Millie Tiffany is the owner of Paralegal Specialists, LLC. She was a litigation paralegal and case manager for a small law firm in beautiful Northeastern Pennsylvania for 22 years before venturing into the freelance/virtual world.
She has a certificate in Paralegal Studies from Penn State University and also attended Wilkes-Barre Business College. In addition to her paralegal work, Millie is a hiking enthusiast, a long time yoga practitioner, nature lover and Kahlil Gibran devote.
In this article, Millie provides some insight into the thought that must go into the establishment of a freelance/virtual paralegal business.
FINDING YOUR NICHE AS A FREELANCE PARALEGAL:
With 22 years of experience as a litigation paralegal specializing in Plaintiff Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Wrongful Death and Survival Actions, Estate Administration and complex PA Family Law, I had a many options available.
I analyzed the situation as I would any case laid before me. My strengths: writing expertise, analytical skills, effective and articulate communicator, people-person. My passions: writing creatively and making a difference in people’s lives.
I loved closing the door of my office and getting immersed in the creation of a personal injury demand package. I elicited from the client those losses that don’t show up in medical records. By the time an adjuster or opposing counsel finished reading my Recapitulation, Arbitration or Mediation Memorandum, he knew our client intimately and clearly understood the losses sustained, including the emotional impact on the client and spouse – for my skill is in humanizing the client while still producing a professional legal presentation.
I also put my creative writing skills to work in my Family Law specialization. An Emergency Petition for Custody clearly explained our client’s frustration. A Pre-Trial Statement included a section on how each Alimony and Equitable Distribution factor related to the circumstances of the case, which, although not required under PA Rules of Civil Procedure, tends to impress the Master. A Petition for Special Relief was another opportunity to embellish a bit to get across to the judge the cold reality of the situation. My settlement proposals were known to bring difficult cases to completion, as my asset distribution and allocation of alimony are fashioned to appeal to both parties (if not totally satisfy either!).
In all of these situations, I was not only fulfilling my passion for creative writing, but also making a difference for people going through painful, life-altering situations, whether by obtaining a substantial settlement for someone whose life had been damaged through the fault of another, bringing a difficult divorce to conclusion, fashioning a custody schedule that was in the best interest of the child or simply calming clients and assisting them through the process. It is not necessary to work as a social worker to have a positive impact and make the world a better, kinder place in which to live.
I finally decided to concentrate on helping attorneys to maximize the value of their client’s personal injury, medical malpractice or wrongful death and survival action claim through my creation of all-inclusive settlement demand packages. As I also thrive on all of the particular nuances of Family Law, I am providing complete support in that area as well. I am following my bliss!
To anyone contemplating entering the very demanding world of a freelance paralegal, I would suggest: To anyone contemplating entering the very demanding world of a freelance paralegal, I would suggest:
1. FOLLOW YOUR BLISS: Think long and hard about the area of law that you find most stimulating and the assignments that you most enjoy. Do you thrive on the pressure-filled environment of trial? Do you like the routine of document completion? This is YOUR business and you are now the decision-maker. Take advantage of that position and do what makes you happy.
2. RESEARCH THE MARKET: Are there attorneys not only interested in the services that you intend to provide, but also willing to pay for them? Is the market already saturated with freelance paralegals offering the same services?
3. MAKE SURE YOU CAN DELIVER: Even if there is an overwhelming need for the service that you wish to provide and you absolutely LOVE doing that kind of work, if you aren’t REALLY good at it, your business will most definitely not survive. There will be no word-of-mouth referrals and no repeat attorney-clients, for when an attorney hires a freelance paralegal, an exemplary work-product that requires no revisions is expected. Keep in mind that you will have no one to turn to with questions. You must have a superior grasp of the area of law in which you intend to specialize.