Whether you're thinking about hiring a virtual paralegal or thinking about becoming one, it's a common question to wonder about virtual paralegal rates.
Paralegals are a cornerstone of the modern law office. They help to handle a lot of jobs and tasks for a busy attorney and often can even streamline the entire company. But if you can't find someone in your local area or want to consider partnering with the best talent, a virtual paralegal might be the best option.
If you are a paralegal and prefer to work from home, you might be curious about whether or not virtual paralegal rates might be different from in-office rates.
The most recent study of paralegal rates and salaries was conducted in 2016. This survey found that only around 3 percent of paralegals considered themselves business owners or freelancers.
The average annual income for all paralegals across that year was just over $61,000. Most freelance paralegals consider a number of factors in setting their rates as a virtual paralegal.
Virtual paralegal rates will, for example, factor in how long that person has worked as a paralegal. If you have experience in a particular field with advanced training or certifications, this information will also be facted in to the hourly rate.
Freelance paralegals working virtually typically charge between $22 and $45 per hour, with those who have more experience charging at the upper end of that basis.
When working as a virtual paralegal, you should be careful to partner with those attorneys who recognize your expertise and pay accordingly. Blocking out all your available hours with those who pay low hourly rates means that you're not able to take on more lucrative clients if you signed a long contract with the first clients.
Some virtual paralegal freelancers choose to work on a retainer or project basis, giving the client an upfront cost suggestion and billing from there. This can be a challenge for those new to working as a paralegal, however, since the requirements for each client might vary until you have a firm working knowledge of the clients you do have.
Virtual paralegals offer many benefits to the clients who hire them. For attorneys in rural areas, for example, that lawyer still has the opportunity to work with an experienced professional. Since paralegals don't have to comply with the same jurisdictional limits as attorneys, a lawyer with a federal access can more easily leverage the skills of a virtual paralegal.
When setting your own virtual paralegal rates, remember that you're working as an independent contractor. This means you'll have to pay for your own benefits and also cover your tax payments.
It might seem tempting to kick off your business with an affordable hourly rate so that you can bring on your first couple of clients as a virtual paralegal, this can set you up to not receive a liveable hourly wage as you grow your company. It can be much harder to go back after the fact to talk to your clients about setting up a rate increase.
Do some calculations first about what you should be charging hourly in order to receive a fair wage and consider the extra costs you incur as an independent contractor.