Solo and private legal practices often find themselves asking the perennial question of when to hire law firm staff.

You landed that case, the one with the prestigious client who could bring the firm a good deal of future work. Your firm's attorneys are ready but this engagement will require hours of researching memoranda and creating reports and the client doesn’t want to pay the hourly rate of a lawyer for these kinds of activities. Realistically, you only have time to directly address the issues that need your expertise anyway.

A paralegal is key to your success. Hiring full-time staff would solve the problem, but do you have the time to find the right people? And can you justify the cost?

Contracting paralegal and legal admin services from an alternative legal services provider (ALSP) like Amata Law Office Suites could save you time and allow you to present impressive costs for high-quality work, ensuring this client continues working with your firm. And potentially getting you some referrals for work well done.

When to Hire Law Firm Staff, and When to Outsource From an ALSP

Time Management

Hiring the right paralegal for the project involves vetting the candidate’s expertise in the area of need. Are you confident you can find the right person for the job? Time is money; every hour you spend recruiting a capable paralegal is a billable hour lost. Once you make the right hire, onboarding that person also takes time. A full-time individual needs to become acquainted with everyone in your practice, your current clients as well as other support staff.

By contracting with an ALSP like Amata Law Office Suites, you'll find professional, previously vetted, support staff (secretarial and paralegal services) ready to partner with you on an as-needed, pay-as-you-go basis. Developing relationships with Amata’s professional paralegals ensures you have the best person available for the client’s needs when that client returns with another project.

Monetary Considerations

Cost of Experience

Employing full-time certified paralegals and/or legal admin staff increases both your direct and indirect costs.

Direct expenses like...

  • salary
  • payroll taxes
  • employee benefits (such as insurance)

And indirect costs that increase as staff increases such as...

  • office space
  • equipment
  • software licenses

If you want a solid member to join your team, it's going to mean much higher salaries as well. The Amata paralegal team, for instance boasts an average of 27 years of experience (as of 2020) and they specialize in certain areas of law. Expertise means they can excute items quickly and accurately for your clientelle, but that costs more money than an entry level paralegal. For solo and private practice firms, taking on the salaries that accompany this level of support and experience is not an option.

Since ALSPs charge for work done, however, you can receive this experience at a cost that is affordable. Plus, an experienced team can execute documents quickly. It may only take a staff member fifteen minutes to complete the work you need, which means you're only billed for those fiftenn minutes. And you can bill your clients back for the work.

Cost of a Bad Hire

But the after-hire expenses represent only part of the cost. The U.C. Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment estimates recruiting costs for a new employee can range from $2,000 to $7,000. Ongoing expenses include the employer’s portion of FICA, 7.65% of the employee’s annual salary, healthcare coverage, unemployment insurance, and retirement benefits.

And what is the cost of a bad hire? The U. S. Department of Labor recently listed the average cost of a bad hiring decision at a minimum of 30% of the individual’s first year salary. In legal work, your service is your brand; a bad hire can turn away clients and leave you repairing a damaged reputation. It can also bring more of a headach to you as you try to manage inexperienced staff, versus having an experienced staff member who is only an asset.

Hiring Takes Work!

Unless you practice employment law (and are already well versed), you, as an employer of full-time staff, must now also stay current on HR policies. The legal requirements change from time to time; medical benefits need explanation and annual review, sexual harassment training is required by certain states. Plus, personnel problems can arise. Managing a larger staff adds complexity. You can avoid this work by contracting an ALSP like Amata Legal Office Suites to handle work instead of hiring yourself.

Before you decide to hire a full-time paralegal, legal admin, and/or receptionist, consider how your firm can benefit from contracting with an ALSP.  Gain the trust of that important client while saving time, money, and work by contracting with Amata Legal Office Suites. We provide impressive office spaces, and well-vetted paralegal and legal admin services. Contact us today for more information about our services.

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