Daily Dispatch

The Friday Five

Five Sources for Professional Help in a Pinch

By | Aug.14.15 | Daily Dispatch, Law Practice Management, Productivity, The Friday Five

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When you’re pressed for time, you may feel there aren’t enough people or hours to get everything done. You can’t do it all — but whether it’s administrative, marketing or legal work, professional help is available on surprisingly short notice.

Places to Turn When You Think There’s Nowhere to Turn

Many resources, with a range of time and financial commitment, are available to satisfy almost every need of the harried lawyer.

1. Craigslist. Many lawyers consider Craigslist little more than a place to advertise a garage sale. But you can find information technology and marketing freelancers ready to work at amazingly affordable prices. Look there for help with graphics, such as assisting with a website or designing an advertisement. Craigslist is also a good place to find help with computer needs, including how to use marketing apps like Constant Contact. Some employers like to post lawyer, paralegal, legal secretary or law clerk job openings in the “Legal/Paralegal” section for “jobs” on Craigslist because the cost to post a job is minimal, $25, compared to sites like Lawjobs.com, Monster.com or Indeed.com.

Tip: When looking for IT or graphic design assistance, post a job description in “Gigs” rather than sifting through the postings. Be specific about what you need and when you need it. Offer to pay the minimum fee you think the job is worth. Within an hour your inbox should be filled with responses. Not all will be on point. Once you have a group of likely candidates, delete your post, at least temporarily, to avoid getting hundreds of responses in your inbox, especially overnight.

The good thing about Craigslist is that you are anonymous until you respond with identifying information. Follow up with several responders simultaneously because further communication will eliminate candidates as you go. Communication may also reveal some issues you didn’t address in the original post. For example, do you want the person geographically close enough to meet or will remote access do? If you realize your post was missing important details, delete it and start over. Responses come so fast on Craigslist, you won’t lose much time.

2. Task Rabbit. Task Rabbit taskers can help around the house and run errands, but they can do even more. Taskers are available for writing and editing, computer help and event marketing. You can also post a task under “General,” and Task Rabbit will suggest a tasker for the job.  If you are sponsoring a seminar and need help at the registration desk or refreshment table, Task Rabbit can probably help you. The service excels at assisting with odd jobs. Maybe you got a great online deal on workstations and need someone to put everything together — furniture assembly is right up Task Rabbit’s alley. Need to get original signatures on a document? Task Rabbit workers may do the job less expensively than a lawyer’s delivery service. Taskers are the perfect people to stand in line for you when a new iPhone model comes out. With Task Rabbit you set the date and time for the work and choose from suggested taskers.

3. Project lawyers. Specialized services like National Legal Research Group and Legal Research Center can perform legal research. Some work may be performed offshore. Services like Legal Research Pros and LegalEase Solutions provide both legal research and writing.

Stay-at-home moms and military spouses may represent the top tier of the freelance lawyer industry. Typically, these are high-caliber attorneys, usually with big firm experience. They have a limited number of hours available on a weekly basis, but they are not looking for permanent part-time employment. Montage Legal Group, Inter Alia Lawyers and Intermix Legal are examples of project lawyer placement services. Their typical client is a boutique firm that may have broken off from a BigLaw firm.

Hire An Esquire, a job board that allows employers and project lawyers to match themselves up, will require more of your time than a placement service. An Internet search may discover individual project lawyers, but this is time-consuming and you lose the benefit of someone else checking out their credentials.

Whenever you work with contract or freelance lawyers you are responsible for legal work that goes out with your name. Be prepared to review all work product from an outside service.

4. Temporary agencies. Many lawyers in need of secretarial help turn to temporary agencies. But temporary agencies can fill an order for almost every job you need done, from file clerks to accountants.

Firms often employ contract lawyers for large, limited-duration document review projects through a temporary legal services agency. Staffing is usually arranged well in advance, as these jobs require a full-time commitment and often include long hours to meet deadlines. Still, circumstances may arise where additional hands are needed on a rush basis. Many temporary agencies can fill this need. Examples include DTI (legal process outsourcing), Hire Counsel, Special Counsel and Tower Legal Solutions.

5. School placement offices — at every level. School placement offices offer a low- or no-cost way to hire students, new graduates and alumni. Perhaps you have turned to your alma mater to hire associates and summer interns. But don’t stop there — schools at every level can provide support personnel.

  • College students may be able to manage certain projects in your office. Some lawyers hire students part-time just to handle social media. College students are also well-suited for data input tasks. Students considering a career in law are good candidates, but don’t overlook other business, marketing and liberal arts students. Reach them through their academic department offices.
  • Legal secretarial schools depend on high placement rates to maintain their reputations. For short-term needs, consider employing one of their students part-time. Besides basic skills, look for intelligent, articulate candidates. Your office can provide training for everything else.
  • Similarly, paralegal program placement offices are happy to provide candidates for full-time, part-time and temporary work.
  • Moving your office? High school students may be the perfect workers for packing and other “gopher” jobs. Have someone contact the local high school to see if there is a placement office helping students find part-time work. It may be through the guidance counseling office.

See? There really is a place to turn.

Please note, mentioning these resources is not a recommendation or endorsement. Investigate any entity to your satisfaction before doing business with that entity. Employment and tax laws may apply as well as ethics rules.

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates workers compensation cases throughout California. She is also available for legal freelance writing assignments. An attorney since 1977, she has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She is a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and the author of four books published by the American Bar Association, including "Women Rainmakers' Best Marketing Tips, 3rd Edition." Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at WCMediator.com and on Twitter @WCMediator.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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