A law student paralegal can be a valuable addition to your legal team. As well as injecting some youth and enthusiasm into the team, you have an immediate cost-effective “go to” person for a variety of daily tasks that take some of the burden off more senior legal staff. You are also contributing to the future of the legal profession by training up “lawyers to be” and giving them valuable experience in the workplace - how’s that for feel-good factor?
Paralegal law students are generally available to work 1-2 days per week and can carry out a wide range of legal tasks within organisations and operate as support personnel for supervising lawyers. In Australia, paralegals must be paid at award rate at a minimum and this varies depending on factors such as age, experience and whether they are part time or casual.
What can a Crowd Paralegal do for you?
Tasks you might delegate to paralegals include:
- being first point of contact for interaction over the phone to understand client concerns
- proofreading documents
- drafting letters to clients
- recording file notes to detail matters for solicitor review
- drafting affidavits and other court documentation
- managing files
- compiling briefs
- designing, optimising and maintaining databases which contain client details and electronic records (remember, the current generation comes tech-savvy!)
- conducting research on various topics relating to the work at hand (eg. statutory interpretation, case-finding and drafting case summaries)
Paralegals can manage a broad on-going list of tasks of varying importance, including general support for office functions. You’ll get the most out of your paralegal if the scope of their employ is multifaceted, giving them both a practical and interesting entrée to the legal profession--all while making your life easier!
Looking at vacation clerks? Think Crowd Paralegal.
Paralegals and vacation clerks are generally both legally-trained, entitled to provide ancillary support but not legal advice. While a vacation clerk is typically on board for the holidays, why not think about them also sticking around during the university year? They’ll become more efficient over time and ultimately contribute more value to your business.
Advantages of employing a paralegal law student
There are a variety of advantages in having a paralegal law student as part of your legal team. Firstly, you have someone who can help with pulling together the bits and pieces of groundwork that legal teams often struggle to get to; research for writing articles, fixing up databases, organising files etc. They’re a cost effective way of increasing efficiency for a legal team.
As well as the obvious workflow benefits you also get a chance to effectively “trial” a potential candidate for a later graduate position. Having a student who gets to know your business very well can lead to a full time employment position when they graduate that requires little or no additional training.
And, it’s great marketing! Employing students is great narrative as part of your business’s story as well as having word of mouth marketing from the students themselves to assist with attracting good staff. It’s a relatively small industry and word gets around fast as to who are the good employers.
Some practical considerations in employing paralegal law students
1. They’re students so you’ll need to be flexible around their timetables.
Most students have a set semester timetable so can commit to regular times each week. However, their timetable may change each semester and they may also need time off around exams. Conversely this means they will often have extra time available during university holidays. This just needs to be factored in around work load and can easily be catered for with a bit of planning and the expectation of some flexibility.
2. Supervision is required
While most law students I’ve worked with have been great self starters, they do need both a list of things to do and someone who will oversee their work. Before you bring a law student into your workplace your team should be clear on what they’re doing and have someone prepared to manage this; a great job for one of your lawyers or associates.
3. Be in it for the long haul
Like all employees, it will take two to three months for the student to be trained up and become really part of the team without constant questions and close supervision. Consider this an investment; the longer they stick around, the more value they will add to the business. Ideally think of having a paralegal law student in your business for at least year to get true value from the experience.
To access the paralegal crowd in New South Wales and Victoria, please register on the Crowd & Co marketplace here and tick the box “I need a lawyer”. If you’re already registered, login and head to your job centre to post a paralegal job.