What They Didn’t Teach You in Law School #7: Where to Find Cost-Effective Help

A couple weeks ago, I gave you tips on how to ask for help and which tasks to delegate when trying to juggle both a busy law practice and an equally chaotic home life.

This week we will move on from the “how” and talk more about the “who.”

Let’s face it, hiring new employees is not cheap, and adding full-time staff can also add other costs, such as additional desk space, computers, phone lines and other overhead expenses.

If you are looking for a cost-effective way to help you manage your law practice, there are a few good resources that you might not have thought about: virtual assistants, case support services, mentoring programs and interns.

Manage your law practice and legal work by tapping into these cost-effective, cheap and sometimes free resources:

Tap Your Mentors – Find Mentors

If you don’t have at least one mentor right now, you should start looking. Having a mentor will help you advance your career by giving you someone to look to for advice, guidance and inspiration.

A good mentor will be someone in your practice area with experience and knowledge about specific areas of law, networking opportunities in your area, tips on where to find clients in your area and perspectives on legal issues that you might have missed in school.

In most big law firms, it is common to match new attorneys with a mentor. If you own your own firm or work in a smaller office, however, you may need to take a few extra steps to find veteran attorneys in your practice area to help you transition from student to practicing attorney.

One good place to start is your local bar association.

In addition, a quick search for “lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring” in Google will bring up many pages that link to state bar association programs.

Most of these programs are free with your bar membership, and they allow you to search for attorneys within your specific city, practice area and other criteria.

Get Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants are great for small offices that need help managing the phone lines but do not have the financial resources or space to staff extra assistants for the sole purpose of answering the phone.

In addition to providing professional phone services, virtual assistants can help with administrative work, client correspondence, travel arrangements, calendaring, writing, marketing and a number of other tasks.

While hiring a virtual assistant is not free, it does cost a lot less than putting someone on your full-time payroll, setting up an expensive in-office phone system, and renting extra office space.

Many virtual assistant services offer month-to-month contracts and specialize in the legal industry.

Hire Interns to Help You

Interns can be extremely valuable assets in your law firm because many interns are willing to work diligently for little or no money because they are looking for ways to showcase talent and advance their careers.

Competition is high among second and third-year law students who are looking for clerking positions, so you will probably have the opportunity to choose from a large number of highly competent and eager applicants.

Try contacting nearby law schools for information about their career services recruitment process. If you plan to hire an unpaid internship, be sure to research employment laws in your area and find out whether interns can receive school credit for their work.

An ideal internship program will be beneficial to both the employer and the intern, so try to give your interns work that is relevant to their career goals.

Get Case Support Services for Your Firm

Many practice areas deal with a lot of time-consuming research and paperwork that might overwhelm a small firm or solo practice office.

By hiring a case support service, you can outsource tasks such as filling out forms and collecting research data so that you can focus on the actual practice of law. This will allow you to take on more clients and stay organized.

Many service providers have staff working around the clock both in the U.S. and abroad.

That means that a form that might take a part-time clerk and entire week to fill out could only take 24-hours for a case support service provider who can put staff on the job around the clock.

On top of faster turnaround times and the ability to help you manage a larger caseload, case support services will only charge you on a per-case basis. That means that you will not waste money on an employee sitting in your office during down time.