You’re a what? Freelance Paralegals Defined

Freelance paralegal? What’s that? Virtual paralegal? What’s that? Have you ever heard these terms and wondered? Have you ever wondered or wished there was a way to get help with your caseload when hiring isn’t an option but you and your staff are struggling to meet demands or deadlines? Have you ever thought, “It would be so nice to be able to delegate just this one thing?” Those two terms above represent the answer to such questions. Freelance paralegal defined A freelance paralegal, sometimes referred to as a virtual paralegal, is a paralegal who works as an independent contractor providing substantive legal support to attorneys, firms, corporations, or governmental agencies on an as-needed basis. Depending on the attorney’s need, a freelance paralegal may provide paralegal support services occasionally – only when the need arises – or regularly – providing daily or weekly support. As independent contractors, freelance paralegals are business … Continue reading

What? You don’t have a license to practice as a paralegal?

A couple of recent events led me to prepare this final section on the overview of the paralegal profession.  Namely, clarification of formal requirements as they pertain to paralegal licensure and paralegal regulation. Not long ago I was talking with an attorney friend, answering her questions about the paralegal profession, the type of support paralegals provide, and professional requirements.  As was the case then, I sometimes find attorneys are under the impression that paralegals have similar licensing and reporting requirements.  While this may be due, in part, to the close relation between the professions, it may also be partly due to inaccurate information published for the public. You see, last week I received a link to a web page providing information and resources on the paralegal profession and paralegal careers.  The page included links to [mostly] credible sources, which did provide accurate information about the profession. However, the information on … Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Greetings and Happy New Year! During the past month I’ve spent a lot of time both reflecting on 2010 and looking toward 2011.  This past year has been a year of tremendous growth and unexpected surprise for me, both professionally and personally.  It was also a year of challenge. I spend a fair amount of time mentoring and motivating individuals who challenge themselves or who find themselves challenged in life.  My motto:  Perseverance pays.  I encourage everyone to push through the tough times no matter how hard it gets. Sure, it’s easier just to give up.  But those who persevere, succeed.  Successful people have personal stories of challenge overcome.  They didn’t give up. Sometimes it’s hard to practice what you preach.  Have you ever noticed that when it rains it seems to pour?  It’s never just one thing; it’s one thing after another.  That’s challenge.  When you feel you’ve been … Continue reading

Paralegal Do’s and Don’ts: What can (and can’t) a paralegal do for you

Just knowing how the paralegal profession came about (the reason for its development) provides much insight into the role of paralegals. Similarly, the paralegal definition itself explains the type of support paralegals provide. Knowing these things, however, stops short of explaining what a paralegal can (and can’t) do for you. Paralegals: What do they do By knowing the definition of a paralegal, you know what paralegals do – they provide substantive legal support to attorneys. I know, it still doesn’t really detail what they do. That’s understandable, though. The definition is relatively broad because paralegals perform a broad range of tasks. When I talk to attorneys who don’t know what they can delegate to their paralegal, I tell them to think about all the things they (the attorneys) do throughout the day. That’s what their paralegal can do. In essence, a paralegal can perform any task an attorney normally does … Continue reading

The Paralegal Profession: [Almost] everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask

When you work as a paralegal in a law firm or legal department, everyone knows your purpose; after all, they hired you to do the job. However, since I began offering paralegal services to attorneys on a full-time basis, I found that MANY attorneys, especially younger attorneys, don’t actually know the paralegal’s role. Some attorneys will come straight out and say, ‘I don’t know what a paralegal could do for me; I don’t even know what they do.’ Others hesitantly admit, with a slight twinge of guilt, that they’re not really sure of the paralegal’s role. At first, I was surprised. But the more I thought about it I realized it should be no surprise at all — after all, they don’t teach you about paralegal support in law school any more than they teach you how to start, build, and operate your law practice. As such, it only makes … Continue reading

The Paralegal Profession: A Brief History for Attorneys

As I prepared to explain what paralegals are, I thought it only appropriate to begin with a brief overview of the profession itself. Albeit true to form, my explanation of paralegals is longer than anticipated, so I’ve decided to use a brief overview of the profession as a precursor and give it a home of its own. Perhaps it’s more fitting, anyway, as what follows may just surprise you. Did you know? I still work with attorneys who remember what it was like to work without paralegals. No, I don’t mean in the sense of attorneys who just don’t work with paralegals; I mean attorneys who remember when there was no such thing as paralegals. Most attorneys today – especially younger attorneys – will be surprised to learn that the paralegal profession is a relatively young profession. In fact, the youth of the profession still puts me in awe when … Continue reading