Once upon a time, there was a law office with a secretary, a manual typewriter, and a landline. If a client called and there was nobody in the office, they were greeted by an endlessly ringing phone with no answering machine. Their next call was to a new attorney. That’s why many offices had “receptionist” relief staff. The job of answering the phone was a big one, even in a small law office, because without email everything had to be discussed on the phone.
Thankfully now, with today’s technology, we can streamline things simply by handling business with little to no overhead by running our business remotely while passing the savings on to the clients. This also makes for much more convenience for the customer as well.
Back in “the day,” legal typing was a serious skill that only few could master. That’s why there were so many schools devoted to teaching it. Every legal document had to be typed with no mistakes, and sometimes with enough pressure to make several carbon copies. Time is money, and fast, accurate typing was a skill that was in demand by law offices. Most attorneys did not know how to type at all, and they were at the mercy of typists to get their work done. Manual labor was required to move stacks of paper, redwells and boxes around the office, as pleadings, discovery and everything else was done on paper, often with many required copies. A good part of an attorney’s office space was dedicated just to files, with offsite record storage for closed cases. Amazingly, some law offices still maintain this high overhead without realizing it’s an anachronism until it’s too late. When overhead begins to exceed revenue, these offices have to close their doors.
Competition for clients is fierce as the attorney advertising floods the internet and bad reviews can send clients running. That’s why so many attorneys are waking up and realizing that in order to stay in business, they must reduce their overhead. The challenge is to bring down ongoing costs, without skimping on customer service and the quality of their legal representation. Thankfully, advances in technology have made this goal within reach.
Today’s law office doesn’t require as much staff, or even as much space and law offices become increasingly “paperless.” Of course, there’s still a great deal of work to do, and attorneys still benefit from support, especially attorneys in document driven areas that spend a great deal of time in court. Today’s attorneys need bright, well-educated paralegals that can assist them by drafting correspondence and pleadings and efiling the documents with the court. They need to have that help available well after the work comes in, and to be able to reduce their staff after a major settlement or trial. That’s why so many smart savvy attorneys are turning to virtual paralegals as their solution.