25 Feb Legal Rebels: Innovators in the Legal Profession
In 2009, our Country was dealing with the effects of a recession, the unemployment rate was at 9% and the legal industry was suffering as well. Despite the difficult economic conditions, the American Bar Association (ABA) Journal pointed out, “In these times of great economic chaos lies great opportunity.” As a result of the recession, the legal profession underwent a time of structural changes and breakthroughs driven by many lawyers nationwide. To recognize some of those pioneers reshaping the legal industry, the ABA launched its Legal Rebels program. I was honored to be recognized as one of the first seven Legal Rebels, and of those, the only paralegal.
ABA Legal Rebels Program
The ABA’s Legal Rebels program recognizes legal professionals who are implementing change and innovation in the legal profession. Whether it is a new way to practice law, train incoming professionals, improve client communications or billing methods, or analyze ways to increase value of legal services, the program is all about looking at current processes and recognizing new, fresh and effective ways to practice law.
In 2009, I was recognized for launching a virtual paralegal services company that I formed in January 2006.
Shaking Up Paralegal Work
For me, leveraging then recent technological advancements within the legal industry made perfect sense. In 2005, technological advances in software, the internet and search engines led many lawyers to leave mid-size and large law firms to pioneer the “outside general counsel” model. These innovators offered their valuable experience and services to companies at a fraction of the cost of “big law”. It seemed to me that these pioneers could reduce the costs of delivering their legal services as low as possible with access to expert paralegal support.
So, why not launch a paralegal assistance model that would connect these forerunners with, not just any paralegal support, but expert “big law” paralegal services – and offer those services nationwide? Conversations with some local Boston attorneys, who enthusiastically became my first clients, served to fuel my vision. For a company name, I struggled with common terms of the times such as, freelance paralegal, contract paralegal … But my model would be mainly online – virtual, in fact.
In late 2005, the term “virtual paralegal” didn’t only shake up the legal world; it shook up Google. When I submitted “virtual paralegal” in Google, it returned all sorts of gobbledygook. Google may not have understood what I was going for, but those trail-blazing lawyers sure did! In 2006, our annual revenues were $40,000. At the end of 2008, our annual revenues reached $480,000. In 2009, I was stunned when the ABA Journal recognized me as a maverick in the legal industry for creating a business model that supported the new way of delivering cost-effective legal services.
Today, the term virtual paralegal is as common to Google as Kleenex™ is to tissue and our business is considered to be part of a large group called “Alternative Legal Service Providers” (ALSPs). And, I remain, privileged and honored to be recognized by the ABA Journal as a legal innovator and to claim the spot of being one of the first Legal Rebels.
Benefits of Outsourcing 2.0
Since 2009, technological advances have continued to advance, making online collaboration even easier and cheaper than it was when I pioneered the virtual paralegal space. In 2018, I founded Velawcity Legal Support Services to offer more enhanced and cost-effective legal support services. I think of it as virtual paralegal services 2.0.
- Continuity – Velawcity clients are assigned one paralegal to manage your account, capture your institutional knowledge and lead all of your projects, which increases efficiency and value. Our experience allows us to hit the ground running and reduces the need for training. Our work product is always consistent with your firm’s or company’s look and feel. And, your satisfaction is always guaranteed.
- Expertise – Velawcity is your trusted partner. Velawcity paralegals are senior paralegals with over 10 years’ experience working in law firms or corporations with specialties ranging from all things corporate, including entity formation, compliance and management to M&A and other transactions, secured lending, securities, contracts, and litigation.
- Cost-Effective – Everything Velawcity does and every method Velawcity uses aims to increase your revenues, decrease your costs and ultimately Rescue Your Bottom Line. In addition to staffing seasoned, top-notch paralegals, Velawcity has a proprietary database of forms and filing methods that increase efficiency and reduce costs, and further adds value to our clients by using alternative methods to file and retrieve documents in all 50 states, which saves up to 50% of the cost of using larger service companies, all while delivering impressive turnaround times and communication.
As the legal profession continues to evolve, Legal Rebels will continue to emerge to the benefit of the entire legal profession. I am incredibly honored to be recognized among a growing group of courageous, forward-thinking legal professionals. This week I am excited to meet many of them at the upcoming Rebels Riot Luncheon during the ABA TECHSHOW 2020! I can’t wait to hear the stories of how others have shaken up the industry with their rebellious and innovative legal ideas!
Written by Denise Annunciata,
President of Velawcity Legal Support Services