There’s never been a better time to consider hiring a paralegal or legal assistant for your law practice.
The benefits – from costs savings to improved client service – are manifold. That’s especially true for solo practitioners and small firm lawyers.
“Really good paralegals are worth their weight in gold,” writes law practice consultant Roy Ginsburg for Attorney at Work. “When help is needed, the first thing to consider is hiring a paralegal. Of course, there are some practice areas where a paralegal is not suitable. For instance, if you need someone to make a lot of court appearances, you must hire a lawyer. Whenever possible, however, default to a paralegal instead of a lawyer.
In the Attorney at Work article, Ginsburg cites these advantages of paralegals:
- Less money
- Increased billable hours
- Increased profits
- Improved client service
- Easier to manage
- Less competition
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NC Rule of Professional Conduct 5.3: Responsibilities Regarding Nonlawyer Assistants
With respect to a nonlawyer employed or retained by or associated with a lawyer:
(a) a principal, and a lawyer who individually or together with other lawyers possesses comparable managerial authority in a law firm or organization shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm or organization has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that the nonlawyer’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer;
(b) a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the nonlawyer’s conduct is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer; and
(c) a lawyer shall be responsible for conduct of such a nonlawyer that would be a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct if engaged in by a lawyer if:
(1) the lawyer orders or, with the knowledge of the specific conduct, ratifies the conduct involved; or
(2) the lawyer is a principal or has comparable managerial authority in the law firm or organization in which the person is employed, or has direct supervisory authority over the nonlawyer, and knows of the conduct at a time when its consequences can be avoided or mitigated but fails to take reasonable remedial action to avoid the consequences.
Comment  Paragraph (a) requires lawyers with managerial authority within a law firm or organization to make reasonable efforts to ensure that the firm has in effect measures giving reasonable assurance that nonlawyers in the firm and nonlawyers outside the firm who work on firm matters act in a way compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer.
Comment  Lawyers generally employ assistants in their practice, including secretaries, investigators, law student interns, and paraprofessionals. Such assistants, whether employees or independent contractors, act for the lawyer in rendition of the lawyer’s professional services. A lawyer must give such assistants appropriate instruction and supervision concerning the ethical aspects of their employment, particularly regarding the obligation not to disclose information relating to representation of the client, and should be responsible for their work product. The measures employed in supervising nonlawyers should take account of the fact that they do not have legal training and are not subject to professional discipline
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