In the world of technology and freelancing, remote workers can be seen in numerous industries, including the law system. The International Virtual Assistants Association classifies virtual paralegals as independent contractors who support multiple clients from a remote location, usually their home, offering technical and administrative services. The offsite paralegals are trained to provide support to law firms and lawyers having the necessary experience and education to facilitate services from afar.
Some virtual assistants choose to work only on a remote basis, while others split their work between office and home. No matter where they decide to work from, virtual paralegals still have to be under the direct supervision of a lawyer, depending on the client workload. Virtual paralegals can handle many of the legal services such as drafting correspondence, preparing form pleadings and filling documents so that the lawyers have the necessary resources and time to focus on more strategic projects.
Benefits of Using a Virtual Paralegal
For smaller firms, one of the advantages of hiring a virtual paralegal is that there are paid only for the time they provide their services and are not employed full time. This means that the employer does not have to handle overhead costs such as vacation time, sick days, worker’s compensation, health and dental insurance, job training, office space or payroll taxes. Using an offsite paralegal can increase a law firm’s competitive edge and boost its revenue.
A virtual paralegal is paid based on his performance and results, which is why many paralegals are committed to putting forward top quality services and are dedicated to their work. Usually, a paralegal is trained in a specific niche of the law and this increases their productivity and value.
If you need something solved in the evening or during the weekend or if you have an urgent project that has to be handled immediately, you can easily find a virtual paralegal to handle this. A VP offers you the flexibility that an in-office paralegal cannot.
Range of Services
Today, paralegals do not only come down to perform legal functions. They can offer a variety of other necessary tasks such as management and law practice support, including collections, billing, client management, firm marketing, digital file management and other office related duties.
Tips When Hiring a Virtual Paralegal
As with any other employee, before you hire a virtual paralegal, you have to make sure that you make a smart choice.
• Check Credentials
With such a sensitive nature of legal work, you should make sure that the VP you want to hire is either credentialed or certified or has been recommended by a reliable virtual assistant provider.
• Protect Data
The biggest reason for data breaches is employee negligence and working with a VP means sharing sensitive or confidential information online. Take the adequate measures to assure that your virtual paralegal employs best practices to protect the client’s electronic and physical data and your law firm.
• Check Availability
A virtual paralegal has multiple clients, so if you have a project that will take a more considerable amount of time to be finalized, make sure you let your VP know ahead of time. Do not just assume that an offsite paralegal will be as flexible as you require or that he is always available for your tasks.
• Make Your Expectations Known
Inform your paralegal beforehand if you only need someone to file documents for a few hours per week or if you need a person to complete large-scale projects and to be on call 40 hours per week.
No matter need an offsite paralegal for a temporary project or a long-term solution, hiring a VP would be a significant move for your law firm or you as a lawyer and the benefits numerous. But the key to a successful collaboration is to have a perfectly organized infrastructure, to do your research and to know what projects to assign.
Maida B. is a paralegal working at The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary. Maida has an experience of more than 16 years and she has worked in the field of wrongful death, medical malpractice, product liability, premise liability and complex personal injury for both defense and plaintiff.