There comes a time in the growth of every solo or small firm when you have to consider hiring a paralegal.
It's certainly not a necessity at the beginning, and you may be at a point where one might be helpful but there isn't really a way to justify the cost. But when you decide you need some extra help, you'll have to choose between a full-time employee and just sending out contract work.
Both routes have benefits, and what you choose will depend on your particular needs. To help with that process, here are some things you should consider when making your choice:
How much work is there? The most obvious consideration is whether there's enough work to justify a full-time position. Think about what kinds of tasks need to be done but also about what tasks you could delegate to another person and maximize your efficiency. Don't just consider whether there are enough daily tasks right now. Also think about whether you're turning down work because you can't take on more without help.
What kind of work is it? Is the work you need help with administrative tasks or legal work? Do you need someone who can actually appear in court or just someone to write briefs and motions? Take some time to consider the skills needed to do the work before you decide who you want to hire.
What are your long-term plans? If you plan to keep expanding your firm, then it may be helpful to hire your first employee while you still have some time to train him to do things your way. You may also want to consider hiring a new attorney to do some of that work as a way to grow your business. Hiring a contract worker can also be a tryout period so you can see how well you work together before taking the step of hiring a full-time employee.