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What 'kind' of assistance would you be offering? Most para-legals work under an attorney much as a medical assistant works under a doctor.
I am not sure what kind of advice to offer, it sounds like you may be practicing law without a license, but that conclusion on my part is due to the content in your post.
More context would be helpful.
No I am not practicing law without a license. It is perfectly legal and extremely common for a paralegal to work on their own. I provide a document preparation service to the public. I provide wills, power of attorney forms, bankruptcy forms, divorce and many other legal documents. I am perfectly legal in doing so as long as I don't give legal advice to them. The people that come to me have already agreed on everything in their divorce or need bankruptcy forms prepared and already know what chapter they are filing.
Please forgive my lack of knowledge on the subject of practicing paralegals. How much contact have you had with the local bar associations, how about national board certified attorneys in your specialty?
The local bar association won't advertise for a paralegal. I have no problem getting work from attorneys it is the public I am trying to target. Attorneys are never thrilled about freelance paralegals because we take business from them. They would never advertise for a paralegal.
Since the town you are in is small, check on the cost of the local radio stations. You might be surprised by the cost. If the cost are low enough I would run a spot or two right after drive time that explains your services. It doesn't have to be dry, it can be interesting. I think if you take an educational tone about what a paralegal can offer, you might have some success. I understand that you cannot give legal advice but I am talking about a more informative format. Educate the public and you will gain the position of being the authority on the subject of paralegal - it will attract customers and improve your image.
You need to deal with the issue of a lack of understanding by the public as to what you do. You can do this through flyers or even host an event, and advertise that on radio. Or drive them to your website.
Hope this helps.
Msparalegal, What did you do before opening the business out of your house??
It must be very hard to get the general public to contact you.
Most paralegal's work for or get business from attorneys.
Think about a BUSINESS PLAN and a MARKETING PLAN
Re the Marketing Identify the services offered.
Identify the customers demand for your service.
(THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE AREA WHERE YOU ARE HAVING YOUR BIGGEST PROBLEM)
In your Bus plan, explain how your service will be advertised and marketed.
Also the pricing strategy.
Good luck, LUCKIEST
I was and am currently a paralegal for a federal agency. Freelance paralegals are extremely common the public just doesn't know alot about it. I receive overflow work from attorneys in my area and across the US. I work alot with attorneys doing veterans appeals which I end up taking most pro bono. I know that doesn't help business but that is a different issue. I have received some work from people who have seen my website. The problem I am having is advertising in my town. I live in a small town that is mostly a retirement community. The internet doesn't do alot of good when the majority of the town doesn't use the internet. I can do work in any state but it is just a matter of getting the word out. My pricing is extremely low compared to what they would pay an attorney. So my main question is how to advertise to the public besides the internet.
In a small town, it seems like fliers in some of the common places to visit (grocery, restaurants, court house, etc) should do the trick. Make sure your flier stands out (tag line that catches the eye and a bright color) but still looks professional.
For a bit higher of a price, you can get your flier distributed door to door. You might even want to do this yourself so that you can introduce yourself. It will take longer, but people will be more likely to trust you assuming you act trustworthy.
That is a good idea. Thanks
I would think if the people contacting you already know what they need to do, then they have done some small amount of research on their own to find out what forms need to be filed. Perhaps you could drop off some business cards at the county library, or whatever establishment in your area provides the free "do-it-yourself" legal forms. I would think that is where your target market is. And you may also consider placing an ad in the yellow pages for your local town & the surrounding large cities. Best of luck to you!
That was fast. 3 suggestions
Have important data on your home page
Make sure that the font size is significant
Hyperlink with relevant, creditable web sites
Good luck, LUCKIEST
Sorry I put this in the wrong spot
Just a thought but a way to provide exposure to your services may be to visit local company/corporation HR's or financial planners/investors and offer to give a free seminar on how to prepare for retirement, newly married (wills), parents (wills), etc on the type of legal paperwork that they may need. Many people don't think about it until they start to look at things like company benefits, life/medical insurance, soon-to-be retiring, etc. Then have promotional material available that tells them about the type of services you provide. In addition, you could continue to aprise the insurance/financial/HR gurus with a monthly (or quarterly) tips e-newsletter as a way of staying in touch.
Just food for thought.
Have you thought about contacting some private process servers in your area and letting them know your expertise? I would contact the process servers in your area that have a web site and talk with them about links or hiring your services through them.
Just a thought.
Another thought, in my city their is a Legal Secretaries Association and they publish a book every year with every Attorney in our city that elects to fill out the form and send it to them. They also have advertisment spots that you can purchase. When I worked in the law office, I made sure I had one of these books because it had all of the phone numbers, addresses, fax numbers, etc., it also had a list of the court clerks, their addresses and phone numbers to the courts, etc. along with a list of other legal support services that was always very useful.
Also a tip, the only people that I bill my services to are local attorneys, everyone else pays at the time I pick up the paper. Think about how you will collect for the work that you do.
Have a good day!!
Followig are my suggeston on your advertising ideas:
- I will join the local chamber of commerce and the day of our first meeting introduce all startup attendee about your work and pass on your card and flyer.
- Chamber has monthly meeting of all different type of groups. Initially attend all meeting and give them your card and info.
- Contact your local library manager and ask her that you want to provide 3 hour service free of cost ever month, so people can come and get half hour free advice.
- Join the women association in the city and explain your role.
That's a good idea but I can't give legal advice. That would be practicing law without a license. The other ideas I will give a try though.
