If you need to replenish or reconfigure your legal team in the wake of the pandemic, consider hiring a paralegal or legal assistant instead of an associate.
You might save money and boost your bottom line without missing a beat.
“Your solo or small law firm is busier than ever and you desperately need another warm body to complete the work,” writes attorney Roy Ginsburg in this post for Attorney at Work. “Resist the knee-jerk reaction to hire another lawyer. Instead, assess whether hiring a paralegal can fill the need. You’ll find that in most practice areas it can.”
Have you checked out The Pro Practice Playbook? This free, online legal resource is chock-full of tips, pointers and checklists for building a safe and successful law practice. Chapters include: Forming Your Firm, Managing Your Firm, Marketing Your Firm, Getting and Keeping Great Clients, Fees and Billing, Expertise, and Technology & Security. The Pro Practice Playbook is free and available 24/7 to all lawyers and firms insured through Alta Pro Insurance Services. Click here to start using The Pro Practice Playbook and all the other benefits of membership in the Alta Pro Risk Purchasing Group (RPG). Get started now.
3 Ways a Paralegal Can Help Your Firm
- You can save money on salaries while increasing your billables. “[P]aralegals can be as much of a profit center as the best grinder lawyer,” writes Ginsburg. “Good paralegals can do research, communicate with clients, and draft letters, emails and memos. Some can even do these tasks better than lawyers. And the time it takes to do these things can be billed just like a lawyer.”
- Managing your office might be easier. “Let’s face it, many lawyers think they know everything and don’t take orders all that well,” writes Ginsburg. “They can be quite difficult to manage. Anecdotally, I can tell you from my coaching and consulting experience that it’s the rare owner who complains to me about an underperforming paralegal. Likewise, it’s the rare owner who doesn’t complain to me about an underperforming lawyer.”
- Paralegals can’t quit and compete against you. “[W]hen help is needed, the first thing to consider is hiring a paralegal.” writes Ginsburg. “Of course, there are some practice areas where a paralegal is not suitable… Really good paralegals are worth their weight in gold.”
ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 5.3 Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistance
(a) a partner, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;
(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and
(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a person that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:
(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or
(2) the lawyer is a partner or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the person, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action.
Source: Attorney at Work
If you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan, you can stay on top of ethics and risk management news by being a member of Alta Pro Lawyers RPG. You’ll get access to free webinars, the Pro Practice Playbook, Reminger ProLink, Ask the Risk Pro and more. Here’s how to join.