When to Hire a Paralegal vs. a Lawyer for Your Law Firm

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Is your law firm experiencing an uptick in business? If so, you might be wondering if it’s time to hire another attorney to handle the extra legal work.

As a premier legal staffing agency, we know your hiring decisions require careful consideration, and you shouldn’t jump the gun when it comes to your business—especially because there might be a more effective, cost-efficient hiring solution: paralegals.

Let’s explore the difference between paralegals and lawyers so you can decide which one is right for your current needs.

Let’s get started.

Paralegal vs. Lawyer: What’s the difference?

There are some key differences between paralegals and lawyers that can impact your bottom line, so it’s critical that you’re current on the common duties of paralegals vs. lawyers.

What’s a Paralegal?

A paralegal is a legal professional who supports lawyers and other legal experts. They cannot offer legal advice or represent clients in court, but they can perform a multitude of other tasks, including:

  • Conducting legal research
  • Drafting legal documents such as discovery requests, motions, and pleadings
  • Filing paperwork, billing clients, maintaining the firm’s calendar, and other administrative duties
  • Drafting legal agreements and assisting in contract administration
  • Participating in case management
  • Answering questions for and communicating with clients, court personnel, and vendors

What Does a Lawyer Do?

Lawyers, on the other hand, have a broader scope of practice and are authorized to provide legal advice to their clients. They can perform all the tasks that paralegals do, but they’re also responsible for advising clients on the law, negotiating on their behalf, and representing them in court or before administrative agencies.

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Do You Need Another Lawyer, or Can You Hire a Paralegal Instead?

Now that you’re caught up on what a paralegal’s role looks like compared to a lawyer’s, can you hire a paralegal over a lawyer to support your firm’s growing needs?

We’ve put together a few key considerations before answering this question.

What’s the Current Workload Like?

First, ask your attorneys if they feel overloaded with administrative work. If they do, paralegals and legal secretaries can help ease this workload.

As we mentioned, they can perform many tasks lawyers can, like legal research, contract drafting, and other duties. Hiring a paralegal to take over some of this work can free up your lawyers’ time to focus on their primary duties, like advising clients or preparing defense and prosecution statements.

But if your firm’s workload is mainly focused on complex legal issues, hiring another lawyer may be the better option. They have the legal knowledge and expertise to tackle complex legal matters, while paralegals are typically limited in their scope of work.

Do You Have Any Budgeting Constraints?

Your next consideration when deciding whether to hire a paralegal vs. lawyer should be cost. Why? Because the cost of hiring a lawyer can be significantly higher than that of a paralegal, and this may present some budgeting concerns.

Still, it’s important to consider the long-term impact of the decision. Hiring a paralegal is cost-efficient, but a lawyer can help your firm take on more complex cases. It could be a worthwhile investment, because it may lead to increased revenue, more profits, and a better reputation.

Are You Trying to Grow Your Firm?

Your firm’s growth is another important factor to consider, especially if you’re looking to take on more clients or expand into other practice areas.

If you are looking to grow, hiring another lawyer may be necessary to achieve this goal. They can support your business by taking on complex cases and handling various legal issues, which can ultimately increase your client base and revenue.

Plus, some practice areas are highly specialized and require a niche understanding of the law, making lawyers invaluable to successfully supporting clients with related legal issues.

Hire an Attorney or Paralegal with Our Help

Ultimately, the decision between hiring a paralegal vs. lawyer will depend on the unique needs and goals of your law firm. Not sure where you stand? Start by asking the above questions, then go from there. And when you’re ready to hire a paralegal, an attorney, or any other legal professional, we’ll be there to help.

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We’ve got you covered. Questions? Call us toll-free: 855-485-8853