After working in large law firms, some paralegals go out on their own. How do they make this leap successfully?
Geneviève Forget is a senior paralegal with a solid track record, but she does not work for any law firm, either large or small. Two years ago, she decided instead to start her own business, Corpo Juri-Forget.
It was a bold and unusual choice, the principal admits. “It’s true that there are not many paralegals who work for themselves. First of all, it has to be understood that jobs within firms pay very well, so we have to accept a certain reduction in salary. Then, we cannot offer our services directly to the public, but only to lawyers. They are our clients. So I work for law firms or in corporate litigation.”
When Geneviève Forget decided to make the leap, her goal was to approach the beneficiaries of her services. “In firms, our only contact with the mandate is the lawyer. Files are linked together and we do not see the fruit of our work. Now that I am out on my own, I am much closer to the people for whom the work is done. For example, some lawyers send me directly to their client.”
It’s to this direct contact with others, both clients and the beneficiaries of legal services, that she now attributes her success. “I always take the time to deliver the documents in person. It lets me ask questions, to understand how the firm functions. It keeps me up to date in my practice and helps establish the bond of trust.”
Geneviève Forget offers her services to small firms who need occasional help as well as to large firms who want to “subcontract” part of their work to reduce costs.
And there is plenty of demand. After just two years in business, Geneviève Forget has already hired three paralegal employees who help her out with her files.
A flexible schedule, but lots of work
In addition to contact with customers, the second reason that drove Geneviève Forget to go out on her own was regaining control of her schedule and having more time for herself and her family. Did she succeed?
“Yes and no…,” she answers frankly. “In terms of workload, I have to say that it is still quite high. Sometimes I work in the evening or weekends. But I am free to manage my schedule. I can take an afternoon off during the week to have my car repaired or go the doctor, without having to ask anyone for permission!”