When I was fresh out of law school I had visions of providing clients with the highest quality of service regardless of their income. However, reality sunk in when I started my solo practice.
No matter how hard I tried to keep my fees under control, no person of modest means could afford me. Between office tasks and legal work, I was always overworked and underpaid. If I lowered my fees, I wouldn’t earn enough to cover office expenses and pay off my student loans.
Then, I hired Katelyn.
Katelyn had just graduated with a BS in paralegal studies and she wanted to put her knowledge to good use. At the time, I wasn’t aware of how useful paralegals could be so I just gave Katelyn office tasks. Katelyn, not happy with the situation, eventually managed to wring legal work from me.
And then I had an epiphany: Smart paralegals are just as helpful in a law office as a lawyer. Yet, they bill at less than half the hourly rate of an attorney. If we use paralegals, our client’s legal fees can be lowered without sacrificing our quality of service.
Now I work with two brilliant paralegals, Katelyn and Tim. They handle the routine day-to-day legal tasks, pleadings and motions. They do legal research, keep track of deadlines and — on slow days — they even beat me at scrabble.
There are times I wish Katelyn and Tim were full-fledged attorneys. They can’t give legal advice and they can’t attend court hearings. Yet, this is a small price to pay for working with two of the smartest and hardest working people I know.