Need Help? Now what?

Many a time I’ve talked to attorneys who need help but have a hard time deciding what to delegate to a freelance paralegal or paralegal support service – even after talking with a provider.  It’s not an uncommon predicament, especially for sole practitioners, so here are a few ideas to help you move forward. If you’ve contacted a paralegal support service or freelance paralegal (remember, they’re really the same thing) because you know you need help, e.g., drafting confidentiality agreements or preparing trademark applications, then you’ve already identified specific tasks you’d like help with.  That’s exactly what you should delegate to the service.  If you’re uncomfortable moving forward with that, especially if it’s your first time using a paralegal support service, then give the paralegal two or three small projects on a trial basis just to get started.  That will help you build a work relationship with the service without … Continue reading

Supervising Virtual Paralegals

Under rules of professional responsibility and guidelines for the utilization of nonlawyer assistants, paralegals and legal assistants work under the direction and supervision of an attorney.  In other words, an attorney has a professional responsibility to direct and supervise the work of nonlawyer assistants.  Failure to do so can result in serious consequences for an attorney, so it’s no surprise that supervision is one of the first concerns when retaining a contract paralegal or paralegal support service.  (Another significant concern is that of confidentiality, which is not the subject of this particular article.)  If you’re using a contract paralegal or paralegal support service that provides on-site services, supervision isn’t much of an issue.  However, just as you don’t, most service-based businesses don’t work at their clients’ locations.  Rather, they perform their services from their own place of business.   If you know me, you know I don’t often use the … Continue reading

Contract Paralegals Help Agencies Alleviate Unprecedented Caseloads

This fourth and final article in the mini-series discussing the challenges various types of law practices face today considers quite possibly the most challenged of them all – agency legal departments. Previously discussed was the challenges faced by solo practitioners and small firms, law firms, and corporate legal departments. Of all these workplaces, local, state, and federal agencies and institutions grapple with some of the deepest budget cuts in our country and their legal departments, while taking on more and more work, are no exception. What challenges do these legal departments face? Unprecedented case loads An appreciable backlog of files Deep budget cuts Hiring freezes Insufficient staff The need to do more with less How does work get done under such extreme circumstances? Oftentimes it doesn’t; at least not right away. It’s a matter of dealing with each issue as it becomes an urgent matter of priority. Until then, it … Continue reading

Support Solutions for Budget-Constrained Corporate Legal Departments

Like law firms, corporate legal departments generally have plenty of office space, attorneys, paralegals, support staff, and benefits.  And, many of the challenges they face are the same challenges law firms face.  But as corporate legal departments, they also have some of their very own challenges.  Just as they do solos and law firms, paralegal support services compliment the corporate legal department’s unique needs. Challenges Corporate legal departments face: Increased workloads; Tighter budgets; An increase in the number of legal matters they’re charged with overseeing for the corporation; Significant increases in litigation costs; Limited resources, requiring them to maximize the use of the few resources they have; and A need to prove their value to the corporation. The solution More and more, corporate legal departments are turning to outsourcing to minimize cost and maximize value to their client (the corporation).  They outsource to try and mitigate increased workloads, to minimize … Continue reading

Paralegal Support for Law Firms

overwhelmed

In the last post, Benefits of Paralegal Support Services for Solo Practitioners and Small Firms, I mentioned that savings is the bottom-line with paralegal support services – whether in the form of time, business, or clients.  Really, that’s the case for each of the four types of practicing attorneys (solo/small firm attorneys, mid- to large-size firm attorneys, corporate attorneys, and public service attorneys) mentioned, even though each faces distinct challenges. This week, let’s consider briefly the challenges faced by attorneys in mid- to large-sized firms and how paralegals and paralegal support services help with those challenges. Challenges Larger firms already have it all:  Plenty of office space (most of the time) and equipment, partners, associates, paralegals, legal secretaries, support staff, office manager/bookkeeper, and even benefits.  What challenges could they possibly face? Growth (Congratulations!); Insufficient office space for more employees; The occasional spike in the number of active cases; Occasional conflicting … Continue reading

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