As I’ve been speaking to groups of paralegals and attorneys about the implementation of virtual paralegals in the legal field, I am often asked, “How do you find a qualified virtual paralegal?” I’m glad you asked!
Finding a virtual paralegal is similar to the methods of finding an employee for your law firm. There are methods that work and methods that fail. Let’s first talk about a few methods that are commonly used, but generally fail.
1. Craigslist: This one makes me chuckle. Generally the employers and the “recruiters” that use Craigslist are desperately looking for a cheap way to staff a law office. Newsflash: highly qualified individuals are not scouring Craigslist for their next career move. The same goes for a virtual paralegal. If the virtual paralegal is good, they already have a book of business and are not skimming the low lying fruit of desperate firms looking for a cheap, quick fix to their ongoing staffing issues.
2. Newspapers: While I read the newspaper everyday, I realize that I am a dying breed. Most folks my age and younger obtain their news through sources on the internet, television, and yes, through their friend’s postings on Facebook! Some old school firms still post their employment opportunities in the local “fish wrap”, but for the reasons noted above, they do not reach a qualified pool of talent. This is simply a waste of time and money for the firm.
3. Placement agencies: I’ll admit, I’ve used placement agencies during the early years of my career. They provide a wonderful service by gathering the resumes of several potential candidates, then letting the law firm decide who to interview and, eventually hire. Most of these companies charge a percentage or flat rate fee. Unfortunately, their profit objectives generally do not align with the cost-benefit of using contract or virtual paralegals. Because of this, most headhunters will not be able (or willing) to help you find a virtual paralegal.
What really works?
1. Word of Mouth: Yes, that old-school concept is still true in practice today. In fact, many of our company’s current clients were obtained not through advertising or marketing, but by word of mouth referrals. Providing efficient support is a great value to any law firm and attorneys WILL sing your praises. The only problem is that they might not want to speak too loud for fear that you’ll get so busy with other clients, you won’t have time for their work!
2. Local paralegal associations: Most paralegal associations are generally comprised of the “cream of the crop” in terms of qualified individuals. They are the folks that take their position in the field seriously. It is a career for them, not a “job.” Most members are full-time employees of a local law firm, but many will know of a highly qualified contract/freelance paralegal and perhaps one that is experienced in providing virtual paralegal support services.
3. Search Engines/Social Media: These methods of locating a qualified virtual paralegal cannot be underestimated. Since virtual paralegals are usually very technically savvy, their marketing efforts are done through technical means: websites, Facebook groups, online forums, etc. If a virtual paralegal’s website is plagued with grammatical errors or looks like it was done by an 8 year-old kid using WordPress, move on to the next search result!
In our next post, we will discuss the qualifications and traits that you should look for when evaluating a virtual paralegal for your firm.
Jay Quigley, RP, CP, FRP is the founder of Parasimple, a copy that provides virtual paralegal support services to attorneys and law firms of all sizes throughout the state of Florida.