Delegating to Reduce Your Clients’ Costs


Delegating to Reduce Your Clients’ Costs

Are you struggling to reduce your clients’ costs? Depending on your area of practice, there may be some different strategies you can try implementing. There is one strategy that can work across the board, especially for litigators.

Efficiently delegating to your paralegal.

Legal Administrative Assistants and other support staff can also be included, but for now let’s focus on paralegals.

Depending on the firm structure and area of practice, paralegals either bill their time or they don’t. Either way, their billable rate is less than a lawyer’s rate so by delegating efficiently to a paralegal, the client’s cost can be significantly reduced.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right?

You probably already delegate to some extent, but have you wondered if you are doing it properly? This is often the part that is overlooked.

Lawyers often seem to take one of two approaches to delegating:

  1. Keeping the paralegal in the loop from the beginning so they know what is happening on the file, or
  2. Only including the paralegal when tasks need to be done, and keeping them out of the loop otherwise.

The first approach lets the paralegal know where things are at on a file and what tasks they need to do. Paralegals have advance notice on deadlines and can organize their schedules to better manage their time, making last-minute delegation an exception rather than the rule. As a result, they can manage their capacity better and take on more tasks to help out the lawyer. It provides an opportunity for the paralegal to diarize properly and stay on top of what is happening or what needs to happen on a file. This means not as much time needs to be invested by the lawyer on explaining things to the paralegal, or working on tasks that they could have delegated. It also means that the paralegal has time to do their best work and build their expertise, leading to less reviewing and revising being required by the lawyer. This approach leads to more efficient delegation and reduced client costs.

The second approach leads to less planning and a lot more last-minute delegation. By taking this approach, the lawyer often ends up having to do tasks that they could have otherwise delegated because the paralegal is already occupied, or they feel that it will be quicker if they do it themselves. Even if the paralegal is assigned the task, they will be more rushed, and require more review and revision from the lawyer. This can also lead to higher chances of mistakes and the need for amendments, in addition to the running risk of missed deadlines or additional time being spent on asking for extended deadlines. Instead of reducing the costs, this approach can potentially lead to additional costs, along with more pressure being put on the lawyer and paralegal.

So how can you implement the first approach?

Here are some strategies:

  • Including paralegals in all relevant emails from the point a file is opened.
  • Briefing paralegals after court related hearings/appearances.
  • Creating a master file list so everyone on the team knows the status on files.
  • Providing detailed instructions with deadlines when delegating tasks.
  • Developing precedents and templates to make delegating easier.

Overall, clear communication between the lawyer and paralegal is important for increased efficiency. Once an efficient system is created, it leads to more proactive opportunities for the paralegal and more opportunities for the lawyer to use their time wisely on tasks they cannot delegate.

Through efficient delegation, lawyers can increase their productivity on a client’s file while simultaneously reducing their costs.