Do you have a hard time delegating? It’s understandable because you have always done everything yourself. You are just used to it. However, when you reach the point when you have too much work to do and not enough hours in the day to do it, you need to delegate. Even though you know you should delegate, are you still making excuses not to? These are the most common ones:
I can’t delegate because you are not in my office: As a virtual paralegal, I have heard this one several times. Maybe you feel you don’t have as much control over the work if it’s done outside your office. Or maybe you think it’s quicker to delegate if the person is right in front of you. It’s not when you follow the tips below.
I can do it quicker than you: This may be true at first, but if you delegate the same tasks on a daily basis, the person you delegate it to will get used to it and become faster at it…maybe faster than you.
You don’t work the same way I do: What you should keep in mind here is the end result, not the way used to achieve it.
I can do it because it’s quick and easy: You’re right, but if you combine all the quick and easy tasks you do throughout the day, it amounts to a good chunk of time you could have spent developing leads or doing substantive work.
Delegating is expensive: How much is your time worth? If your time is worth more than the time of the person you delegate to than go ahead and delegate. You will save time and money.
Do you still think your reasons for not delegating are valid? If so, let’s see what the consequences are:
As you can see, there may be risks when delegating, but they outweigh the consequences. If you are finally ready to delegate, here are some tips that may help you:
It’s time to let go and rise above your delegation fears. The end result will be positive for both your business and yourself.
Thanks to the General Practice Solo Small Firm Section of the Florida Bar, I attended my first legal tech seminar last week. On Day 1, the speakers talked about courtroom technology, e-discovery, social media and blog ethics, Microsoft Office, PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat. Day 2 was mostly on practice management. There was also an interesting conference on social media discovery and jury selection. I learned a lot and met great attorneys and paralegals. For those who couldn’t make it, these are my favorite tips of the Wild Wild Tech Seminar:
The GPSSF Section will host another legal tech seminar next January. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to keep up with legal technology and trends.
A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about Fastcase and Casemaker, two low cost alternatives to Westlaw and LexisNexis for solo practitioners and small law firms. Attorneys and paralegals can use another legal research tool to find case law and legal articles: Google Scholar. And it’s free!
As you’ll read below, you can’t only use Google Scholar to perform legal research and cancel your paid subscription to other legal research providers. But if you want to save your client money, use Google Scholar first to see what you can find. Here are some Google Scholar FAQs for legal research.
What is Google Scholar?
Google Scholar is a search engine for scholarly literature covering different disciplines and sources. You can look for articles, theses, books, abstracts and case law from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other websites.
What is the extent of the legal coverage?
Google Scholar covers federal and state cases, plus legal articles.
What are the benefits?
As I mentioned above, it is free. However, if you want to read the full text of legal articles, you may have to subscribe to the academic website. Another advantage of Google Scholar is that it includes limited unreported cases. Email alerts for new cases and the option to create a library are my favorite features.
What are the cons?
Google Scholar does not include statutes. Its citation service is not as good as Shepard’s or KeyCite because it does not show if the case is good law and how subsequent courts have treated it.
How do you search case law?
On Google Scholar’s homepage, type in keywords relevant to your legal issue. Under your keywords, click on case law and select the court(s). When you are on the search result page, you can filter case law by date and again by court. Under each case, you can find how to cite it pursuant to Bluebook rules by clicking on “Cite.” To read a case, click on it. At the top left-hand corner of the case, click on “How cited” to find subsequent authorities that have cited the case. The horizontal bars next to the “Cited by” case names represent the depth of discussion of the searched case.
Unlike Westlaw or LexisNexis, Google Scholar only uses the connector AROUND. According to Eric Voigt from R+W Legal Consultants, you can only use the word AROUND to search for a term that appears after another term. As an example, if you type “email AROUND(5) official AROUND(10) record”, Google Scholar will find cases where “official” appears within 5 words after “email” and where “record” appears within 10 words after “email” and “official.” Eric Voigt also explains that AROUND must be capitalized, have no space between it and the parenthetical and include quotation marks around the entire search string. Lastly, AROUND only connects individual words, not phrases.
How do you search legal articles?
