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The virtual paralegal  blog is where we discuss upcoming training, resources, events, products, services and news relevant to the virtual paralegal business.  

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  • 10 May 2022 10:05 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)
  • 15 Dec 2021 5:13 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    What are the rules of gift-gifting if you are a freelancer or a virtual paralegal? If you want to give your client a thank you gift, there are ways that won’t cross the line between “loved working with you” and “give me more work”. The etiquette can be a bit tricky. You do not want the gift to be too expensive or personal. It should be a small token of a thoughtful expression and gratitude.

    Some suggest a hand written “thank you” note alone or combined with a coffee gift card worth no more than $25.00.

    Others suggest promotional items such as pens, note pads and mugs with your business name and logo on them. I read an article that suggested the following:

    If you give a person a pen with your logo on it, they’ll remember it for a few days.

    If you give a person a nice pen with *their* name on it, they’ll not only remember who gave it to them, they’ll probably hold on to it for a lot longer.

    So, whether you should give your client a gift is a personal choice but if you do, keep it professional and make it more about saying thank you and save the business promotion for another time.

  • 13 Dec 2021 4:37 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    The pandemic has transformed millions of employees into overnight virtual workers. The legal industry who was reluctant to embrace technology is now into overdrive on the future of delivering their services to clients.

    The coronavirus has also accelerated a major shift to freelancing that is severing ties between companies and employees. Unemployed and furlough paralegals have started or considered freelancing which have added to the increased proportion of the workforce on freelance job platforms. However, many paralegals are turning to freelancing out of necessity, and not by choice.

    Julia Pollak, a labor economist with the job site ZipRecruiter, says there has been a dramatic shift in job postings on the site from permanent to temporary. Due to the uncertainty of the current economy employers are reluctant to hire permanent workers.

    Zoom, e-signature, and e-notarization are some of the tools that have companies rethinking permanent staff and renewing leases for physical real estate.

    However, even though some paralegals are forced to start virtual/freelance paralegal businesses, research has shown that the vast majority are still looking for permanent, full-time positions that include benefits such as health care and a steady paycheck.

  • 06 Dec 2021 4:53 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    According to PayScale’s Compensation Best Practices Report, remote work is becoming a major part of law firms’ benefit packages. Most paralegal positions posted on LinkedIn come with some type of remote working arrangement at least until the pandemic is controlled. Law firms are looking for ways to reduce their payroll expenses by having their paralegals work remotely.

    Some have already seen some cost savings from a remote work strategy that have nothing to do with base pay, particularly as regards to infrastructure. For example, law firms could save money by shrinking their office space, reducing, or eliminating commuter benefits, and reducing expenses associated with workplace meals and other perks that are attractive benefits in an onsite work environment.

    Even though they may appear to be some upfront savings with remote employees’; law firm should expect to see new expenses with supporting a remote workforce such as: computers, monitors or other home office equipment, stipends for internet connectivity, upskilling or reskilling to help employees thrive in a remote work environment and collaboration software and other cloud-based technology.

    These expenses are usually the responsibility of the virtual paralegals that would save law firms and legal departments in payroll costs.

  • 29 Nov 2021 4:44 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    The discussion about non-lawyers practicing law without a law license has been an ongoing debate but it usually focuses on non-lawyers providing legal advice. The Arizona Supreme Court has taken a different spin on the debate and has unanimously approved that non-lawyers such as paralegals can now own a stake in a law firm.

    This ruling has eliminated the ethics rule 5.4, which bars non-lawyers from having an economic interest in a law firm, now creating new businesses called “Alternative Business Structures.” The court also instituted a new licensure process that will allow non-lawyers, called “legal paraprofessionals,” to begin providing limited legal services, including being able to go into court with clients.

    The changes, effective as of Jan. 1st, “will make it possible for more people to access affordable legal services and for more individuals and families to get legal advice and help. The new rules will promote business innovation in providing legal services at affordable prices,” said Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Brutinel in a statement.

  • 22 Nov 2021 4:10 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Law firms and legal agencies around the world were forced to quickly adapt to work from home policies to avoid closing their offices, which became mandatory for other businesses due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

    There have been mixed feelings about this new norm, whereas some paralegals appreciate the flexibility to work anywhere convenient for them and report savings from commuting to and from the office.

    Remote work has grown in popularity with 80 percent preferring to work from home, but the reality is only 3.6 percent of the total employee workforce currently works remotely.

