Given today’s technology, it may not surprise that paralegals are no longer tied to law firms and corporate legal departments. Virtual paralegals (sometimes referred to as digital paralegals) do exist. These legal professionals perform the same duties as traditional paralegals, but accomplish them remotely – typically from a home office.
Granted, a virtual position is not right for everyone. But, sometimes a little creativity is necessary when securing a job that’s right for you. Let’s explore the digital concept a bit further to see if your next paralegal opportunity is a virtual one.
The Business Model
Digital paralegals are basically freelancers. They’re self-employed and often create their own business prior to accepting work. The specific type of business that’s eventually created is entirely up to the paralegal. Virtual workers can choose to work as sole proprietors or formally establish a business entity (e.g., limited liability company, corporation, etc.).
There IS a Need
You must know up front that many attorneys will not even consider hiring a paralegal that conducts his business remotely. Many attorneys or firms expect their employees to work onsite. However, some attorneys will consider a virtual paralegal and a market for these professionals does exist.
The main reason for this is that virtual assistants save lawyers and firms money. Remember that digital paralegals are freelancers. This means that an attorney or firm does not have to provide such things as an office space, insurance, or benefits. With cuts in operating costs, outsourcing can serve as an attractive option for some lawyers.
Marketing is Key
Virtual paralegals are like solo practitioners in so far as they must actively seek out work. This is accomplished via marketing campaigns that get incorporated into a digital paralegal’s daily tasks. At the very least, proper marketing will include the creation (and maintenance) of a company website and a social media presence.
Remote paralegals typically work for attorneys on a contract basis; and, the contract will set forth all the details regarding compensation. Please know, however, that payment is most often made on an hourly basis and it’s often provided either once a month or once every two weeks. The specific hourly rate simply depends on the paralegal’s experience and degree of specialization.
Pros and Cons
Virtual workers are usually ideal for those looking to maximize their work-life balance. Hours are flexible. Proper organization and communication can also easily free up time for raising children or traveling.
The largest downside to working remotely boils down to pay. Work may come in spurts meaning slow times generate few paychecks. Further, virtual paralegals do not enjoy vacation pay, sick leave, or overtime. They also must bear the expense of purchasing and maintaining office tools and equipment.
Your specific situation will dictate whether you’ll want to perform your paralegal duties onsite or at home. Know that today’s technical world has made a virtual role a reality and that the digital option is there. If you’re a paralegal, or any type of legal support personnel, and you’re looking for employment opportunities, contact us now! We’re always here to help make your professional lives more robust and rewarding.