BOTTOM LINE - PROPER UTILIZATION OF LEGAL
How many times have you wondered how you
can augment your profits; increase your billing. How would like to
increase your firmís billable hours by fifteen to twenty-five
percent per year? Properly utilize your paralegal staff.
By properly using legal assistants, attorneys will have more time
to accomplish work that only they can perform. Value is added to your
firm and clients when legal assistants are part of the team.
Perhaps you should start by asking yourselves the following
1. Do you use paralegals on a regular basis? If not, why? If you
do, what do you see as their primary function?
2. How do you differentiate between paralegal work and secretarial
3. Do you presently use paralegals to reduce costs to your clients?
4. What kind of training will make your paralegal more valuable to
You can start the process by identifying each
paralegalís level of experience, academic credentials, and specialty
skills. Next you would include this information in the permanent
records so that the information is made accessible to attorneys and
other decision makers in your office as to the best use of each
paralegal for appropriate projects. Create a listing of the types of
tasks that could be delegated to paralegals generally, and to those in
specialty areas. The types of tasks will vary, of course, depending on
your practice, purpose, etc. but some examples are: drafting motions
and briefs, legal research, preparing exhibits, computerized document
preparation as well as drafting wills, preparation of tax returns, and
much, much more.
To further ensure success, you must
encourage the attorneys in your office to let clients know that they
are saving money with the use of legal assistants by billing the
paralegal rates. Experienced legal assistants should be urged to make
presentations to the attorneys in the office of their expertise in
specialty areas. In smaller firms, you might consider inviting an
experienced paralegal from a non-adversarial firm to make a
presentation to your office, or ask one of your attorneys who
appropriately uses paralegals to help make the same type of
An important part of the training plan
includes informing the paralegals that a major responsibility in this
process is transferred to them. If there is some task they would like
to learn, they should be encouraged to do so and earn the privilege.
Paralegals should be taught more complex tasks by asking the attorneys
for the opportunity.
Accomplishment always offers great potential to enhance the
effectiveness and morale of your paralegal staff. By instituting
better use of their skills, they will feel more appreciated and in
turn the attorneys will delegate more complex, substantive legal
tasks. In addition your turnover percentage will decrease thereby
saving additional costs and expenses. The proper utilization of legal
assistants will increase your bottom line in every aspect; higher
billable hours, less turnover, more time for you to attend to the
complex tasks at hand and last but by no means the least, a more
content and focused staff.