A paralegal is a legal professional appointed to support attorneys with daily back-office chores in a law office setting. While a paralegal has a set of limitations in terms of legal advice and client representation in courts, they can do as much as a lawyer does during their busy schedule. Moreover, with the growing need for cost-effective legal services, attorneys and law firms are likely to hire more paralegals across specialties to meet customer demand and catch up with the increasing competition in the legal sector.
Along with that, considering the continuously popularizing virtual paralegals, there are several opportunities for law firms to obtain paralegal services affordably. Let’s further discuss virtual paralegal associates (VPAs) in brief below.
Who Is A Virtual Paralegal Associate?
A VPA is a legal professional who takes care of administrative and legal services of a law office, law firm, or corporate legal department remotely from home or anywhere else. They do everything any average paralegal does while working from the office; the only difference is that VPAs work remotely.
Key Differences Between A VPA And An In-House Paralegal
- VPAs are generally paid on a per-hour or per-project basis – can be utilized in times of heavy caseloads
- Hiring VPAs can help reduce hiring and employee retention costs (payroll taxes, insurance, and other benefits are eliminated)
- VPAs can be the best fit for small- and medium-sized law firms that have budget constraints to hire an in-house paralegal.
- As there’s no need for a firm to invest in an extended space and additional computer systems, they can considerably save overhead costs too.
How Does A VPA Work?
The main job of a VPA is to help a law firm manage its administrative functions and operate smoothly. A typical virtual paralegal can be appointed to handle various legal tasks, including but not limited to the following.
- Client interviews (briefing them about services)
- Legal research
- Case file organization
- Counsel and witness correspondence
- Legal brief writing & document preparation
- Legal citation verification
- Legal problem assessment
- Scan and organize case-related documents
- Maintenance of active legal cases’ database
- Follow up with clients
How Can Virtual Paralegals Help Your Law Firm?
With the gig economy rapidly growing across the US, law firms are in sheer need to look for innovative solutions to multiple challenges they face. Apart from that, the legal sector is becoming more competitive with new entrants coming into the market and disrupting the traditional ways of providing legal support services. Virtual paralegals can be excellent resources that would bring new perceptions and ideas and help save capital that can be utilized in other value-adding business areas.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, paralegals’ and legal assistants‘ employment is anticipated to grow by 12% between 2020 and 2030. Law firms have recognized this and are leveraging VPAs as per their requirements. Here’re a few points that describe how a VPA can be helpful for your law firm.
Away From Unnecessary Attractions
Virtual paralegals are more efficient at work while working remotely or from home as they are away from most distractions. They won’t be spending time having random communications with team members, gossiping about the work culture, and not being involved in office politics. As a result, you can expect higher productivity. Apart from that, you are quite wrong if you think you may face a lack of proper communication while your paralegals work remotely. With effective communication platforms and tools, you can establish excellent collaboration. Then, when in need to contact, your paralegals will be just a text away.
Leaves are one of the most common concerns law firms usually have, as their business is highly time-sensitive. As a law firm owner, you might have also faced such issues in the past. However, it can be eliminated with paralegal outsourcing services. Having a team of virtual paralegals working remotely can reduce absenteeism as in case of minor health issues like cold and cough, they can continue work from home, reducing the need for leave.
Most employees are happy and more productive while working remotely due to a flexible schedule and working without micromanaging. Also, according to one survey, 99% of employee respondents revealed they would like to work remotely. So let’s take a quick look at the figure below.
Opportunities To Reduce Overhead
By hiring a virtual paralegal, you can get multiple opportunities to save overhead costs. First, VPAs charge you hourly, saving you enough money that you would otherwise spend on paying monthly fixed salaries to on-site paralegals. The associated expenses are not limited to that; you would also need to pay for insurance, additional perks, paid leaves, and pension plans (if applicable). On the other hand, with a VPA, you only need to pay for their work, resulting in significant savings in terms of overhead costs.
Higher Scaling Possibilities
You might have come across a client in the past who was impressed with your service delivery positives and competitive pricing model but was looking for some services out of your law firm’s scope. If so, it is time to get over such problems as you can serve your clients across legal verticals with the help of specialized VPAs. That way, you need not ‘say no’ to any prospect and fulfill their requirements and demands in the best possible manner.
Operational Flexibility At Its Best
One of the biggest reasons law firms utilizes paralegal services is to leverage operational flexibility, which can add value to their law firm. You may also do the same with VPAs. For instance, if you hire a couple of paralegals for multiple shifts, your firm will complete two days of legal admin work within one day, one from 9 to 5 and another from 6 to 3. In addition, virtual paralegals usually offer flexible scheduling and adhere to timelines, helping you reduce TATs too.
How Can You Find A Virtual Paralegal In The US?
You may talk to your industry peers or contact American Bar Association requesting a list of certified paralegals. You may also speak to your staff if they have any references as their network can also be helpful, or use the internet to search for experienced and skilled virtual paralegals for hire.
Consider these factors while looking for virtual paralegals;
Like most law firms, you might not be looking for a fresher or entry-level candidate. Therefore, it is essential to hire an experienced VPA because that’s what counts when it comes to working for multiple clients on a variety of cases.
Only consider hiring a VPA if they agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Since they receive and deal with a considerable number of documents and sizable sensitive information of your clients, they must meet this requirement to ensure data security. They must also have a secure network connection that can fight against cyber threats.
Adherence To Your Guidelines
There will be some set of standards your employees need to strictly adhere to in terms of work, roles, and responsibilities. You need to communicate these guidelines to the paralegals you want to hire so that they will be working as an extension of your in-house team without physically sitting on-site.
In the years to come, VPAs are likely to become the center of the legal services system, and law firms are likely to depend upon them for legal back-office operations increasingly. Also, as you can access specialized talent at affordable costs, outsourcing virtual paralegal services can be one of your best business decisions.
Not only in terms of higher productivity, scaling, and flexible operations but also in terms of capital savings. Hence, it is recommended to look for a competitive paralegal who can help you expand, manage workloads, and handle clients with special needs and demands.
A business content writer Cathrine Troyer believes in writing pieces for avid readers looking to get industry insights and trends. She writes blog posts, press releases, and social media content that share key insights. She has been writing for over seven years and loves being able to share her knowledge with others.
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