As a continuation of our last blog, Paralegal Job Market Challenges, Pamela Starr, “Virtual Paralegal Extraordinaire”, shares more with us about the advantages of owning a paralegal business, and tips for thriving in today’s marketplace.
Pamela, what are the advantages to owning a freelance paralegal business?
Wow, where should I start? For one thing, I no longer have to deal with rush hour traffic. I just walk downstairs to my office – and there’s not a lot of traffic on the stairs! I love having the absolute freedom that comes with being able to work anytime and anywhere. I don’t have to ask for permission to travel, to attend conferences, or anything else that I need or want to do for myself or my business.
For instance, several years ago, my best friend called to tell me her mother had just died and she really needed me to be there for her. I was able to leave the next day and spend a month helping her through everything. I took my laptop and was available to her and still able to work on and in my business without any interruption in services. I never could have done that if I had been a traditional employee. The flexibility in my schedule also allowed me to go back to school to earn my Master of Science of Law, and, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’m working on a second Master’s degree.
But along with great freedom comes great responsibility. I’m the one responsible for everything that happens in my business and I sometimes end up rearranging my schedule to accommodate a late or emergency filing. Still, it has been the most amazing adventure for me. I started my virtual paralegal business back in 2008, and, as with any new business, it took a while to build it up. Now that I’m established, attorneys seek me out. The biggest perk – I get to choose the attorneys I work with. I don’t have to accept a client that I don’t feel comfortable working with – there is such power in that!
I feel tremendous empowerment in many other ways, too. I’ve become more creative and more outspoken. I never would have considered writing a blog five years ago, and now I have discovered a voice that I never had before. Working in law firms, I was a drone. I wasn’t comfortable speaking up, afraid that I would say the wrong thing and it might cost me my job. I never would have thought to publicly say things that I now post about freely. No more office politics for me!
How can a paralegal business owner get established?
Reach out to everyone you have crossed paths with in your career – vendors, service providers, attorneys, and anyone else who might be familiar with your work – and let them know about your new business. Develop a compelling LinkedIn profile – this can be your best “calling card” and it is a great way for people to find you. You might also consider writing a blog, as I do (Pamela The Paralegal), and creating a Facebook business page. With so much of ‘you’ in social media, remember that you are always “on”. Keep your public persona professional because the world has just become your potential client.
What advice do you have for paralegals who want to thrive in today’s marketplace?
You need to strategize and rethink how you can be successful outside of a traditional “brick and mortar” office. You have to put a spin on everything you already know, and learn how to use it in a different and evolving marketplace. In my Sessions with a Starr program, I work with people to help them to learn to be creative and find their entrepreneurial self, to develop their “virtual persona”, and really see themselves as independent business owners.
Are you looking for an opportunity to have your own legal services business and use your paralegal skills in a more independent and fulfilling way? Visit the Divorce With Dignity Network website to learn how you can enjoy the freedom and flexibility that comes with owning your own paralegal business, while also helping people achieve a peaceful, cost-effective divorce in a holistically supported way.