Dorothy Secol, CLA
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Independent Paralegal Services for Attorneys



As law firms grow, the available time of the attorneys becomes limited. Making a commitment to delegate certain tasks to free up time becomes essential. When everything must go through the attorney, the attorney eventually becomes a bottleneck that chokes growth of the firm. When the attorney thinks he or she is the only one who can do certain tasks, the result is a demoralized, underutilized staff, and a firm that cannot grow.

It is easy to learn what jobs to delegate. Just for a week, keep 2 separate time logs - one showing what you intended to do each day, and the other showing what you actually did each day. No surprises here! There will be a big deficit. Look at the things you planned to do and at what activities displaced them. Are those the things you really need to be doing? Are they things that make the best use of your particular expertise? Are they things a paralegal can do?

Know what your time is worth. It doesn't make sense for an attorney whose time is worth $200 - $300 an hour to draft a pleading or write a brief that could be done by a competent paralegal. Once all of this makes sense to you, decide whether others within the firm should do these jobs or whether they should be outsourced.

Delegating to an outside paralegal works best for very skill-specific tasks or projects that are needed on a periodic basis. The goal is to gain time and profit. Delegating internally works best for functions that call for flexibility and quick responses on a daily basis. When internal delegation fails, it is often the attorney who cannot believe that anyone else can do something as competently as they can. Some attorneys are unwilling to invest the necessary time to delegate the job properly the first time. They think that in the time it would take to tell someone how to do the job, they could do it themselves. They don't realize that their initial time investment will save them hours on a regular basis once they delegate the job.

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