Georgia Virtual Paralegal
Your law firm needs help with legal research, drafting legal documents, tracking down and interviewing witnesses, and dozens of other tasks the firm’s lawyers don’t have time to do themselves. At the same time, you may not need full-time assistance and cannot justify the expense of a regular employee. The cost of paying a paralegal’s salary plus benefits is even more of a concern if you operate as a single lawyer or with only a few partners. Whatever your situation, working with a Georgia virtual paralegal offers the flexibility and cost savings your law office needs.
What is a Virtual Paralegal?
The International Virtual Assistant Association describes a Georgia virtual paralegal as an independent contractor with legal training and experience who works from home or their own office providing legal support services to law firms in the state. Most paralegals have at least a two-year associate degree with some holding a bachelor or master’s degree in paralegal studies. Some colleges offer paralegal certificate programs for students who have already earned an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Benefits of a Virtual Paralegal vs. Hiring a Full-Time Employee
When you hire a full-time paralegal, you must pay for 40 hours of services whether the employee provides that much work or not. You must also pay the employer’s contribution to social security, unemployment, and workers’ compensation. Hiring an employee obligates you to withhold federal, state, and Medicare taxes and submit reports on them to the appropriate taxing authority.
Your only legal tax obligation with an independent contractor is that you must provide a Miscellaneous Income 1099 form by January 31 for any paralegal who earned more than $600 the previous calendar year. You also do not need to pay employee benefits such as health and dental insurance and paid vacation. Here are some other perks of contracting with a Georgia virtual paralegal:
- You can bill any legal work the paralegal performs on behalf of a client such as drafting legal correspondence and pleadings directly to the client as you do for your own services.
- You can write a contract with a virtual paralegal Georgia to tie results and performance into compensation. Self-employed paralegals often provide a higher quality of work because they want to earn the maximum pay and complete the contract to the client’s satisfaction.
- Some paralegals have additional training in a specific practice area such as personal injury, family law, business law, or criminal defense. This gives you added assurance of working with a highly qualified paralegal if your law office specializes in one or more practice areas.
- You only pay for the paralegal’s billable hours, which may come at any time of the day or night or even on weekends or holidays. Some paralegals are willing to offer a completely flexible schedule. This is something you could not get with a regular employee working traditional office hours.
- Independent contractors provide their own equipment such as a laptop computer, smartphone, and recording device to use on assignments. This further reduces your overhead costs.
- Small and rural law firms can compete with large and metropolitans practices when they have the same level of administrative support available to them.
Factors to Consider Before Contracting with a Georgia Virtual Paralegal
Because virtual paralegals in Georgia are independent contractors, they may work with more than one law firm at a time. The paralegal you choose to work with should sign a confidentiality statement and a non-compete agreement before starting any work with your law firm.
The first document prevents the paralegal from discussing any legal information he or she is privy to while completing administrative tasks for you and other lawyers. By signing the non-compete independent contractor agreement, the paralegal agrees not to provide similar legal service to a competitor while contracting with your firm and for a set period of time after the work arrangement ends.
Working with a virtual paralegal Georgia means frequently sharing highly confidential data through electronic means. Before you begin assigning tasks to a paralegal remotely, be sure to have an information technology (IT) specialist check for security vulnerabilities that could leave client data exposed to hackers. You should have strong encryption in place and a secure method of transmitting files to your virtual assistant.
Tips for Hiring the Best Virtual Paralegal in Georgia to Meet Your Law Firm’s Needs
We recommend following these steps before choosing a paralegal to work with on a remote basis:
- Check all credentials to ensure the paralegal can perform to your expectations. A paralegal background check should include confirming a degree or certificate, level of experience, criminal history, and whether the paralegal belongs to any relevant professional organizations. Obtaining references from past remote clients is also helpful. Keep in mind that newer paralegals typically do not have enough experience to work remotely.
- Discuss the virtual paralegal’s compensation and request a written fee agreement or contract that outlines all terms of your working relationship. Paralegals experienced with virtual work should already have their own documents prepared. Be sure to negotiate your own expectations into the contract, including the consequences of providing sub-par work or breaking confidentiality.
- Make sure you understand the virtual paralegal’s availability and that it fits in with your current needs. If you think you will need greater flexibility in the future, do not hesitate to ask about that before starting your working relationship.
- Outline how and when you will communicate with the virtual paralegal. For example, do you want a brief Zoom session each morning or is a weekly check-in adequate for your needs? You should also let your new remote worker know who to contact when you are not available.
- Ensure that the virtual paralegal has the necessary equipment and that it is compatible with equipment used in your law office.
Our company is here to assist you with locating the best Georgia virtual paralegal for your law firm’s needs. Please contact us today at 770-373-5583 to learn more about our Georgia virtual paralegal services for your law firm.
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