Your Paralegal Help Desk is one year old this month! After working from home on an as-needed basis for my employer for the last two years, I thought it would be a good idea to offer virtual paralegal services to other Florida law firms. My employer can’t be the only law firm that doesn’t need a full-time paralegal working in office, I thought.
I was right, but finding law firm clients hasn’t been easy. My professional network was basically non-existent. I had worked for the same law firm for over 7 years. I didn’t make an effort to get out there and meet legal professionals. I had other priorities like starting a family. I also enjoyed my work and the office environment was for the most part stress-free. As a result, it took several months to get my first client.
Now that I am at the one year mark, business is picking up, but not enough to leave my part-time job with a local law firm. I have to constantly market my services in addition to doing legal work. I have tried different marketing channels and I can’t say one was more successful than the others. I have come to the conclusion that passage of time and combined marketing approaches will bring in more clients. Persistence is key.
If you have been in the legal field for a while, you probably know by now that attorneys are reluctant to changes, which can be a good or bad thing. With the advance of technology, it makes sense for solo practitioners and small law firms to delegate work to a virtual paralegal. They save overhead costs and only pay for the hours worked. However, I have found that attorneys prefer to have someone work in their office as opposed to working remotely. And if they’re okay with remote work, they often want someone local just in case something comes up and they “need” to see you in person. I have a feeling it will take some time before attorneys get used to the idea of delegating work to someone outside their office. However, I am counting on the new generation of lawyers to be more open to the idea of using virtual paralegals.
Paralegals, on the other hand, wish they worked remotely. There’s a lot of interest on social media concerning virtual and freelance paralegal work. Paralegals often ask me if I am hiring because they like the flexibility of doing virtual paralegal contract work. One thing they may not realize is that contract work is very unpredictable, especially when you start. You can be overwhelmed with work for a few days and have nothing to do the next week. And sometimes you have to work nights and weekends to meet deadlines or manage your company. It’s hard to have this kind of professional lifestyle when you have to pay the bills, unless you can make ends meet on your spouse’s salary.
I’ll be honest with you. I have had thoughts about finding a full-time in office paralegal job because starting a business is not easy. However, I love the flexibility I get as a virtual paralegal. I can pick who I work for. I can stop work to pick up my daughter at school and start again at night when she’s in bed. I can even work when I am traveling out-of-state.
I also feel more productive and creative when I work from home. There are less interruptions. I rarely have computer issues. It’s quiet! Having a business makes you think outside the box. When you have a problem and you don’t get the result you want, you have to think about solutions. I am constantly thinking about what I should do to improve my services and get more clients. I try something and learn from my successes and failures.
What I like about having a business is that it has pushed me to do things I would not have done one year ago. It forced me to get out of my comfort zone and meet people by networking, volunteering and getting involved in my community.
Cheers to another great year to come!
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.