Bankruptcy Law is not known as the most lucrative practice area. So, what are the options for increasing profitability?
The most obvious approach, as in any business, is to manage a balance between increasing production (caseload) and decreasing expenses. But an increase in caseload will, in turn, increase associated expenses such as staff and overhead. And which expenses could you possibly decrease: staff, benefits, rent, utilities, supplies, subscriptions to legal publications?
You have to streamline processes to lower costs while still providing the same level of service to the client and complying with due diligence requirements.
Utilizing the services of a remote bankruptcy paralegal presents the solution for increasing profitability. You immediately expand your team’s ability to handle more cases and clients. You manage costs for paying only for the services you need – no overhead or human resource costs.
Why did you go to law school? Most likely not to spend the better part of your day training staff or watching over them to make sure their work is correct. Every hour you spend managing staff dilutes the hourly rate you should be earning practicing law.
A great paralegal is a valuable asset to your practice. If you can afford to hire one who is highly-skilled, you should have no worries. If you have to be a bit thrifty and hire someone closer to entry-level, you have a training and hope-they-work-out period ahead of you. We could be talking months to a year or more.
Another Option for Accurate Petitions
I am the ‘highly-skilled paralegal’ who can be your only paralegal or work with your current paralegal(s). You don’t need to hire or train me. You can contract my services on an as-needed basis.
You can count on accurate petitions. I have worked with over 20 different attorneys in more than 25 different states and districts. I understand the bankruptcy law at the federal level and also how to review and apply local rules.
It is well known that the best marketing approach for any business is word-of-mouth and referrals. We have always relied on friends, family, and co-workers to tell us about good movies, restaurants, and vacation spots.
Word-of-mouth and referrals evolved in 1999 with the inception of online reviews. For the legal industry, this meant that not only could lawyers craft their own profile using online lawyer directories, but clients now had the ability to post their opinion of their lawyer.
I believe that good lawyers always want to do all they can to get successful results for their clients. Unfortunately, misunderstandings or missed expectations can happen along the way. The client may feel they did not have a good experience and, not only will they not make a referral, they may post a negative review.
Consumers facing the prospect of bankruptcy are already experiencing high stress. When they choose a lawyer, their expectation is that they now have someone who will guide them through the process and help them keep the ‘wolves at bay.’
Disappointment comes when clients perceive that communications were lacking, their questions were not answered, time passed with no activity, the case was not filed right away, the ‘wolves’ were still harassing them, etc. These are perceptions, but they are the client’s experience and it will form their opinion.
Turn client disappointment into client success and, ultimately, good reviews! There are options from improving communications, adding paralegal support, and adopting new intake processes. Reach out to us for a conversation about how we can help!
Initial contact with a client begins the client’s experience and lays the foundation for client success. Clients run the gamut from feeling like they are lucky you are their lawyer to believing they are your only or most important client. The intake interview helps to set reasonable expectations.
All of the lawyers I work with have their own approach to client intake. After the initial conversation with the client, some will complete the interview process themselves and collect all documents (or have their in-house team handle this).
Another approach is that, after the initial interview, the lawyer gives the client my name and explains my role as a remote paralegal. Then, the client file is securely shared with me and I work with the client to follow-up on questions and document requests.
My goal is to match the lawyer’s approach to working with his client and provide an excellent environment for the client.
Successful Client Communication
In the same way that an excellent surgeon’s reputation can be diminished by a poor bedside manner, excellent attorneys may be perplexed to see bad online reviews citing “communication” issues. It’s based on perceptions and expectations of your clients which are not always easy to guess or anticipate.
You might be heads-down working on the case, but it’s invisible to the client. From their perspective, they are just not hearing from you.
And, believe it or not, some clients are intimidated by lawyers in general, even if their own lawyer is super-nice. They tend to feel like they are on equal ground with a paralegal. I have had many clients say to me, “I’m so glad you called, I wanted to ask you something I was afraid to ask the lawyer.”
When I am working on your cases, if you have pre-approved me to communicate with the client, I am available for the clients … I answer my phone, reply to emails, and reach out for any needed information. My goal is to be an extension of your law practice, help to set reasonable expectations with the client, and meet those expectations.
Accurate Petition Preparation
Bankruptcy software is a necessary tool for preparing the forms. There are many good software programs on the market with features that help to manage a case from intake to discharge.
But, from a preparation standpoint, there is a difference between knowing how to enter data in the software and understanding the data, how it affects other schedules, and its overall impact on the case. This highlights the benefits of a highly-skilled paralegal over a bankruptcy petition preparer (who may not understand bankruptcy law).
As an experienced and skilled bankruptcy paralegal, I can work with any of the bankruptcy software programs. And, I understand the client’s case information. I know how to call out potential issues and can follow-up with the client for clarification. I can prepare the case from any intake method the attorney prefers (if there is no preference, I like to suggest our subject-based interview worksheets).
When I feel the case is ready for attorney review, I include a summary of how particular information was treated or entered on the forms. This helps the attorney decide if the case is ready for the client to sign and is also a quick reference at a 341 meeting or in discussions with the trustee.
When the documents are signed, the certificate of counseling is obtained, and any required documents are in PDF format and ready to go, the case is ready for filing. Some lawyers I work with prefer to do their own filing (or have their staff file), others ask me to do the filing.
I am not licensed to practice law nor authorized to give legal advice. The content on this website including, but not limited to, pages, blog posts, comments, FAQs, and videos, is intended as a resource for those in the legal profession who are trained in the preparation of bankruptcy filings. None of the content should be construed as legal advice.
If you are seeking legal advice, please contact an attorney or law firm.