A virtual paralegal is a game-changer for a legal practice that needs a second set of hands, but can’t afford to hire a full-time paralegal on staff. For solo and private practice law firms, they offer an ideal solution to many of the problems that emerge on a day-to-day basis. But are they a better option than freelance paralegal services?
Contract paralegals offer many benefits to legal practices of all shapes and sizes. These include:
- Increased billable hours
- Can scale as needed to your workload
- Handles the same work as a full-time paralegal
- Doesn’t require training – plug and play
- No benefits, insurance, or taxes
Virtual paralegals differ from contract paralegals in that they are, by their very name, virtual. This can be a benefit or a burden to law firms. For legal practices that work remotely, or find themselves travelling often, a virtual paralegal can be as flexible as your practice, performing duties no matter where your job takes you. For those who work best in brick-and-mortar settings, freelance paralegals can be a better choice.
Should I choose a virtual paralegal or a freelance paralegal? Before making a decision, it is important to ask yourself basic questions about the nature of your practice.
Do I Have a Lot of Paperwork?
One of the primary differentiators between hiring a virtual paralegal is that they choose where they work. Paperless law firms can benefit greatly from their services, as they don’t need to physically visit an office – it can all be handled from a computer.
However, many law firms – particularly those with legacy – depend on processing a great deal of paperwork. For these firms, virtual paralegals can only function in limited capacity. They cannot visit your office, and therefore cannot assist with these primary functions.
How does your legal practice operate? If some, or all, of your documents are stored in the cloud, a virtual paralegal can serve your business. If not, you may need to consider sourcing contract paralegals locally. Determine where your needs are served best, and base your decision around your workload rather than what is most convenient.
Does My Legal Field Require Extensive Knowledge of State Laws?
State and local laws vary dramatically from place to place. Being a paralegal is more than a jack of all trades – they must have implicit knowledge of how local laws will affect the handling of your case. A virtual paralegal can help assist with general tasks, but as they work from anywhere, they may be unfamiliar with specific information that is necessary to handle your tasks.
Hiring a full-time paralegal gives you confidence that they are well-equipped to handle the caseload you give them. While contract paralegal services can assign you staff that is suitable for your field, it is essential that they are familiar with state and local laws. Before hiring, ensure their familiarity with laws around your area.
A Virtual Paralegal Works for Some Firms – Most Benefit from Freelance Paralegals
As we enter the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, lawyers that have been working from home find themselves re-entering the office. During this time, many brick-and-mortar paralegals found themselves working virtually, forced to adapt to new practices.
Your firm may have had to completely rewrite the playbook on how cases are managed. For offices that had gone paperless, the transition to working from home was significantly easier. Some firms had to adopt that model in order to survive.
With many Americans weighing the pros and cons of returning to the office, solo and private law firms have to make a decision that is right for their business. Virtual paralegals can provide immense benefits for those not ready to return. Before making this decision however, consider the value of in-office work. Do you need a paralegal to be physically present while you work?
Alternative Legal Service Providers (or ALSPs) can provide law firms like yours with the assistance that you need, when you need it. Hiring locally is generally more desirable, as their needs are more flexible around yours.
Amata Law Office Suites Offers Paralegal Services, and Much More
At Amata Law Office Suites, we are more than just an office space. At the core of our business, we are a leading provider of shared law office space for lawyers. We understand that providing leading office solutions for solo and private law firms also requires having tools at hand to solve common problems in the legal profession.
With features like contract paralegals and live legal receptionist services built into our model, lawyers at Amata have everything they need to generate more billable hours and meet the needs of clients. Instead of paying by the hour, our staff charges for actually time spent on work, ensuring that every dime is spent on your clients’ legal matters.