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

Do you have a paralegal billing rate?

Not too long ago, I was talking with a young solo practitioner who needed help with trial prep.  He has a growing practice but isn’t quite ready to hire employees; he does, however, need help – especially on larger cases.  After he asked about my fees, he responded that he’d need to see if they were okay with his client.  It’s not the first time I’ve had such a conversation with a young attorney and I immediately knew that he did not yet have his billing rates established. It’s difficult enough for young solos to develop their own billing rate (see, Are you pricing for success (or failure)).  When you’re starting your own practice, hiring personnel is generally the last financial obligation on your mind.  A solo is used to doing everything alone.  It’s not until much later, when the pressure of growth starts to suffocate, that thoughts of billing … Continue reading

Are you pricing for success (or failure)?

Solo practitioners endure many challenges. They are the “go to” person for everything: They are their own IT person, supply person, mail clerk, secretary, paralegal, bookkeeper, and everything in between (in addition to providing legal services to their clients)! If you are, or have been, a solo, you already know this all too well. Juggling so many hats makes it difficult to grow a practice because so much time is spent on so many things other than marketing, networking, and practicing law. As a result, it’s not uncommon for solos to spend their career struggling to create a sustainable practice while others simply give up the solo life. Those who persevere and find themselves growing have even more pain points. At least for a while. There comes a point, though, when every entrepreneur realizes there are only so many hours in a day and that one person can only do … Continue reading

Forget Goals!

Happy New Year!  Again. It doesn’t seem long ago that I was writing a New Year’s post.  I’m not quite sure what happened to 2012, but it sure went by fast.  I had big plans for 2012.  What about you? My goals relied almost exclusively on the launch of a new website that was scheduled to roll out in January, 2012.  However, the project was delayed multiple times throughout the year.  The result was that all my “big plans” for 2012 were never pursued. Well, now I have big plans for 2013.  Yes, I do.  For the most part . . . the same ones from 2012.  Maybe in 2013 they’ll come to fruition.  How about yours? As 2012 was coming to an end, the frustration of being unable to pursue my 2012 goals trumped the importance of launching an amazing new website loaded with information and resources, so instead … Continue reading

Paralegal Support Services as Referral Sources

Paralegals, especially paralegal support providers, are one of attorneys’ top referral sources. When I worked in private practice, I knew the attorneys in the office where I worked, but could really only speak to the abilities of the attorneys I worked with directly.  In a general practice firm, I knew we had certain attorneys that worked in certain areas of law more than others did.  That was it though.  If someone asked me who I recommended as an attorney in a certain area of law, my ability to respond was sorely limited. When I worked in-house, I not only had the opportunity to work closely with my in-house attorneys, but attorneys in our other offices, as well as outside counsel and counsel from around the state (and sometimes beyond) who represented related-interest parties.  In this capacity, it was pretty easy to get a feel for which attorneys stood out from … Continue reading

How to Supervise a Legal Secretary or Paralegal

A couple weeks ago, Above the Law published an excellent article by New York attorney Joshua Stein. Mr. Stein’s article, From the Career Files: How to Supervise a Secretary or Assistant, is an excellent article well worth mentioning with 21 detailed tips and advice for effectively working with any type of assistant. The article is well-rounded, covering everything from communication to personal stuff. If you work with anyone, or are thinking about doing so, the article is worth taking the time to read. Even if you don’t, you may want to file it away for future reference. When you’re done reading it, come back and let us know what you think. What other tips or advice do you have for effective supervising?