In this week’s edition of Things I Wish I Knew, New York family lawyer Joleena Louis shares how she has grown her practice with the help of contractors.
One of the things I’ve struggled most with over the past few years is deciding if I wanted to hire an associate or not. As my business and caseload has grown, I’ve needed more help, but I hesitated to commit to being responsible for payroll.
To solve my problems I’ve turned to contractors. Initially, I thought of it as a temporary solution until I was “ready” to hire an associate, but it has been working so well that I think I am going to adjust my business model to an entirely virtual practice with contract employees. The COVID-19 crisis has certainly solidified my decision; while my colleagues have had to cut salaries and lay employees off, I simply stopped using contractor services that I don’t need at the moment.
You can use contractors for almost any position you need to be filled, especially if you have a virtual practice. I use a virtual receptionist service to answer my phone, help set up appointments, and do outbound calls for me. I use a virtual paralegal on a contract basis for basic legal drafting and case management. They can do initial intake and prepare documents for uncontested divorces, walk my clients through completing the Statement of Net Worth, or anything else you’d need a paralegal to do. I use per diem attorneys for court appearances and contract attorneys for drafting complex motions and briefs. For everything else, I delegate to a virtual assistant.
Contractors are essentially business owners and, the ones I hire, take their work and reputation very seriously. Ideally, you will find people you trust that you can work with for years, but it’s great to have the ability to easily end the contract when things don’t work out.
Some of the benefits for me have been:
- They are often cheaper than an hourly employee
- You only pay them when they work and you don’t have to commit to a certain number of weekly hours
- You can use multiple contractors and find the right person for the specific task
- You don’t need to find office space for them
- It’s an easy and effective way to outsource without the burden of payroll
The biggest pro for me is the flexibility of payment. I don’t have a set payroll to make every month, I can use contractor services more or less based on the flow of my business and only pay for the work I need.
I’ve had the most success finding contractors on Upwork.com and Indeed.com. Start with some simple tasks you need to get off your plate and hire a contractor to handle them. Set a budget and give it two weeks. If you decide it’s not a good fit, it’s easy to walk away.
So if you are looking for a quick and inexpensive way to expand your practice, consider the ways a contract employee could help.