Benefits of Paralegal Support Services For Solo Practitioners and Small Firms

Of the four major types of attorney practices (solos/small firms, mid- to large-sized firms, corporate legal departments, and governmental entities), solo practitioners and attorneys in small firms face the most challenges. Yet, for these attorneys, solo practices and small firms can also be the most rewarding, both personally and professionally. Challenges What’s the biggest challenge?  You’re on your own.  And, there are only so many hours in a day. Not only are you trying to practice law, you’re also learning how to run a business (which they don’t teach you in law school) and handling everything yourself.  Solos and small firm attorneys are responsible for every aspect of the practice: Building and managing a business, marketing, client retention, budgeting, bookkeeping, filing, faxing, copying – all in addition to providing legal services to clients (what you went to law school for in the first place).  When you’re alone, it’s hard to … Continue reading

Evolution of Legal Support Services

As promised in the article How to Find the Right Support, here’s an explanation of how all those support titles evolved. The concept of working remotely or “virtually” is not new; what is new is the technology used to carry out and deliver the work. Of course, the term “virtual” has new meaning in a world now totally connected through technology.  However, the terms “virtual attorney” and “virtual paralegal” actually reflect the evolution of an existing group of independent professionals.  Attorneys and paralegals have been offering support from their own offices to attorneys and law firms for many, many years.  (The first time I offered support from my own office was in 1998.)  We once were referred to as contract paralegals and attorneys or, simply, independent contractors.  More recently, we have been (and are still) frequently referred to as freelancers.  Now, with the virtual world we live in, the terms … 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

What to Expect When You Retain Paralegal Support Services or a Freelance Paralegal

So you’re interested in retaining a freelance paralegal or paralegal support services but just don’t know what to expect.  Really, it depends on your business model. If you already work remotely, work with remote clients, or outsource various aspects of your practice – such as bookkeeping – to other service professionals, you won’t find much difference (if any) in working with a freelance paralegal.  Paralegal support services will nicely compliment your existing business model.  Even if your current setup isn’t designed for remote case collaboration or securely sharing confidential information, the freelance paralegal you choose will (okay, should) have that system already in place.  It’s a key question to ask every service provider you talk with. If your business model takes the more traditional approach, then retaining a freelance paralegal for paralegal support services can best be analogized with the retention of an accountant or outside counsel: You retain them … Continue reading

Getting the Support You Need; it’s Easy!

Have you thought about retaining the services of a freelance paralegal or attorney but stopped short because you’re just not sure how in the world it works? If you have, or are getting to that point, you’re in good company.  When considering freelance legal services, it’s one of the top questions attorneys have.  It’s also a question I, as do other legal freelancers, address regularly when talking about support options for attorneys and law firms. During the past year I have had the opportunity to work regularly with one of the visionaries for legal freelance networking, Melody Kramer – owner of Kramer Law Office, founder of FreelanceLaw, co-founder of the National Association of Freelance Legal Professionals (NAFLP), and freelance attorney – through the NAFLP and together in the freelancer’s quest to educate attorneys and law firms about freelance legal professionals and alternative solutions to receiving support and reducing clients’ legal … Continue reading

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