3 Signs You Need to Hire a Paralegal for Your Practice

By Robert Half on October 15, 2021 at 7:30am

No matter what size your legal practice is, increasing efficiency while keeping costs down is likely a top priority — and an ongoing juggling act — in today's highly competitive legal marketplace. Despite the pressure to control costs and respond to changing client dynamics, you may need to hire paralegal help to improve your bottom line.

Why hire a paralegal for your firm

It might sound counterintuitive, but hiring a paralegal — and adding another salary to your law firm's list of expenses — can be cost effective. How do you know when to consider such a move?

Discover these three revenue-draining signs that the time might be right to seek some paralegal help:

1. Time management issues

If you're regularly spending too much time on work that doesn't increase business for the firm and prevents you from focusing on the work your clients pay top dollar for, you should consider hiring a paralegal to take it on for you. It's especially common for attorneys who run their own practice or work in a small firm to think, "It's probably easier and faster if I just do these things myself."

Remember that every hour (or even fraction of an hour) you spend on activities like updating files, preparing for trials, gathering information — instead of actual casework, consultations or generating new clients — erodes your earnings potential. Learn to delegate these tasks to skilled legal support professionals.

2. Overloaded lawyers

Burdening busy and experienced attorneys in your organization with duties that would be more effectively handled by a paralegal hurts your firm's productivity. This pattern also undermines your company's ability to build revenue in two ways:

  • Lawyers can't focus on work that your firm can bill more for (see sign No. 1).
  • Lawyers have even less time to help the firm build new business and expand growing practice areas.

Another potential side effect of not hiring a paralegal: employee retention issues. Doing meaningful work is a top career concern for many attorneys. If you ask skilled lawyers on your team to assume responsibilities they do not find fulfilling and that don't make the best use of their abilities, you risk losing valued members of your team.

3. Unhappy clients

Your clients complaining about the quality of your service is the biggest red flag of all. If you and your existing team members can't balance your primary duties with tasks that can be just as well handled by a paralegal, client-service quality will inevitably suffer. And it won't take long for your clients to notice — and possibly decide to take their business elsewhere.

A cost-effective solution for law firms

If you're still uncertain whether hiring paralegal help makes good business sense, just look to the practices of leading law firms. One way top firms deliver more cost-effective services to their clients is by assembling teams of highly skilled paralegals to support lawyers.

Many law offices take a tried-and-true approach when hiring a paralegal: They initially engage them on a contract basis to determine whether their support is needed for the long term.

A reputable talent solutions firm can help you in hiring a legal support professional who meets your firm's specific needs and blends well with your corporate culture. One key advantage of working with a talent solutions firm is that it often has access to candidates who are not actively seeking employment but would consider making a move for the right opportunity. These are often the most experienced and knowledgeable (thus most highly sought-after) paralegals — just the type of professionals who can help your firm maintain its competitive edge.

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