Paralegals serve a critical function in larger law firms, providing client work at a billable hour but lower rate for clients, and freeing up the attorney’s time to work on more complex matters. But can contract paralegals offer the same benefits to solo and partner practice law firms?
Billable Hours & Paralegals Explained
Billable hours are the foundation for revenue for many law firms and attorneys. To increase your potential revenue, then, you have to increase the amount of billable hours in any given year. Extending the day cycle and adjusting the turn of the Earth is not an option, so many firm hire paralegals, who can perform client work and be billed back to the client. Yet recruiting full-time paralegals is costly, particularly for private practice law firms with fluctuating needs.
Many solo and partner practice law firms choose to forgo the assistance, but doing the work of a paralegal by yourself can cut into the firm’s bottom line. Additionally, other firms may be offering the same services at a lower cost because they are using the paralegals with lower billable rates on part of the casework.
While larger firms have the resources to take on a full-time staff member, and use them to their full-advantage, on-demand paralegal services (also referred to as freelance or contract paralegals) offer private practice law firms an alternative that is budget friendly.
What is a Contract Paralegal?
While a full-time paralegal is a permanent part of your law firm, a contract or freelance paralegal works on behalf of a licensed attorney for a specified period of time or specific case matter. They will only be paid for the work that they perform, usually by an hourly rate. Some concierge paralegal services only specialize in certain types of tasks and practice areas, while others can handle a variety of client work.
Generally speaking, a contract paralegal can perform the same tasks as any other paralegal, including:
- Drafting procedures, correspondence, and policies
- Researching memoranda
- Reviewing and assisting in payment processing of different invoices received from legal vendors
- Conducting advertisement reviews
- Creating case reports
- Handling special projects whenever assigned
- Responding to counsel requests on time
- Performing multiple duties whenever assigned to assist the chief legal officer in managing the company's legal affairs
Before hiring a contract paralegal, make sure that they are equipped to handle the tasks you are assigning them. Some research may be necessary before hiring a paralegal to work freelance for your firm to ensure they are experienced in your practice area.
Benefits of Contract Paralegals
Among the benefits of using contract paralegals, cost savings ranks highest on the list. And the cost-savings are two-fold:
- You keep overhead low by not taking on a full-time employee
- The client saves money by having a lower rate paralegal perform their work, giving your rates a competitive edge
If you’re working on a large matter that requires more staff than your firm has on hand, your team can quickly upsize to take on the expanded workload, and then easily downsize once the project is done. On-demand paralegals fluctuate with your need, making it attractive for case-specific matters.
Contract paralegals have already been vetted by the ALSP (alternative legal service provider) they work on behalf of. There’s no need to look at a pile of resumes to find the right person, as their skills have already been qualified and the ALSP will know the right personnel for the job. As ALSPs depend on quality of service to operate, you can rest assured that their skills will match with your case needs. They are professionals who know how to help your legal practice.
Easy Client Billing
Since the paralegal performed billable work, and sent you an invoice, billing your client back is very simple. You simply mark up the service costs and apply to your own invoice structure before billing back.
Amata’s Legal Support Staff
Contract paralegals can provide an immeasurable amount of assistance to law firms, particularly smaller practices who don’t have the resource cushion to build out a team in-house. Using freelance paralegal services can help your business without cutting into your bottom line.
Aside from being a leading provider in shared office space for law firms in the Chicago area, Amata also offers services like contract paralegals and live legal receptionist services—both can be added onto existing programs or used as standalone services. Rather than paying by the hour, our staff charges for actually time spent on work, ensuring that every dime is spent on your clients’ legal matters.
Amata Law Office Suites is more than just an office space: it is an all-encompassing solution for legal practitioners that offers the benefits of a larger law firm at prices solo practitioners can afford. Contact us today more information about our services.