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If you're looking to expand your practice, one of the most basic ways of doing that is through hiring an employee. But can you afford to hire another employee? Maybe you've hired one in the past only to realize that he or she wasn't fit for the job, or maybe she was too skilled and left for greener pastures. Now you're licking your wounds.
Well, you've tried it before, maybe you should consider the idea again -- or at least explore some alternatives.
What NOT to Do
First consider some of the things you shouldn't do. One, don't hire in a panic.
The conventional wisdom is that you should only hire when you're drowning in work. That, according to some, is exactly what you don't want to do.
Waiting till you're drowning in work isn't probably the best strategy, because by that time, the supposed "gains" you made in saving money are lost because of the loss of quality and even potential loss of business -- because you couldn't accept new cases.
Hiring Employees vs. Independent Contractors
Fortunately, there are plenty of job-seekers out there who are already trained up -- but you're gonna pay for that. The perceived reality of the market right now is that good paralegals or legal assistants are expensive and lawyers want to hire people who are ready to go today.
These numbers maybe are a little fresh so we feel okay to use them as a guideline. According to Robert Half Legal, salary trends for the legal field have been climbing -- for both lawyers and their help. There's some indication that contract attorneys and other lawyers working as independent contractors has affected the industry some but it's still too early to tell.
Off-Site Help, Contractors, and Tele-Receptionists
In fact, there's an argument to be made that hiring an off site legal assistant might be just the ticket for you if you're looking to reduce costs while still getting a lot of the benefit of a paralegal. It just doesn't really make too much sense -- and most solos don't have the risk appetitte -- to hire a living and breathing body whom might be making more than you for your first year.
In our opinion, one of the best ways is to try and contract with independent attorneys and paralegals to assist you in your caseload, and see how that arrangement works. After all, "virtual receptionists" and other offsite help is the "in" thing these days. If the relationship is good, maybe you'll want to consider hiring actual warm bodies. But keep in mind, once someone is your employee, it's harder emotionally and financially to end a relationship when things go sour.
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