approach their work and conduct themselves. Their practices and procedures should also speak – directly or indirectly – to their ethical standards. (Remember that paralegals are bound by the same ethical guidelines you are bound by as an attorney.) You’ll probably leave the conversation with a good idea of whether they fudge to get things done, or if they follow the book to the letter. The information you glean from these conversations should tell you whether you should be concerned about the confidentiality and security of the information you provide to the paralegal support provider.
You can learn a lot from a conversation. Don’t be afraid to have one. What does your intuition tell you? Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with the idea of working with the paralegal service you spoke with? After speaking with the service provider, do you fear for the house you left behind this morning (sorry – still thinking about that cab ride), or are you comfortable with the paralegal provider and what you know about how they conduct themselves and their paralegal support business? Trust your gut. Mine’s not happy right now, but yours will be when you have the right conversation.