Communication – The key to working successfully with a freelance paralegal (or anyone for that matter)

If you think about it, what’s the underlying cause of most disputes?  What’s a leading cause of failed relationships, both business and personal? Ineffective communication.  Period. Case-in-point: How many of us have had an argument or disagreement with a significant other where, when you reconcile your differences, you each realize that the other misunderstood what you were trying to say or did not have the same key information you did to be able to draw the same conclusion? Why can mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law be so effective?  Because they bring in neutral third parties, who are not blinded by emotion, to 1) extract all that has not been communicated before, 2) help minimize emotions, and 3) present the information in a way that the receiving party understands.  Even with individuals who communicate information well, when the receiver is communicating at a different level or from a different perception, misunderstandings … Continue reading

Interests and Preferences – What Are They?

My goal in starting a blog for attorneys was to address the questions attorneys regularly ask, such as: What does a paralegal do; How can I benefit from working with a paralegal; How can a freelance paralegal benefit me; and How do I go about working with a freelance paralegal? Of course, this multitude of topics puts me in a quandary each time I sit down to write, as there is so much information I want to share that I often spend significant time simply trying to decide which topic is most imperative.  So here’s my question to you: As an attorney looking for new solutions, what information are you most interested in? My other goal was to be informal and brief, so as to make information quickly ascertainable without too much time spent reading exceptionally long articles.  Knowing how limited attorneys are with their time, and aware of my … Continue reading

Ethics Focus: Signing Documents and Pleadings

You may recall from past posts what paralegals can and can’t do for their attorneys and what, in general, constitutes unauthorized practice of law (UPL)  — those things that a paralegal cannot do for you.  Today it is my honor to share with you a guest article from Vicki Voisin, ACP, that closely considers one of those responsibilities that cannot be delegated to your paralegal — signing.  Written for the paralegal audience, this article will still drive home the point and provide attorneys with valuable suggestions for alternative solutions in sticky situations. The Ethics of Signing Documents and Pleadings By Vicki Voisin, ACP Consider this scenario: You have been employed as a paralegal for the same attorney for several years. He happens to be out of town taking depositions. A deadline looms…a document absolutely has to be filed with the Court by 5:00 o’clock. No problem, you think. Your boss … Continue reading

Thanks, But We’re Not Hiring . . . Freelance Legal Professionals

Do you know the difference between an independent contractor and an employee? Maybe. That understanding is sometimes challenged, though, when those classifications are applied to members of the legal field. Admittedly, the concept of freelance legal professionals can be hard to grasp and is sometimes confused with employees. More than once I’ve heard an attorney say, “No, I’m not hiring” or, “Yes, I’m looking to hire” when talking with a freelance paralegal or freelance attorney. Hopefully, this post will help clarify the difference between an employee and a freelance legal professional. Freelance paralegals and freelance attorneys are independent contractors. In other words, they are business owners providing their professional services to solo practitioners, law firms, corporations, and governmental agencies. Freelance paralegals and freelance attorneys are not employees. They aren’t for hire. They’re not looking for employment (well, maybe some are but that’s not what they’re doing when they’re offering professional … Continue reading

Are There Benefits to Working with a Freelance Paralegal?

If you read the post, Why Would I need a Freelance Paralegal, you may wonder how a freelance paralegal can be a quick and cost-effective solution in some circumstances.  In other situations, you may wonder why you wouldn’t just hire an employee.  The answers to these questions I did not understand myself until I began working as a freelance paralegal.  I knew paralegal support services offered incredible benefits to attorneys but I had a hard time fully understanding certain benefits until I gained an in-depth understanding of the work itself.  So I give you here the answers to those questions, at least in brief. Freelance paralegal?  Why, when I can hire someone? Working with a freelance paralegal can be a great solution when hiring isn’t an option or doesn’t make sense.  A freelance paralegal may make more sense when: You don’t expect the need for additional support to last indefinitely; … Continue reading

Why Would I Need a Freelance Paralegal?

The question of why an attorney would need support has come up in the past.  And if you’re fortunate enough to always have a manageable caseload that never increases, never have competing deadlines, never worry about reducing overhead, cutting costs, or increasing your client base, and have paralegal(s) who are similarly not overworked, then the question is certainly a viable one. However, few of us live in a perfect world and all of us could use a little help at one time or other.  I know I could.  The post, “You’re a what?  Freelance Paralegals Defined” mentioned that a freelance paralegal can help you with your caseload when hiring isn’t an option as well as when delegating just one task would help immensely.  These aren’t the only times a freelance paralegal provides support; attorneys utilize freelance paralegals for a wide range of reasons.  What are those reasons? When a freelance … Continue reading