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Top 6 Reasons to Hire a Paralegal Over a Lawyer

By Roy S. Ginsburg

Your solo or small law firm is busier than ever and you desperately need another warm body to complete the work. Resist the knee-jerk reaction to hire another lawyer. Instead, assess whether hiring a paralegal can fill the need. You’ll find that in most practice areas it can.

Reasons Why It’s Better to Hire Paralegals Than Lawyers

1. Less Money

Paralegals cost less than lawyers. Why increase your overhead more than you have to?

2. Increased Billable Hours

Many firm owners seem to forget that paralegals can be as much of a profit center as the best grinder lawyer. Good paralegals can do research, communicate with clients, and draft letters, emails and memos. Some can even do these tasks better than lawyers. And the time it takes to do these things can be billed just like a lawyer.

3. Increased Profits

Don’t assume that leveraging an associate always brings more to the bottom line than leveraging a paralegal. Let’s do the math:

  • Assume you hire a paralegal for $50,000 and an associate for $100,000.
  • Assume each bills 1,000 hours annually.
  • You bill out your associate at $200 per hour and the paralegal at $150.
  • The profit for the associate is $100,000 ($200K in revenue minus the $100K salary).
  • The profit for the paralegal is, lo and behold, the same ($150K in revenue minus the $50K salary).

Further, you can play with these numbers and create situations where paralegals can be even more profitable than an associate.

4. Improved Client Benefits

Using the same numbers above, clients get lower bills. Yes, I realize the firm’s overall revenue will decrease. But the focus should be on profits, not revenue. Profits don’t have to suffer when substituting paralegals for lawyers.

5. Easier to Manage

Let’s face it, many lawyers think they know everything and don’t take orders all that well. They can be quite difficult to manage.

Anecdotally, I can tell you from my coaching and consulting experience that it’s the rare owner who complains to me about an underperforming paralegal. Likewise, it’s the rare owner who doesn’t complain to me about an underperforming lawyer.

6. Less Competition

Last, but certainly not least, paralegals don’t quit and compete against you as lawyers can.

Your Default Consideration Should Be Hiring a Paralegal

My message here is that when help is needed, the first thing to consider is hiring a paralegal. Of course, there are some practice areas where a paralegal is not suitable. For instance, if you need someone to make a lot of court appearances, you must hire a lawyer. Whenever possible, however, default to a paralegal instead of a lawyer.

Really good paralegals are worth their weight in gold.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

You Might Also Like:

“Expanding Your Solo Practice Without Hiring an Associate” by Russell Knight

“To Hire or Not to Hire: The Solo-Solo Dilemma” by Dustin Cole

Effective Delegation for Lawyers,” Part 1 and Part 2 by Yuliya Roe

Outsourcing: When You Can’t Clone Yourself” by Kristin Tyler

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Roy S. Ginsburg

Roy S. Ginsburg is an attorney coach and law firm consultant who has practiced law for more than 30 years. He works with individual lawyers and law firms nationwide in the areas of business development, practice management, career development, and strategic and succession planning. Learn more at www.royginsburg.com and www.sellyourlawpractice.com.

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