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    Re: Independent Paralegal Services for Lawyers

    Posted by Glenda Green on 11/30/06

    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
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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
    > is nothing else to do at the moment. This is where the
    > cost-effectiveness of an independent contractor paralegal
    > 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
    > 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
    > 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
    > costs (copying charges), is both cost and time efficient
    > 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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