In any office setting, efficiency is key. In a law firm setting, it can be the difference between a successful case and a devastating loss. Lawyers in small firms typically spend 40% of their day working on tasks other than law, and anywhere from 8% to 15% of their time on various clerical tasks. For a legal firm to be successful, tasks need to be managed and delegated properly to optimize the office for maximum efficiency.
This is where paralegals come in.
What Is A Paralegal?
The importance of the paralegal cannot be underestimated. A paralegal is an educated and trained professional who handles subsidiary legal matters. Their duties range from performing basic clerical work to corresponding with clients, doing research, and managing cases. They are qualified to speak with clients and interview witnesses, as well as draft, sign, and analyze legal documents. Paralegals can even sit in on trials and assist in litigation duties as needed. They are your lawyers’, right-hand man.
Paralegals also have the opportunity to specialize in different areas of law, ranging from corporate paralegals to real estate paralegal. Depending on what your law firm focuses on, there could be a specialized paralegal who fits your niche. However, most have broad experience and are proficient in every area of law.
Difference Between a Legal Secretary and a Paralegal
Although the term legal secretary and paralegal are used interchangeably, it’s important to note that legal secretaries are limited in what they can do in-office. Apart from administrative duties like managing files, scheduling appointments, making travel arrangements, etc., legal secretaries have a much more narrow scope of job duties.
Paralegals, on the other hand, can do an array of more in-depth legal work that can benefit the bottom line of your law firm. Rather than your lawyers spending a majority of their time summarizing proceedings or doing legal research, they can entrust those tasks to the paralegal and instead focus on ensuring a successful trial for your clients.
Why Your Firm Needs A Paralegal
It’s a given that client demands are of the utmost importance, but according to a survey conducted in the 2017 Legal Trends Report, 30% of lawyers are interrupted between 6 and 10 times a day to answer calls or perform various tasks. This means that your clients are not getting the full attention and focus that they need. Small firms often pride themselves on the in-depth relationships they establish with their clients compared to larger legal firms. It’s often a selling point for clients who want that relationship. Therefore, it’s important to live up to that quality of service.
A paralegal is qualified to speak one-on-one with clients as well as work on court cases. Theis free’s a considerable portion of your lawyers’ time. While concentrating on the clients or cases at hand, your paralegal can handle more administrative tasks. They can handle current and future clients as well as any tasks in-office that need to be handled.
Hiring a paralegal is an investment. The importance of the paralegal is supported by the positive cycle they create: paralegals make firms more efficient, increase the number of cases a law firm can handle, and thus increasing profitability. At Attorney Business Consulting, we specialize in maximizing the efficiency of your firm. For a free consultation, contact us today at (339) 237-3731.