As we pointed out in an earlier article, law firms need to move to the Cloud. AI technology and practice management software is automating many jobs done by humans. It is tempting to take the red pill. The urge to fight our machine overlords is great. However, the machines have already won the war. So, why should paralegals choose the blue pill and enter the matrix? To be competitive in the new job market paralegals will have to take their services to the virtual world. You will find that there are many advantages to becoming a virtual paralegal.
Demand is Growing
This is the time to become a virtual paralegal. Demand for the legal services paralegals provide has never been greater. Even in this tough job market, paralegals can expect fast growth in their field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an 8 percent growth through 2024.
The main goal of every solo or small firm is to be competitive with larger firms. This can only be done by keeping fees low and getting back to actually practicing the law. Virtual paralegals will be invaluable to meeting this goal. Firms that embrace working from the cloud realize that they do not face the same physical restrictions and costs of traditional firms. Thus, virtual work will be too attractive for firms to resist.
Paralegals will remain invaluable to a legal team, but virtual paralegals are simply a more cost-effective option. Attorneys can pay virtual paralegals for only the services they need. As a result, the à la carte system will cut overhead costs and the overall price tag for a salaried employee. Moreover, paralegals can perform many of the routine services that take up a lot of an attorney’s time. They also charge for these services at a lower rate than an attorney. Therefore, virtual paralegals allow attorneys to save time and clients appreciate the lower fees.
So, virtual paralegals will be in high demand going forward. Firms recognize this fact. New paralegals entering the job market should be aware of how firms want to use their services.
Better Hours & Less Stress
Paralegals have some of the most important and demanding jobs in a firm. Most legal work could not get done if a paralegal did not act as a go-between for the attorney. Unfortunately, traditional in-house paralegals tend to be overworked and keep long hours. There is a lot of pressure to keep up with various tasks and client matters. Attorneys and clients expect you to be in many places at once. Luckily, you don’t need to invest in a teleporter.
Virtual paralegals can set their own hours and do not need to be micro-managed. Want to work in your pajamas? Or fashionable black leather gear? Virtual paralegals have the freedom to work from anywhere. Wherever you choose to work, you will be away from office dress codes, the daily commute, and strict work hours. No longer will you have to deal with water cooler talk about whether the spoon exists or not.
Spoons aside, virtual paralegals do not need to sacrifice their personal lives for a firm. You set your own hours and work when you feel most productive. Virtual paralegals do not need to worry about being morning people. Good virtual paralegals will use practice management software to easily keep track of their tasks from home or by the pool. Using this software will help you stay connected with your clients and automate many of your daily tasks.
The point is to reclaim more time for what really matters. Never send a human to do a machine’s job. Virtual paralegals will use the software to automate those tedious tasks that drain your valuable (and billable) hours so you spend more time serving clients. There will also be more time to relax or spend with a partner, family, and/or children. You are not going to be effective to a firm or clients if you are stressed. Long work hours may eventually take their toll on your personal relationships. Virtual paralegals, more so than in-house paralegals, have the tools to break this cycle.
Virtual paralegals have the freedom to work with as many attorneys as they want. Workaholics rejoice! More importantly, if you are paying back student loans the extra cash can be a great help. We live in the era of the side hustle. Millennials, especially, are no strangers to taking extra work on the side.
Virtual paralegals have the freedom to sell their services to multiple attorneys and firms. As long as you have good time management skills the paychecks are there for the taking. You already have the software so keeping up with each case will be easy. Most virtual paralegals earn as much as in-house paralegals. However, a virtual paralegal can increase his/her workload when extra work is available, thereby increasing his/her salary.
Virtual paralegals can work in multiple legal fields at once. In-house paralegals are bound to one or two legal fields. Paralegals in the matrix will never be bored and will build experience through variety. As name recognition grows so will your business.
The Matrix is Everywhere
It’s all around us. Even in the very room you are in. We cannot roll back the technology and devices that are now a constant in our lives. Nor would we want to. The aim should be to recognize how technology is shaping the job market. Paralegals stand to benefit professionally and personally by shifting their work to the matrix. Simply put, paralegals need to accept the blue pill. Use this information to make yourself attractive to future employers. Use the machines to make you money and reclaim your personal life. I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.