Outsourcing Paralegal Work: Why Remote Paralegals Are The Future Of Legal
The demands of modern legal departments tend to fluctuate significantly based upon any number of factors in play at any moment in time. As a result, staffing choices require a certain level of flexibility.
As the founder of a platform that connects businesses to legal help, I’ve seen that outsourcing paralegal work helps to ensure that staffing quality remains high whether demand for support staff is high or low at any given moment.
Additionally, outsourcing paralegal services, as I discussed further in a recent article, can significantly help a legal department of any size protect the integrity of its operations while serving its company’s bottom line.
Paralegal Work: The Basics
Paralegals are valuable assets to any legal team. Unlike licensed attorneys, they can’t give legal advice or perform duties that only licensed attorneys are given the legal right to perform. However, they can engage in a number of necessary and important activities that benefit clients.
By delegating these tasks to paralegals, licensed attorneys on the team are granted more time to focus on the kind of work only they are permitted to do. Much like a nurse takes care of patient intake, monitor vitals, dispense medication and provide patient care so that doctors can focus on diagnostic and treatment matters, paralegals perform necessary client-related tasks so that lawyers can focus their time and energy on advocating for the best interests of their clients.
Paralegals receive supervision from licensed attorneys. They may communicate with clients, but in doing so, they must make clear that they are not attorneys. Some of the many tasks paralegal services shoulder include:
• Legal, investigatory, documentary and statistical research.
• Client and witness interviews.
• General client contact and communication tasks.
• Legal documentation, pleadings and correspondence drafting.
Paralegal work is highly valuable but less specialized than the work attorneys do. As a result, paralegal services are billed at a lower hourly rate than the services of attorneys. This is another reason why so many law firms and businesses hire paralegals: They often do necessary, informed work while saving the business money and the lawyers on the team time to focus on their specialized work.
Why Outsource Paralegal Work?
When law firms and businesses are considering their paralegal needs, a host of factors must be weighed. Every company has different legal needs at different times. This is one of the reasons it can be difficult to figure out how many paralegals to have on staff.
If a legal department hires too many paralegals, there may not be enough work available to justify the costs associated with their pay and benefits. If a legal department lacks access to enough paralegal “muscle,” highly compensated lawyers must divert time away from their specialized work to cover the task ordinarily delegated to paralegals.
Legal departments rarely take on levels of work and activity that can be classified as “steady.” Some legal work, such as tax preparation, governmental reporting and compliance matters, is largely seasonal. Case work and legal actions can lead to dramatic increases and decreases in staffing needs over the course of a year.
Similarly, when lawyers and paralegals on staff take advantage of vacation time or need to take temporary leave for professional, medical or personal reasons, gaps in staffing can be difficult to fill on a temporary or semi-permanent basis. Fluctuations in a legal department’s staffing needs make it difficult to know just how many paralegals to hire at any given time.
Thankfully, the American workplace has become increasingly flexible over the past two decades. Advances in technology and hiring models make it easier than ever to meet staffing needs in ways that make sense for each unique business.
For example, outsourcing paralegal work is a trend that is transforming the ways legal departments operate. Some companies find that outsourcing all of their paralegal needs better serves their staffing needs and bottom line. Especially when legal departments are small, it may not make sense to keep even a single paralegal on staff full time.
How To Effectively Outsource Paralegal Work
Legal departments that are larger and do keep paralegals on staff are discovering that outsourcing “overflow” paralegal work during times of heavy need and/or taking advantage of outsourcing opportunities when regular staffers are on leave is an excellent way to keep a legal team focused, balanced, efficient and effective.
Outsourcing paralegal services allows a team to remain flexibly staffed as needs ebb and flow while maintaining an informed, high-quality work product. The first step to successful outsourcing is understanding your business needs.
• If you're a results-driven company and you value the outcome of the work, hiring someone you don't see in person every day can be a plus.
• If you're a small business owner who prioritizes connection and communication, make sure there are clear channels to stay connected.
• If you’re looking for a paralegal to work closely with a team and you prefer being more hands-on in overseeing work direction, an in-person, part-time or full-time hire may be more suitable for your needs.
By choosing to outsource paralegal services, businesses can meet their needs without incurring the costs associated with over-staffing.
FORBES YECCOUNCIL POST
By Raad Ahmed