Mar 9, 2012

Why Hire A Paralegal When You Can Hire An Attorney For The Same Money?

     Law firms representing Social Security disability claimants frequently use paralegals and legal assistants to help their attorneys represent more clients. Lee Rosen, an NC attorney who practices family law, raises a issue that may extend to Social Security practice:
Over my 25 years of practicing law, I’ve seen the economy change quite a bit. The biggest impact in my little world has been the price of associates [that is, non-partner attorneys]. Over the years, it has come steadily down to the point where we can now pay an associate very, very little money.
That has an impact on the mix of employees in a law firm. I’d advocate that you stop hiring paralegals and replace them with lawyers.
      The current glut of young attorneys may not last a long time but if it does a lot of things are going to change in the legal profession.


Anonymous said...

My ODAR office already does this.

We are hiring lawyers to be legal assistants which pays GS 5/8.

All of our writers are lawyers as well, which pays 9/11/12.

Ten years ago, most of these positions would have been filled by non-lawyers.

The fact is, the market is flooded with lawyers who can't find jobs. I blame Hollywood for glorifying being a lawyer.

Anonymous said...

Wanna talk to the lawyer in charge or the paralegal who knows what's going on? ;)

Anonymous said...

The glut of lawyers will continue. The law schools make a lot of $$$ for universities. Just google the subject and you will find lots of articles and blogs. For some reason, there are still plenty of applicants for law school.

At our firm, we have a number of lawyers in "paralegal" positions. We no longer worry about them being "over-qualified" or that they will leave for a better position. Frankly, in our area, there are very few better positions. Whenever we put an ad on Craigslist, we specify the relatively meager wages that are paid but, nevertheless, we get resumes from very qualified lawyers - and not just the bottom of the class. We also get resumes from experienced lawyers.

It's a great time to own a law firm but a bad time to be an unemployed lawyer or paralegal.

Anonymous said...

A concern I would have in hiring a lawyer for a paralegal position is the risk of the lawyer running off with clients when they want to go out on their own. This is something you wouldn't have to worry about or protect against with a paralegal.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:11, you make a good point. However, two conditions make it less of a worry for a Social Security firm:

1.) Social Security is a "volume" practice and most lawyers are handling so many claims that the really don't have time to develop the personal relationship with clients which would induce the client to leave the firm.

2.) "Going our on their own" is easier said than done in the current economic environment. While it is true that most of the overhead of a new law firm is relatively small, the cost of advertising is prohibitive.

A number of lawyers have left our firm in the last 30 years and, to my memory, we lost only one client as a result.