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Can You Afford to Hire Staff for Your Law Firm?

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

Solo practice can be a lonely existence. When you first hang a shingle, you’re probably the only person in your office, (if you have an office at all).

When business picks up, you may find yourself overwhelmed. Suddenly, delegating tasks seems like a good idea.

Previously, we discussed factors to consider when weighing the benefits of hiring a full-time or contract paralegal: specifically, the amount and type of work, and your long-term plans. But there’s also the financial factor.

Can you afford to hire staff for your law firm? That depends on what kind of employee you want to hire, and what level of experience you require.

Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing agency, offers some perspective in its 2013 Salary Guide. At a small firm, which is defined as a firm with up to 10 lawyers, here's what you can expect to pay:

  • Senior Paralegal (7+ years' experience): $46,750 - $60,500
  • Midlevel Paralegal (4-6 years' experience): $40,250 - $55,000
  • Junior Paralegal (2-3 years' experience): $34,500 - $41,750
  • Case Clerk/Assistant (0-2 years' experience): $28,250 - $33,000

A legal secretary's salary is slightly less.

  • Senior/Executive Secretary (12+ years' experience): $44,000 - $56,750
  • Midlevel Legal Secretary (7-11 years' experience): $42,250 - $53,500
  • Legal Secretary (3-6 years' experience): $36,250 - $47,000
  • Junior Legal Secretary (1-2 years' experience): $30,250 - $38,000

Keep in mind, the cheapest worker isn't necessarily the best choice. If you hire a case clerk or a secretary with little-to-no experience, you will have to spend more of your own time training your new employee. It's fine to take a chance on an unknown worker -- everyone has to start somewhere, after all -- but you might want a more extensive interview process for candidates who lack comparable work experience.

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