Thursday, August 6, 2009

Benefits of a Virtual Paralegal

Guest Blog Contributed by Kristina Duncan

I appreciate the opportunity to chat with my colleagues in employment law.

Under the current economic conditions, with the employment picture still deteriorating, I thought you might find it useful to reflect for a moment on employment and efficiency in your firms. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that your workload in increasing as employers find creative ways to discharge employees, resulting in legal action in certain circumstances.

Looking at your practice from my angle as a virtual paralegal, perhaps we “virtuals” are a source of efficiency and cost management that you may not have considered previously. As the costs of both layoff and hiring in law firms come to the fore in difficult times, well-managed use of virtual paralegals can be a source of powerful cost saving that can go right to your firm’s bottom line.

For example, one headache a firm faces is that of estimating staffing requirements accurately. Underestimate, and you could miss business opportunities, overshoot, and your costs jump and profit suffers. Virtuals can help smooth the load because they can be brought aboard quickly, are well-trained, and are on your clock only for assigned tasks. This is why the cost management potential is so great.

For attorneys in smaller firms, or in solo practice, staffing management takes a different form. You may have more work, but you don’t want to commit to the fully-loaded cost of another employee. There is an answer for that. Or the sole practitioner may have serious need for more help, but an in-house paralegal doesn’t pencil out. There is an answer for that, also.

I think the primary payoff here is that, in these troubled times, we in the legal profession can work together to increase firm efficiency, resulting in an improved bottom line, and savings for clients. Effective use of virtual support can contribute significantly to attaining these objectives.

Post comments on your concerns about what I’ve said here. I’ll be happy to answer them.