When you think about being a paralegal, the general picture that's conjured up is a bunch of attorneys, a paralegal an arm's length from those attorneys, a file clerk frantically looking for the document the attorney swears he never had, phones ringing, computers crashing (well, they do....), chaos, activity, energy, excitement and calm. Calm? Well, I thought I'd throw that in there.
Somehow, you don't conjure up a paralegal perhaps 600 miles away, doing your work, turning it in before the deadline, moving on to the next client, booking business, doing back office work, marketing, filling up her calendar months in advance and calm. Calm? Well, I thought I'd have to put that in there, too.
Meet Brenda Studebaker, virtual paralegal. Brenda is a member of the exploding cottage industry of virtual paralegals. That is, paralegals who no longer have to be 3 arm's lengths from the attorney to make him feel comfy, safe and satisfied that his/her work is going to be done. It's all on the Internet now. Zip, download, push button, send, Skype, run up to the Cloud or whatever you need to do to get the work done and into the attorney's ever filling computer. And let's not even go to where her job satisfaction has soared, her independence has strengthened and her income, well, we said we weren't going there but it's not a bad place to be.
Why does someone choose to work on their own? We're not talking about paralegals servicing the public. Let's not get mixed up those who prepare documents directly for the consumer. We're talking about real paralegals working directly for the law firm only they work from their own offices or even their home office. It's becoming a big business, particularly for the mid-size, small firm or solo. Who needs to pay for office space anymore when you don't need a paralegal on a full-time basis? The large firms seem to be laying off a tad lately and the business seems to be going to the smaller firms who cannot afford to hire full-time all the time. Here's a perfect fit if the paralegal has a business sense and knows how to market a business. Brenda Studebaker seems to have caught on to this here-to-stay-business model. I spoke with her recently. Here are a few highlights of that conversation from a Texas-born, now Arizona paralegal with 3 great kids making it on her own in a successful business:
What's your work history?
What is your ability to work on your own?