Information for Lawyers: How Paralegals Can Improve Your Practice
From the ABA Website:
What can paralegals do?
Paralegals can be delegated any task normally performed by a lawyer, as long as the lawyer supervises the work, except those proscribed by law. See the ABA Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services (PDF).
For example, paralegals can review and organize client files, conduct factual and legal research, prepare documents for legal transactions, draft pleadings and discovery notices, interview clients and witnesses, and assist at closings and trials.
Paralegals must avoid the unauthorized practice of law. Generally, paralegals may not represent clients in court, take depositions, or sign pleadings.
Paralegals may not establish the attorney’s relationship with the client or set fees to be charged, and may not give legal advice to a client.
How would a paralegal improve my practice?
-Your costs would be reduced.
-You would be able to lower your legal fees.
-Your clients would also appreciate increased contact with your practice through your paralegal.
How would a paralegal improve my practice’s bottom line?
Paralegal time can be billed out separately to your clients, and at lower rates.
Paralegals can be paid less than an attorney, yet handle many tasks (under an attorney’s supervision) that would otherwise be performed by an attorney.
The paralegal staff can be a profit center for your practice.
What fee should I charge for my paralegal’s work?
Your paralegal’s substantive legal work (i.e., not clerical work) may be billed directly to the client just as an attorney’s work is billed, or considered in setting a flat fee just as an attorney’s work would be.
A profitable paralegal generates more revenue than it costs to maintain the paralegal.
A financial analysis should take into account the paralegal’s direct and indirect contributions (both revenues from paralegal hours and the benefits from shifting routine work to a paralegal and leaving more complex work to an attorney).