I am pleased to welcome Millie Tiffany, Litigation Paralegal & Legal Analyst, as she writes this guest blog post, discussing the use of freelance paralegals from a US perspective. This subject will, however, also be of particular interest to those getting a paralegal degree and the legal profession in Scotland and elsewhere, given that the Registered Paralegal Scheme “Full Route” goes live on 15 August 2011. Millie can be followed on Twitter via @MillieTiffany and you can also connect with Millie on Linkedin.
Use of freelance paralegals is an emerging trend that is catching on fire
Here are some reasons why:-
Economic reasons: The economic reality of our times is causing more and more attorneys to rethink their expenses and restructure their practices accordingly, with one of the major changes being the use of a freelance, or contract paralegal, rather than a full-time employee. Many firms have ebb and flow business. Obviously, it is more cost-effective to pay for a paralegal’s services only when the work flow is too heavy for the attorney to handle on his/her own.
Quality: Most freelance paralegals are educated, knowledgeable, highly-experienced, specialized, and extremely competent. They have to be. Their business depends upon it.
Technology: Today’s technology allows freelance paralegals to work virtually from their home offices for attorneys all over the USA. Files and documents can be exchanged in many different ways ranging from cloud sharing through overnight mail, depending upon the style of the attorney and his/her comfort level.
Less complicated: With a freelance paralegal, the only expense is her fee. The attorney pays no taxes such as federal income, social security, unemployment or workers compensation. There is no need to generate a W-2 form, pay ever-rising premiums for health insurance, make retirement contributions or provide other benefits. The freelancer provides her own computer, workspace and supplies. There are no personality issues to deal with that sometimes arise with day-to-day contact. Valuable time is not lost on advertising, interviewing, hiring and training, only to have the paralegal quit just when the attorney starts to rely on her, resulting in the process starting all over again! On the other hand, establishing an ongoing relationship with a freelance paralegal assures the attorney of reliable, quality support when necessary, and only when necessary.
Increased quality of life: The utilization of a freelance paralegal’s services is most often sought by sole practitioners who are so crazy-busy that they don’t know which end is up, or perhaps when they are away from the office because of a family emergency, conflict, vacation, or sickness, and need some back-up, or when the attorney would simply like another perspective. There are times when practicing alone is not easy. It is difficult for the solo to handle complicated situations/cases all alone, with no one to bounce ideas off or with whom to engage in brainstorming sessions. A trusted freelancer can provide a fresh perspective. Calling upon a freelancer also allows the attorney some down time to spend doing the things he/she enjoys. Rather than being holed up in the office at 7 P.M. answering interrogatories subject to a complusion order or drafting an Emergency Petition for Special Relief, he can be cheering for his son at a mini football game, watching his daughter’s dance recital, or checking out that new restaurant. A freelancer can help the attorney to restore balance to his life, something that more and more people are seeking.
Millie is the owner of Paralegal Specialists, LLC, which company offers freelance/contract paralegal services and legal copywriting on-site to Northeastern Pennsylvania attorneys and virtually to attorneys throughout the rest of the USA. Millie has 20+ years experience specializing in Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death litigation and PA Family Law. Millie can be followed on Twitter via @MillieTiffany and you can also connect with Millie on Linkedin.