What a 10 minute cab ride taught me about confidentiality and security

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 … Continue reading

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

Find an A-Player Paralegal, Part VI

Making a decision and getting started The last step in finding an A-Player paralegal is to start small.  If you’re a long-time reader, you know we’ve said this many times.  This just proves that it’s true! Once you think you’ve found the perfect support, whether a paralegal support service or traditional employee, start small.  Before offering the job or retaining full support, ask for assistance with a small project.  Don’t suggest it might go further.  Simply ask the paralegal if s/he is available to help with the project.  If you’re impressed, ask for help with a larger project.  If you’re not impressed, you haven’t lost anything – but you will have saved yourself a lot of time, money, and heartache.  If the larger project works just as well, then make a formal offer or ask to receive formal paralegal support services. This is the same advice I give to attorneys … Continue reading

Find an A-Player Paralegal, Part V

Pattern interviews So far you’re off to a great start in finding an A-player paralegal.  You’ve identified needs, tasks, qualities, and traits that will fit with your practice, and have started narrowing down higher-level paralegal support by painting a brutally honest picture of the job at hand. If you’re hiring an employee, the next step is the interview.  This, too, differs from the traditional interviews that we’ve held.  It’s also where all those traits and natural abilities come into play.  For me, it’s also the most challenging. In your interview (or during your discussions if you’re talking with a paralegal support service), search for the traits and qualities you identified earlier.  It’s not hard to pick up on qualities and traits during a conversation, especially once you’re consciously aware of them. In addition – and this is the key – look for patterns in behavior.  Ask about experiences that have … Continue reading

Find an A-Player Paralegal, Part IV

The job description The articles in this series build on each other, and the last article was no exception.  If you missed Part III, take a minute to read it now before reading this fourth article.  Don’t worry, we’ll still be here when you get done. At this point in the series, you should 1) know what you need help with, and 2) have a list of related tasks and 3) relative traits and qualities. If you’re looking to hire an employee, it’s time to turn that information into a job description.   If you’re going to retain a freelance paralegal or paralegal support service, you need to develop it into a bullet list, summary, or other form of information that you can refer to as you discuss your needs and goals with prospective services. Don’t hold back as you’re organizing and drafting the description or summary.  Rather than sugar-coat the … Continue reading

Auld Lang Syne

Here we are, once again.  Reconciling where we’ve been as we pave the path that lies ahead, held together by that which means the most to us. Before I get all gushy and philosophical, I must first apologize for the delay in posting.  As I wrote my next article, it morphed into a larger-than-anticipated topic.  To conform with Paralegal Support 101’s mission to provide short, quick read articles, the topic necessarily turned into a mini-series, no part of which was wholly complete without the others.  That series is forthcoming. The articles are just another example of time gone by.  Time seems to go by faster every year. And, every year seems to bring more goals and plans that we struggle to achieve.  Before we know it (and before we recover from the holidays), we’ll be commenting on how hard it is to believe that January is over.  Then it will … Continue reading