Best Practices for Starting Your Own Paralegal ServicesThe Paralegal Resource
April 3, 2014 — 4,870 views
While the law firms and legal departments across the nation adopt measures to counter recession by cutting overhead costs and delegating their work to freelancing paralegals, it’s time for the paralegal force to make hay while the sun shines. A sudden spurt in the demand for paralegal services will eventually lead to a rise in the number of paralegal businesses. The growing demand for paralegal services has also resulted in the mushrooming of schools and colleges affiliated to the American Association for Paralegal Education (AAPE).
Even during the phase of an economic downturn the paralegal profession continues to grow by leaps and bounds. So if you are paralegal with a long cherished dream of starting your own company, now is the time! Although there are some points you would like to consider before you started your own paralegal services
Get a business plan
Formulating a business plan provides you with a vision for the initiation and growth of your paralegal business. It should ideally include a company description that provides an insight into the type of services on offer including the target market and the USP of your firm. It should also include an organizational structure and a marketing plan that will help you reach the target market, that is the attorneys in your district. Funding and financial projections should be next on the checklist which should clearly state your funding requirements and the intended use of funds. Clearly drawn financial projections based on the time you would invest and the expected rate of payments that you intend to charge for your paralegal services would impress your creditors.
Next on the itinerary should be locating an ideal business location. You could work out of your home during the initial phase of setting the business which will help save money on rentals, office equipment, furnishings, taxes and renovation. Working out of home will require a disciplined approach and better organization. If you choose to establish an office in a particular area, try to visualize the future growth opportunities based on the demographics and population there, before you zero in on the spot.
Seek legal counsel
It would be wise to get an appointment with an experienced attorney to discuss the type of legal structure you intend to have for your paralegal business. The ownership structure could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company or even a
corporate firm. In addition to the legal counsel, an attorney will help you through the process of getting your business registered and the obtaining of state license and permits as required by the business.
Get an accountant’s perspective
Consulting an accountant before finalizing the legal structure will help you assess your tax advantages and disadvantages. A clear insight into the type of self-employment taxes that you may end up paying for owning your own business will help you choose the best structure suited to your short term goals.
Make a list of what’s on the menu
Getting ready with a detailed list of paralegal services you have to offer, highlighting any particular services you specialize in will attract a specific and targeted clientele. The fee structure should be decided upon beforehand and should be communicated to the clients. It can be a flat rate for particular services or an hourly rate for research based projects that require time and effort.
Get tech savvy
A website is the best way to reach across your target audience - the attorneys. A constantly updated website is a powerful marketing tool and a window into the kind of business you are offering. Your clients can request service as and when required and can make online payments for the paralegal services offered.
Paralegal services have managed to fill the gap left by the pricey lawyers and the under-trained legal secretaries, with a level of expertise that has deservedly earned the paralegals a financially rewarding practice. A lot of groundwork and persistence can make an independent paralegal practice a profession to reckon with.