With your budget in mind, I'd probably run a small ad in a couple of local newspapers under the "Services" section. Most papers now have a section for all kinds of things, including yard work, plumbing, etc. I'd put one under paralegal and list: wills, divorce forms, business forms, etc.. as much as you can squeeze in for the small fees the newspapers charge. This is not as expensive as the usual print ads. You can usually get it for a month at a reduced rate. Run if for several months and see. People looking for other services may need yours. I assume you're a notery. I'd advertise that, too. If someone uses you for that service, they may think of you down the road. Hang in there, it takes time.
Try composing a nice sales letter and posting it on Craigslist. It's free and can drum up a lot of business for you. If you live close to a large city, I recommend posting it on that city's website instead of your local one.
You can also register your business with yellowpages.com and the like so that people can find you.
Is it fair to conclude that your potential non-attorney clientele have no idea what a paralegal can and cannot do? If so, your success and survival may depend on educating people about everything that's on the PUBLIC page of your website.
One way to do that would be to look for opportunities to get in front of people with a simple 10-15 minute presentation titled, "Do You REALLY Need a Lawyer?" Contact anyone you can think of (community groups, retirement homes, churches, professional organizations, etc.) and offer to come give your brief talk for free. In it, you could provide specific examples of cases where people really didn't need an attorney, but rather your knowledge of what forms to use and how to file them. You could demonstrate how, in these cases, you saved them hundreds of dollars. (Even when they DO need an attorney, you probably save them some money by helping them know what to ask and what to expect.) Almost everyone in attendance at your talk would know someone who is going through the things you'd talk about, and they would pass your flyer or business card along. You could also contact local radio and TV news or talk show producers to see if they'd be interested in a similarly titled segment or feature -- potential free "air time" for you.
Hope this helps. Best of luck!
If the services you provide do not require in-person meetings, you can "advertise" though elance.com. It is a website that I go to to find people with special skills to do work. I also post projects and have people bid on them. You should check it out and see if there are other paralegals using it to advertise their services or to bid on jobs. It works best when you can work "virtually" ---- that opens a whole market to you beyond your immediate geography.
Coastal Classic Creations ran into the same problem when we first started; and, we actually sell our products at local farmers markets in order to advertise. We agree that the newspaper is pretty much a waste of time. We tried that as well, and most people don't read the ad, as well as it is very expensive. My wife was in law for 30 years, and one of the ideas we had was that you might want to go to the nearest large county seat in your area with your resume and business cards and hand them out. You might also consider asking the county clerk there if you could post your business card on a bulletin board.
Workers' compensation law was my wife's firm's specialty, and, in California, attorneys are moving more and more away from litigating these types of cases, turning medical review, etc., over to paralegals. You may want to consider targeting workers' compensation firms (particularly in California) as insurance companies much rather pay lower rates to a paralegal than to an attorney. The way you could do this is to go to the State Bar of your state or the State Bar of California website, find the names of workers' compensation firms (search by specialty), and send them a letter with your information. This reaches you to more people.
We live in a small town too; and, we joke a lot about our customers can use only so much soap, and how do we reach out. What we have learned is patience is its own reward. Good luck.
First, congratulations on starting your own business. That's very cool.
In the general scheme of things I think that there is confusion amongst the general public about what paralegals actually do.
Whoever told you that advertising in the newspaper is a waste - is for the most part right. It works great for bigger businesses that have a big enough budget and a big presence to keep advertising constantly - but not so much for small, home-based businesses.
Here are a couple things I see right off the bat:
Your bread and butter money - business that you can count on - on a steady basis - probably will come from other attorneys. They are in a position to give you repeat business from clients. So, they are known as "centers of influence" because they know what you do and can provide you with a steady stream. So you need to nurture those relationships to keep them sending you business.
The rest of your steady cash flow will come from regular folks who want to save money. You have to position yourself as a solution to a certain problem. Maybe you can do a myriad of different things with your skills - but if you try to present yourself as sort of a jack-of-all trades - in the specialized world that we live in - people will become confused. And Denise's Marketing Rule Number One is, "A confused mind always says 'no.'" So create a specialization. Of course once you've done something for a client and they are happy you can tell them - "Hey, I also do this and this." That's fine.
So, you have two very different niche markets - attorneys and regular folks.
I wish you great success with all of it.
All the best,
Author, "Testosterone-Free Marketing"
PS: Visit me online at http://www.MentoringwithDenise.com
When advertising your services, make sure your website, flyer, business cards and ads do not say "home-business". In your field, and any other field for that matter, the client wants and needs to feel they can trust you. If your advertising material looks thrown together, your potential clients will not take you seriously. Have a professional designer, design your advertising material for you. In my opinion, that is advertising dollars well spent. A professional design speaks volumes.
Best of Luck,
Unique Art Design
Hi - I met a self-employed court reporter at a holiday festival this evening and thought about your paralegal business. Was any of our input helpful? Have you made any progress? We'd love an update when you have one. Thanks!
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I opened a paralegal business out of my home a few months ago. I have received a few jobs from attorneys but hardly anything from the general public. I have a website but I don't know how else to advertise to the public. I sent flyers out to all the law firms around me and that helped some. I can't send flyers to everyone in the public. I can also help people in any state not just where I live. The town I live in is very small and mostly retired. I have talked to other business owners in this town and they said the newspaper was a waste. It doesn't cost alot to run the business but what expenses I do have aren't even being covered. I know there are alot of people who could benefit from using my services at half the price an attorney would charge. I need to find some way of advertising to the public or close the business down. At this point it won't even make enough money to pay the taxes on it. Any advice??