Virtual Paralegals are contract, independent or freelance paralegals qualified by education, training or work experience who are employed or retained by a lawyer, law office, corporation, governmental agency or other entity and who performs specifically delegated substantive legal work for which a lawyer is responsible on an as needed basis with such services being supplied through the use of technology and remote access systems.
What are the legal restrictions for starting a virtual paralegal business?
Virtual paralegals are not required to hold a license in order to perform their duties as paralegals.
However, the legal restriction for operating a virtual paralegal business is for the virtual paralegal to work exclusively under the supervision of licensed attorneys to prevent unauthorized practice of law.
Virtual paralegals must always represent themselves as the paralegal and never an attorney and maintain a log of all their clients and projects to prevent any conflicts of interest.
What education and skills are needed to start a virtual paralegal business?
Virtual paralegals have to be able to work accurately and effectively in a highly confidential, detail and result-oriented environment. They have to have effective interpersonal, customer service and communication skills to interact effectively with all levels of management and regulators. Virtual paralegals are self-motivated and are capable of working both independently as well as in a team.
The education necessary to become a virtual paralegal is the same as a paralegal who works in a law office. Paralegals may have a variety of formal education. Some obtain a one-year certificate, while others have two or four-year degrees in paralegal studies. Some paralegals have a combination of some form of paralegal education and a four-year degree in some other area of study.
What is the required work experience for virtual paralegals?
Most virtual paralegals have several years of experience working in a law office and/or in-house legal departments. It is recommended that before starting a virtual paralegal business you should have worked as a paralegal for 3 or more years. Though it is not required, most virtual paralegals specialize in one or more practice areas.
How do virtual paralegals communicate with their clients?
Virtual paralegals communicate with their clients in several ways that may or may not include face to face meetings:
Some methods of communication for virtual paralegals may include the following:
- Online video conferencing such as: Skype
- Online workspace such as: Dropbox.com
- Practice management software
- Social media
- Direct Mail
Where do virtual paralegals work?
The term “virtual” means that the paralegal performs his/her duties outside of the traditional law office.
Most virtual paralegals work from their home office using notebook computers. With secure internet connection they can complete their assignments anywhere.
They also have an online presence. Most virtual paralegals have a website, blog and social media pages. However, with a smart phone, tablet or laptop virtual paralegals can get their work done just about anywhere.
What are the practice areas suitable for a virtual paralegal business?
A paralegal may launch a virtual paralegal business in any practice area that allows them to offer their services remotely. It is highly recommended that you start your business in the areas where you have substantial experience.
Virtual paralegals are usually experts in their practice areas. There is little or no on the job training.
What are virtual paralegals target markets?
The target markets for the services of virtual paralegals are solo practitioners, small law firms and in-house legal departments. Some virtual paralegals work with government agencies as well as other virtual paralegals.
What is the minimal cost for launching a virtual paralegal business?
The general start-up cost for a virtual paralegal business can range from $500 to $5,000. If you already have a computer/tablet or smart phone you already cut your start-up cost in half.
How much can you make working as a virtual paralegal?
Generally, virtual paralegals fees range from $25 - $100 per hour. Your fees will depend on your practice areas and the demand for your services. You should also factor in the geographical location of your clients.
What type of tasks do virtual paralegals perform?
The types of tasks that are delegated to virtual paralegals depend on their practice areas.
An attorney may ask a corporate paralegal to draft an article of incorporation, by-laws and organize company records whereas; a bankruptcy attorney may ask a virtual paralegal to draft petitions.
For more information on the virtual paralegal business; please visit the Virtual Paralegal Training Center™