    However, employers are realizing that remote work shows an increase in productivity; according to a recent survey from the Global Workplace Analytics, employees are more productive 75 percent of the time they are working from home compared to 63 percent of the time in the office.

    The objective of a distributed workforce is ostensibly to decrease payroll expenses.

    However, Attorneys should not assume that a remote work strategy will save their law firm money. Research into salary data reveals that remote workers are actually paid more than people who work in an office. 

    It is important to note that remote workers are not paid more because they work remotely. Rather, it is more likely that remote work opportunities currently tend to be reserved for high performers who have earned trust to work from home.

    How will this change the demand for virtual paralegals? Will law firms and legal departments want to outsource to freelance paralegals who own their businesses as independent contractors or continue to hire remote paralegals as employees?

    If the goal is to decrease their overhead cost, they will lean toward hiring virtual/freelance paralegals where they can reduce the cost associated with hiring full-time & part-time employees.

    Whereas companies seeking to recruit top candidates and retain top performers will need to start to offer home office setups or consider factoring the costs of working from an office into their compensation packages which is not expected when they hire virtual paralegals.

    Virtual Paralegal provide their own equipment and software necessary to complete and deliver their services to their clients.

  • 15 Nov 2021 3:38 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    One of the benefits of operating a virtual paralegal business is the flexibility to work from anywhere outside of a law office. Many companies have recently gone on record with a newly adopted work-from-anywhere or hybrid teams approach including Twitter, Google, Facebook, Zillow, Slack, Microsoft, and Capital One. Early data is already showing that one in five Americans has relocated due to COVID-19.

    Remote workers have reported saving an average of 40 minutes commuting to and from the office in addition to the cost of travel.

    There is an aspect of mental health and work-life balance benefits to working outside of the traditional office. Seventy-two percent of survey respondents agreed that the ability to work remotely would make them less stressed and 77% reported that working remotely would make them better able to manage work-life balance.

    It is time for law firms and legal departments to rethink the way they work, and rethink the products, tools, and strategies currently in place, or need to employ or outsource to better support remote work, virtual/freelance and hybrid teams.

  • 08 Nov 2021 4:26 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    The legal industry in the United States is primarily regulated by judges and lawyers, this makes access to legal help for average Americans enormously expensive and out of reach. The only way to increase access to justice is to expand the group of people and organizations that can provide legal help beyond JD-trained and licensed lawyers.

    Millions of litigants across the country have no choice but to represent themselves in state courts even though they do not have any understanding of the law and legal procedures. Some States argue that allowing paralegals, authorized non-lawyers and organizations could help ease overburdened state courts and reduce their backlog significantly.

    The use of non-JD legal assistants and non-lawyer dominated businesses is not a venture into uncharted waters. The United Kingdom has a long history of allowing a wide variety of differently trained individuals and organizations to provide legal assistance, and studies show that the practice works very well. In many cases, people are better served by a non-lawyer organization that specializes in a particular type of legal help navigating housing or bankruptcy matters, for example a solo practitioner with a general practice.

    Some states are considering the recommendation to use non-lawyers to assist clients in some practice areas including Chicago, California, New York, Utah, & District of Columbia. However, The Washington Supreme Court will "sunset” the state’s Limited License Legal Technicians program that has permitted non-lawyers to perform some legal tasks within family law.

    “The program was an innovative attempt to increase access to legal services,” Chief Justice Debra L. Stephens wrote in her letter. “However, after careful consideration of the overall costs of sustaining the program and the small number of interested individuals, a majority of the court determined that the LLLT program is not an effective way to meet these needs and voted to sunset the program.”

  • 01 Nov 2021 4:51 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    On March 18, 2020, Senate Bill 3533, the Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020 (the “SECURE Act”), was introduced as bipartisan legislation to authorize and establish minimum standards for electronic and remote notarizations that occur in or affect interstate commerce. A substantially identical version of the bill was introduced in the House on March 23, 2020 as H.R.6364. If the SECURE Act becomes law in its current form, it will authorize every notary in the US to perform remote online notarizations (RON) using audio-visual communications and tamper-evident technology in connection with interstate transactions.

    Currently, there are twenty-eight states that have enacted some form of remote online notarization (RON) law: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota*, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. [updated October 22].

    The basic components of each state’s RON law are to:

    Allows notarial acts to be completed using audio-video communication, including acts where the signer is located outside the state in which the notary is authorized to operate.

    Require that the notary authenticate the person signing; and

    Require recording of the audio-video communication.

    For more details about state emergency actions, visit the National Notary Association’s State Notary Laws Updates.

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