How Paralegals Help Their Firms Improve Operations
Paralegals play a critical role in the success of any law firm. Their skill sets and expertise deliver value in many aspects, including operations. Many processes, tasks, and responsibilities are affected by how paralegals improve operations.
A paralegal’s services primarily help lawyers with workloads. As a result, attorneys are able to accomplish more, meet deadlines, and serve the needs of clients. To do this well, they must master operational efficiency. The responsibilities associated with operational improvements vary depending on the firm’s practice areas and size. No matter the organization’s structure, improving operations is always top of mind because of the results doing so can lead to, such as eliminating manual work, boosting productivity, and reimaging workflows.
In this post, we’ll dive into how paralegals improve operations, the benefits that arise from this, and the skills that every paralegal needs to be an expert at operations.
How efficient are your operational processes?
As a paralegal, you have many operational duties, from reviewing client files to researching to drafting documents. For each of these, you have specific workflows. However, not all of these may be efficient. For example, you may have a process for researching case law, but failure to have access to this digitally may require more manual work on your part.
There are many opportunities to move toward more efficient practices. By doing so, you can reduce how long it takes to do a task, streamline all the actions in the workflow, or automate some things.
Determining how paralegals can improve operations starts with an assessment of what you’re doing now and where the gaps persist.
For the responsibilities in your purview, it’s worth evaluating where the biggest issues are in terms of inefficiency and time drains. That could include:
Conducting legal research
Filing lawsuits, exhibits, briefs, appeals, and others
Conducting electronic discovery
Handling process serving
Creating legal documents
In your assessment, define what processes you have now, where the challenges and friction arise, and guidelines for improving them. Because you have intimate knowledge of these things compared to the attorneys you support, your perspective will be instrumental in ushering any changes. In many cases, that will involve technology.
Legal technology is in demand and supports operations.
For almost all of a paralegal’s services and the duties they perform, technology is the bridge to efficiency. Online tools for paralegals could dramatically change how you work for the better. When determining what legal technology to consider and adopt, you’ll need to do your research. In some cases, there are many options, such as the multiple eDiscovery solutions on the market.
Legal technology is a fast-growing industry, with experts projecting it will hit $25 billion by 2025. That number is growing because firms and organizations are shifting budgets into the channel, according to a Gartner survey. That same survey noted that legal departments will automate half of all legal work by 2024.
With these legal technology trends shaping the future, your company will welcome your recommendations for working more efficiently. By bringing new tools to the table, you can be instrumental in improving your firm’s operations. With no more barriers to being tech-centric, your organization will see this as a smart move.
Paralegal-led operational improvements benefit law firms.
The value you deliver to law firms regarding operations can make a world of difference in workload, billable hours, and reducing expenses. Those are all things every organization wants to achieve.
Here are some examples of improving operations and the results.
By improving workflows and integrating new technology, the entire firm can do more in less time. Processes that now take hours can decrease significantly. The way to get there is by leveraging technology that reduces manual work or duplication of tasks.
More Billable Hours
If you spend less time on administrative work classified as nonbillable, you can spend more time on work that is. There will never be more than 24 hours in a day. By working in more intentional ways that seek to eliminate inefficiencies, law firms can bill more time to clients.
When your firm is more proficient and uses cost-effective tools to curb spending waste, you’ll save the company money. Consider some of the areas of operations that cost the most. Many of them are such high-budget items because of the labor associated with them. Technology ensures you’re less dependent on that, reducing costs.
Consider a specific operational use case: process serving.
While legal technology adoption is increasing, not all operational areas have become modern and digital. Take process serving, for example. It has long been a source of antiquated practices that aren’t standardized by firms.
Finding process servers, back-and-forth communication, and all the other pieces of getting a job complete are huge drains on your time. Issues come up all the time that impact serving, leaving you to need to find a new server or keep trying. Not only is this inefficient, but it can also become costly very quickly.
Now, there’s a technology solution that transforms the process serving experience. Proof is a single platform that has vetted, experienced servers ready for work in all 50 states. You submit all jobs and documents through a secure portal. The system then matches you with a server. You can track progress in the platform.
It takes a very analog process and reworks it to be digital, saving firms time and money.
There are three skills paralegals need to be operationally minded.
Beyond the introduction of technology, there are specific skills you can hone that focus on being an expert at operations.
1. Excellent Organizational Skills
The volume of documents and data for every case keeps growing. You’re also in a time-sensitive industry. While being organized can involve a lot, you’ll find it can most impact operations when you have:
Repeatable, consistent procedures
Software tools that streamline, automate, and track tasks
Collaborative practices that work toward common operational goals
2. Knowledge of the Latest Tools
Legal tech is evolving and offering more than just simple operational workflows. Staying up to date on what’s new is critical to improving operations for tomorrow. If you aren’t aware of all the paralegal tools that can save you time and resources, check out our list. Any of these can work to make procedures more consistent.
3. Ability to Make More Data-Driven Decisions
Using data to make operational decisions can provide many advantages to your firm. In any process or procedure, if you can measure it, do so. That data will be valuable in determining how you can evolve and improve. Learning more about data analysis around the functions of your firm will be a skill that helps you now and for many years to come.
How will you enhance operations in your law firm this year?
Every law firm wants to run more efficiently and reduce costs. Much of this relates to operations. By assessing operational gaps and looking for ways to close them, you can make an impact that will help everyone.
Paralegals that make improvements in operations deliver more value to their organizations. That’s something everyone wants to provide to their company. You hold the ability to do this, and you’ll find that technology is the key.
Proof can be an answer for you. It streamlines and automates many aspects of process serving. See how it can improve your operations today by downloading our brochure.