Legal Column

Legal Column
Legal Article Jane Haskins is a legal website and blog writer and former practicing attorney. Jane litigated business disputes for 12 years before opening her own law firm representing small business owners in business formation, contracts, employment issues, landlord-tenant disputes and dissolution.

Outsourcing to Boost Your Bottom Line

Outsourcing to Boost Your Bottom Line

When I opened a solo law practice a few years back, I did everything myself. And I quickly discovered that while I enjoyed marketing and meeting with clients, I hated sending out monthly invoices. I wasted a lot of time on technical and administrative tasks - like creating a website – when I would have been better off networking and looking for clients.

If you have a small law firm, you’re probably way ahead of me. You may already have staff to help you with calendaring, filing and document preparation. You may have outsourced payroll and bookkeeping. But you may also still be doing far more administrative work and routine legal tasks than you should. And you may not realize just how much time you’d gain and money you’d save by outsourcing.

Financial Benefits of Outsourcing

Outsourcing can mean anything from contracting with a receptionist service to using a paralegal in India.When you outsource, you take tasks off your plate without the overhead and financial risk of hiring a full-time employee. Some things can be outsourced to someone overseas who may do the work at a lower rate than a U.S. based worker.Outsourcing gives you the flexibility to scale up or down as your workflow changes and may allow you to reduce the square footage of your physical office.

Functions that you can outsource include:

  • Bookkeeping and payroll.
  • Receptionist. For a monthly fee, you can have a friendly professional voice answer your calls and take messages, using a script you provide.
  • Discovery, from major document reviews to e-discovery management.
  • IT.
  • Marketing. An all-in-one marketing company can create and maintain your website, blog, social media and paid online advertising, or you can just outsource some functions like website creation, search engine optimization and designing marketing materials.
  • Paralegal tasks. Computer-based document preparation and e-discovery make it easier for paralegals to work remotely.
  • Attorneys. Contract attorneys can do research and draft documents, supply additional expertise that you don’t have, or handle routine depositions and court appearances.
  • Miscellaneous tasks. A virtual assistant lets you hire one person for a variety of tasks, from calendaring and filing to marketing.

Some lawyers use outsourcing to get rid of the tasks they like the least or are least competent at – like search engine optimization or bookkeeping. You might also analyze how you spend your time and outsource the biggest drains on your productive hours.

Finding and Working with Outside Contractors

When people work virtually, you need them to be reliable, but it can be hard to keep tabs on them. One way to protect against unreliable contractors is to hire an established company to provide the service you’re looking for. For example, legal temporary staffing agencies can provide document review lawyers, or a receptionist service may offer a variety of virtual assistant services in addition to simply answering phones.

Another approach is to use an online service that connects contractors with people who need work done. Upwork, Guru and Custom Counsel are examples. An advantage of these services is that you can easily solicit proposals from a variety of people and read reviews from others before you make a hiring decision. To make sure the person you choose is a good fit, you may want to start with a low priority test project before deciding whether to set up an ongoing relationship.

To maximize your chances of success, clearly communicate your needs, expectations and deadlines and make sure your freelancer understands the importance of confidentiality.If you find yourself with a contractor who is not meeting your expectations or not communicating with you, don’t hesitate to discontinue the relationship and find someone else.

Outsourcing can reduce your labor costs, keep your firm lean and profitable in slow times, and free you to do more high level legal work. Or maybe it will help youfinally take a vacation this summer.

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