Having Trouble Staffing Paralegal Jobs? There's Good Reason

An empty chair and desk

Caseloads are rising, client dynamics are changing, and you need to expand your legal support staff fast to meet these challenges and help your core team stay productive. But you can't find sufficiently skilled professionals to staff the paralegal jobs available at your firm. What's going on?

The short answer is that the best paralegals are in high demand. Healthcare, corporate law, litigation and compliance are just some of the areas that have been driving growth in paralegal jobs lately. And according to the Robert Half Legal Salary Guide, insurance and financial services companies and real estate firms are also among the businesses looking to capitalize on the varied skills of today's paralegals.

Paralegal jobs are evolving

Another reason it's difficult to find candidates for paralegal jobs is that these jobs have changed. Paralegal jobs are much more complex than they used to be and now often include the types of responsibilities that were traditionally assigned to associates and even partners. This is a cost-cutting strategy by their employers: By allocating work that doesn't require a licensed lawyer to paralegals, law firms are able to offer clients more cost-effective services.

eDiscovery is also having a significant impact on paralegal jobs. Law firms maintaining leaner legal teams need paralegals and other support personnel to take the lead on document collection, review and production — tasks previously handled by junior-level lawyers. Cloud computing, social media and other emerging technologies are also transforming paralegal jobs.

All of these trends mean that candidates for today's paralegal jobs must meet some very high expectations. Research by Robert Half Legal shows that many legal employers seek professionals with more than five years of experience, a bachelor's degree and a certificate of completion from a paralegal education program approved by the American Bar Association. Additionally, many want candidates for paralegal jobs to also bring specialized knowledge and advanced technical skills to the table. And of course, interpersonal skills are a must.

Salary isn't everything, but it can sure help you recruit and retain paralegals.Read our tips for staying competitive with pay.

Consider tapping an expert resource

No doubt your job descriptions include some or all of the criteria outlined above. So what can your organization do to find skilled candidates? Working with a staffing firm that serves the legal industry, like Robert Half Legal, could be a good move for you. A legal recruiter can help you find highly skilled professionals for paralegal jobs as well as for a wide range of other in-demand legal positions. Whether you need to fill temporary or full-time paralegal jobs, a specialized staffing firm can be a strong ally.

Additionally, building a strong relationship with a legal recruiter can help you stay competitive with salaries offered by other employers. With so many firms looking to fill paralegal jobs, an attractive salary is becoming more of a factor in recruiting and retaining professionals with the desired expertise and range of skills. By working with a reputable staffing firm that conducts respected industry research, you can become more attuned to hiring and salary trends in your local market, not only for paralegal jobs but also for other legal roles you need to fill.