One thing most partners find out when they jump start their first law practice is usually unexpected: It starts off slow, but then suddenly business explodes. There’s a long period of chaos before you reorganize your affairs to benefit the greatest number of clients. There might be some fallout along the way. When should you hire your first paralegal? This is when you’ll know.
When time becomes too difficult to manage for the lawyers already employed by your firm. When your “firm” is just you in the beginning, you might go either way depending on the area of law you practice and how much paperwork you have.
Remember: As a name partner, your goal is to grow the firm’s business. That means finding new clients with bigger pocket books who need more of your time — which you can then bill for. When just that can fill your entire day, it might be time to find a paralegal to perform some case legwork, help prepare for trials, or do some paperwork.
It’s worth keeping in mind that delaying the hire of a paralegal might mean new headaches altogether. If there are other lawyers who already work for your firm, they might get fed up with increased work loads they know could be handled by another employee. Don’t wait too long, or you might find yourself with even more work!
Did a client complain? This is the number one reason to hire a paralegal right away. When you can’t properly serve a client’s interests, you need more help.
There are temporary solutions to some of the problems you have with time management, employee retention, or lost clients. You could purchase automated software to streamline many of the data entry aspects of legal work. These programs can usually be used to assign tasks to your firm’s various branches as well. But none of this is a replacement for a living, breathing person.