Will your paralegal service use your practice management software?

During a recent presentation, a question was posed to me that I thought I would revisit for other attorneys wondering the same thing. In essence, the law firm wanted to know whether they would have to use a paralegal service’s practice management software, or if the paralegal service would use the firm’s software. My answer: I don’t know. It depends. Personally, I believe the paralegal service should use the firm’s practice management software if that’s what the firm prefers.  Are there circumstances that may warrant a different answer?  Perhaps. But I can’t think of any offhand. Professionally, I believe that seamlessly integrating substantive legal support into a law firm’s practice means providing quality support and work product without shaking up the firm’s existing practices and procedures. In other words, if the firm has practice management software and that’s what they want to use, then that’s what we will use.  If … Continue reading

Implementation, communication, and delivery of paralegal support services

If you’re familiar with Paralegal Support 101, you know that I keep it separate from my business, Integrative Legal Support.  I do so because I want Paralegal Support 101 to serve strictly as a free knowledgebase for attorneys, law firms, and legal departments. Today, I’m going to change that up some, but for good reason.  Here’s why:  I recently found some information that I shared with a group a couple of years ago.  Basically they had asked, “Can you explain in detail how it works when you work with a freelance paralegal or paralegal service?”  As I read through the information I had provided, I realized that every law firm and attorney who calls about services asks some variant of the same question.  They want to know, in detail, how we’ll work with them. So, I thought this more detailed explanation might benefit many attorneys, law firms, and legal departments … Continue reading

Five questions to ask a freelance paralegal or paralegal support service

Let’s get to the short and quick of it. Your firm wants to bring in support but is having a hard time taking the leap. The best way to get over that hurdle is to ask questions. Knowledge is power and, generally, it’s the fear of the unknown that stops us from taking action. Remove the fear by gaining knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the more empowered you’ll be to make the decision to move forward with paralegal support. The best way to increase your knowledge is to ask questions. Talk with a couple freelance paralegals or paralegal support services that you’re interested in working with and ask them questions. The more you talk with them, the more you’ll learn, and the more you’ll get a feel for their processes and procedures. Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask: What type of projects/services are you available for? … Continue reading

Need Help? Now what?

Many a time I’ve talked to attorneys who need help but have a hard time deciding what to delegate to a freelance paralegal or paralegal support service – even after talking with a provider.  It’s not an uncommon predicament, especially for sole practitioners, so here are a few ideas to help you move forward. If you’ve contacted a paralegal support service or freelance paralegal (remember, they’re really the same thing) because you know you need help, e.g., drafting confidentiality agreements or preparing trademark applications, then you’ve already identified specific tasks you’d like help with.  That’s exactly what you should delegate to the service.  If you’re uncomfortable moving forward with that, especially if it’s your first time using a paralegal support service, then give the paralegal two or three small projects on a trial basis just to get started.  That will help you build a work relationship with the service without … Continue reading

Clarify Your Needs to Receive Invaluable Support

A few weeks ago, I provided a consultation to a small litigation firm looking for paralegal support.  I give them kudos for knowing they need support and for already identifying the type of support best suited to their needs.  However, it quickly became clear during the consultation that, while they knew they wanted and needed someone highly qualified in their particular area of law, they hadn’t yet considered what tasks to outsource. Sometimes it’s hard to break things down with specificity, especially if you’ve been working in your field for a while.  As a specialist, the work you do becomes familiar and the intricate details of each step soon blend together into a more generalized overview; they become second-nature to you.  At this point, it can become difficult to break them back down into the individual steps you once spent so much time mastering.  In order to delegate, though, it’s … Continue reading

Paralegal Support Services: 5 Tips for Getting Started

You’ve thought long and hard, considered the pros and cons, and are ready to take the leap.  You may have even found a service you’re interested in retaining.  Now, how do you take that first step to move forward and get started?  The freelance paralegal or paralegal support service you’ve chosen should be able to help you with that, but here are a few ideas to kick-start the process. Sit down together (okay, phone conference or Skype together) and identify your needs and expectations. Determine the method in which you will utilize your paralegal service (on-call, temporary, project based, or regular-ongoing assistance, etc.). Determine the types of tasks you’ll be delegating (research, drafting, transactional work, complete case work, everything). Determine who will be responsible for providing what.  Will you be supplying a company email address and/or phone number to your paralegal for use in client and vendor communications?  Will your … Continue reading