If you're a sole practitioner or an attorney at a small law firm, you probably know how hard it can be to attract, retain, and—often most crucially—afford a support staff that can take care of administrative details and let you focus on the law. In today's interconnected, virtual world, though, you don't necessarily have to hire real, live people to work for you full time and occupy cubicles in your office; you can efficiently and economically offload much of the scut work to third parties (or even computer programs).
A Full-Time Employee Is a Major Investment
If your law firm is growing, and you have more clients than you can handle, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring full-time paralegals and administrative assistants (and the U.S. will thank you for lowering the unemployment rate!) But if you're on the bubble—that is, barely making enough money to cover your own expenses and pay your own salary—then a full-time employee can be a risky gamble, because:
- You have to invest a significant amount of time, and resources, into training that individual.
- There is no guarantee that your new employee won't quit after a few weeks or months, thus voiding your investment.
- That person you thought had a “great phone personality” may be severely lacking in other respects (coming in late, misfiling paperwork, etc.).
- You may be so distracted by having to “make payroll” that you lose sight of your paying clients; not everyone is cut out for being a manager!
- It may be possible to offload some of that employee's functions to a third party, for a fraction of that person's salary
There Is No Shame in “Outsourcing” Some of Your Legal Tasks
Today's workforce is more flexible than it's ever been: an increasing number of people work part-time or freelance (because they want to, not because they have to), and an increasing number of companies specialize in providing administrative services to professionals, including lawyers. That allows you to manage your law office time more effectively, increasing your law firm’s productively overall.