On Google Scholar’s homepage, type in keywords relevant to your legal issue. Under your keywords, click on “Articles.” When you are on the search result page, you can filter your articles by date. Under each article, you can find how to cite it pursuant to Bluebook rules by clicking on “Cite.” You can also find if it was cited by other articles or case law. To read an article, click on it. It will bring you to the publisher or the academic website where you will find whether you have to subscribe.
How do you create an email alert?
Creating an email alert for new case law or legal articles is simple. When you are on the search result page, on the left sidebar, click on “Create an alert” where you will provide your email address.
How do you create a library?
First, you have to enable your library by clicking on “My library” on Google Scholar’s homepage. Then when you are on the search result page, under each case or legal article of interest, click “Save.” Saved cases and articles will appear in your library. Later on, you can create labels to organize it.
Hope this convinced you to try out Google Scholar. It’s simple and it’s free. If you have any questions about using Google Scholar, leave a comment below.
As your solo practice grows, there comes a point when you have too much work to handle, but not enough to hire a full-time paralegal. Instead of rejecting clients for lack of time or hiring a full-time paralegal you can’t afford, contract with a virtual paralegal on an as-needed basis. With the help of a virtual paralegal, your solo practice will grow in 3 different ways.
1. Affordable Legal Services
Legal services are expensive. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t use attorneys because they can’t afford one. According to a recent article from the Wall Street Journal, millions of Americans end up representing themselves in courts because they can’t afford to pay $150 to $300 an hour for an attorney. By delegating some of the work to a virtual paralegal who bills less than an attorney you save your client money. Clients are more likely to use your law firm if they know you provide affordable quality legal services.
2. Extra Time for Clients
You don’t have enough hours in the day to do all your client’s work, plus run your business. Not only are you losing focus on your clients, but you are also missing out on potential client opportunities. Outsourcing legal tasks to a virtual paralegal will free up some of your time. You can use this extra time to gain new clients, perform substantive legal work or finish your work day early.
3. Save Money
Contracting with a virtual paralegal saves you money when you don’t have the workload to hire full-time. You don’t have to pay overhead costs that are up to 30% above the employee salary because a virtual paralegal is an independent contractor. Even better, your virtual paralegal only bills for the hours worked on a project. You don’t pay for down time, lunch break and vacation.
Still not convinced how contracting with a virtual paralegal helps your business grow?
Let’s do the math!
Starting a law firm is not an easy task. Most law schools still don’t teach future lawyers what it takes to start and manage a solo practice or small law firm. Nonetheless, there are a lot of free online resources for attorneys who want to hang a shingle. Below are some of my favorites.
Florida Bar Law Office Management Assistance Service
Even though it is geared towards Florida attorneys, LOMAS provides useful information for anyone looking to open a law firm. It offers free on-demand CLE courses from the ABC’s of starting and managing your law practice to building a small firm marketing program. LOMAS gives access to over 100 administrative forms including a contract for legal services, a general partnership agreement and a new law practice office checklist. It also has a help line and a FAQs section with topics ranging from trust accounts to planning for vacation when you have a solo practice.
ABA Solo & Small Firm Resource Center
Like LOMAS, the ABA Solo & Small Firm Resource Center offers advices, tools and resources to successfully manage a law practice. Their topics include, but are not limited to, marketing, work and life balance and staffing. They also have a form bank and an active listserv, SoloSez, where you learn about events, networking opportunities and ask for advice.
General Practice Solo and Small Firm Sections
As a solo practitioner or small firm owner, there are several benefits of being a member of your state bar section or ABA division. There are numerous networking and referral opportunities, reduced price CLE and monthly publications.
There are several blogs for attorneys looking to build their own law practice. Lawyerist has resources, articles and product reviews. My favorite features are the technology oriented articles and its forum where anyone looking for help can asks questions about the practice of law. My Shingle is another blog inspiring solo and small firm lawyers. I especially like the Start a Law Firm Guide page where blog posts are listed by subject such as setting up and growing your law firm. Finally, Attorneyatwork offers a daily law practice tip that can be delivered straight to your inbox.
As a solo practitioner or small firm owner, what are your favorite online law practice resources?
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Disclaimer: The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Your Paralegal Help Desk's blogger is not an attorney and cannot give legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should immediately seek the advice of a licensed attorney in your state.