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    Re: Independent Paralegal Services for Lawyers

    Posted by Penelope Long on 10/11/08

    I am a contract/freelance paralegal doing business in the San
    Diego area and have a book coming out called "Freelancing to
    Freedom - A Guide for Paralegals."

    For more information, please visit my website:

    n 11/30/06, Glenda Green wrote:
    > Can you give me any suggestions on how to start my freelance
    > paralegal business? I have been a certified paralegal for 8
    > years and have worked for the government for 18 years. I
    > want to be able to retire early in about a year or so, so I
    > want to get my business off the ground and profiting by
    > then. Thanks for any help you can give. I am in the
    > Atlanta area.
    > On 7/02/05, Liz Miller, Independent Paralegal wrote:
    >> How Can Contract Paralegal Services Benefit Your Practice?
    >> A freelance or contract paralegal is one that is
    >> self-employed and available to take on short term, long
    >> term, per diem or per case projects with no committments
    >> beyond any commissioned assignment. These services can
    >> range from assisting with litigation preparation, covering
    >> employee absences, or coming to an attorneys’ office to
    > pick
    >> up files or overflow work and are generally much less
    >> expensive, and more reliable than other sources of
    >> temporary help.
    >> I read an article recently in which a freelance
    > paralegal
    >> was quoted describing the independent contract paralegal
    >> perfectly. She said, “those of us who freelance have
    >> usually had years of experience within the legal profession
    >> and understand there is far more to being a legal secretary
    >> than answering phones and that paralegals are much more
    >> capable (and much more valuable) than reviewing files and
    >> documents. We did not become freelancers on a wing and a
    >> prayer. We have to do what a service business does - we
    >> present ourselves with credibility and experience and all
    > we
    >> have to offer is our time and our knowledge. We also know
    >> the limits of our skills and we know what the job really
    >> entails.” (author unknown)
    >> I have been a paralegal for almost 26 years, and
    > have spent
    >> the better part of the last 16 years working as an
    >> independent paralegal trying to make attorneys understand
    >> how an independent contractor, be it a paralegal, legal
    >> secretary or some other support staff person, can benefit
    >> their practice. One day I had the opportunity to talk to a
    >> defense attorney who shared with me how he convinced his
    >> partners of the financial benefits of employing a contract
    >> paralegal. I realized from talking to him that most
    >> attorneys do not see the big picture. I’d like to share it
    >> with you.
    >> We all know that the joke about defense work is that
    > they
    >> get paid by the pound, but, of course, someone has to
    >> generate the work. So now you have a full-time salaried
    >> paralegal, and there is a lull in the work. Non- party
    >> subpoenas are out, discovery hasn’t come in, you cannot get
    >> anything scheduled and there is little to no work to bill.
    >> The paralegal is filing or doing clerical work because
    > there
    >> is nothing else to do at the moment. This is where the
    >> cost-effectiveness of an independent contractor paralegal
    > or
    >> any support staff member becomes invaluable. If you retain
    >> the services of a contract paralegal to work defense (or
    >> any) files, and that paralegal is only getting paid when
    >> billable work is generated, the firm is in a win/win
    >> situation. Let’s suppose the firm is billing their client
    >> $75 an hour for paralegal time, and paying the paralegal
    >> $25/hour. If the paralegal bills 40 hours a week, she
    >> earns $1,000 and the law firm earns $3000. Add into the
    >> equation the flexibility of not having to pay the contract
    >> paralegal unless she is billing time, no overhead, no
    >> health benefits, vacation time, sick time, or taxes to
    > pay -
    >> this turns into a profitable way for the law firm to
    >> outsource their work and increase the firm’s revenues
    >> without interrupting the continuity of the work or the
    >> paralegal’s familiarity with your files.
    >> The equation works a little differently in other
    > areas of
    >> law, but it can still be a financial benefit for the firm.
    >> If you establish an ongoing rapport with a contractor who
    >> knows and agrees up front that they will be employed only
    >> when there is work, and you do not have to provide a desk,
    >> computer, telephone or copier for her to work, you can
    > still
    >> have office continuity and not expend any revenues for time
    >> when no revenues are being generated for the firm by that
    >> paralegal’s work. In the case of the plaintiff’s practice,
    >> files that are sitting in a cabinet that need settlement
    >> demands or medical malpractice notices of intent or
    >> complaints prepared are not generating revenues for the
    > firm
    >> either. If the staff is too busy which can happen since
    >> plaintiff’s offices can be extremely busy due to extensive
    >> and sometimes daily client contact, contracting a paralegal
    >> to prepare these documents keeps the cases moving and
    >> enables you to generate fees through settlements.
    >> Contracting that work to a paralegal who can pick up a file
    >> and write a settlement demand for a nominal fee exclusive
    > of
    >> costs (copying charges), is both cost and time efficient
    > for
    >> the firm. Although in plaintiff’s cases the fees for a
    >> contract paralegal cannot be billed to the client as an
    >> expense, it is worth the investment of sometimes as little
    >> as $125 plus costs to get a case into demand and get it
    >> settled. Again, all you are paying for is work that is
    >> being done - with no added overhead expenses. Running a law
    >> firm is expensive with salaries, and the cost of benefits,
    >> overhead, etc. Utilizing contractors can help you to
    >> maximize your productivity and still keep your operating
    >> expenses under control.
    >> Liz Miller
    >> Independent Paralegal
    >> 813-340-9569
    >> 26 years experience as a paralegal specializing in personal
    >> injury, med mal, nursing home, tort litigation, bankruptcy,
    >> family law, sinkhole and toxic tort litigation, trial work,
    >> legal research and brief writing

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