Working as a paralegal is a great way to break into the legal industry. Now that remote work has become more common, you have the option of starting work as a virtual paralegal, giving you more flexibility than ever before.
Virtual paralegals, also called contract or freelance paralegals, perform administrative legal work remotely. As more law offices embrace digital tools, it’s becoming a more common way to approach the field, and it can be a rewarding experience.
If you’re looking into becoming a virtual paralegal, here are some things you should know.
What are the benefits of being a virtual paralegal?
The first thing you’ll want to know when starting work as a virtual paralegal is the benefits. One of the biggest advantages is flexibility. As a virtual paralegal, you can set your own hours and work from wherever you want. More than three-quarters of remote and hybrid workers say this has improved their work-life balance, and 47% say it’s improved their wellbeing.
You can also enjoy more variety than a conventional, in-person paralegal. As a freelancer, you’ll work for various firms, giving you experience across multiple work environments and even different areas of the law. This can help keep the work engaging and expand your future career options.
In many cases, you’ll have at least some control over your pay rates, too. This could help you earn a little more for what you do.
What are the downsides?
Of course, like any profession, working as a virtual paralegal comes with some downsides, too. Perhaps the most significant is the instability. Since you’ll have to find contract work with various firms, it can be difficult to earn a consistent paycheck. Your earnings will likely fluctuate, which can be stressful.
Similarly, you won’t have the extra financial benefits of working as a full-time employee like paid holidays or bonuses. You’ll also have more responsibility over your own taxes and expenses. As more people try to break into the industry, you could face competition from other virtual paralegals as well.
What do you need to get started?
Starting work as a virtual paralegal is similar to beginning a full-time paralegal career. Like any other paralegal, you’ll need to gain the proper education and certification. What this looks like in specificity will vary depending on your location and future goals.
There are a few unique considerations to keep in mind, too. It helps to have a dedicated office space, even when you’re working from home. You could try reorganising your garage to create a home office or look for nearby co-working spaces.
You’ll also need a fast, reliable internet connection, as any disruptions or lag could get in the way of your work. Since you’ll be competing with other paralegals for contracts, you may want to create an organised portfolio and website to impress potential clients.
Tips to excel as a virtual paralegal
A few practises can set you apart as a competitive virtual paralegal. Try to gain as much experience as possible during your education or while starting as a virtual paralegal. That may require you to take some low-paying or volunteer positions, but the more work you have to show, the more impressive you’ll be to clients.
It’s also important to remember that working from home doesn’t excuse you from professionalism. Remember to dress up for remote interviews and video calls with clients. Pay attention to what’s behind you on-screen, too.
The virtual paralegal space is competitive, so go into it with an ambitious spirit. Look for ways to connect and network with others in the industry, whether that’s joining social media groups or attending in-person events. The more you can network, the easier it’ll be to find work.
Starting work as a virtual paralegal can be rewarding
Starting work as a virtual paralegal can be intimidating, but it’s worth it if you can approach its challenges head-on. If you know what to expect, you can adapt to make the most of this path, leading to a long, successful career. If you think being a virtual paralegal might be a good fit for you, keep these considerations in mind and pursue it with confidence.