Paralegal

Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

If you've always wanted to be a lawyer, then this could be the business for you. As a paralegal, you can't give legal advice or defend anybody in a murder trial, but you can complete simple documents and forms for individuals and attorneys, then take those papers down to the courthouse and file them. You'll help lawyers with small practices by taking over the work that would be done by legions of assistants in a large law firm, and you'll lend aid to individuals with matters like evictions and simple divorces so they don't have to pay those high attorneys' fees. The advantages to this business are that you get the charge of life in the law lane without the slavish hours you'd find in a corporate firm, and you have the satisfaction of helping your clients through the maze of the legal system. You'll need a strong background in all matters paralegal; good communication skills; and excellent grammatical, punctuation and spelling abilities--no judge (or client) is going to be impressed by a mistake-riddled document. In addition, you should have terrific organizational skills and be a good time manager so you can pump out those documents in plenty of time for court dates and filings.

The Market

Your clients can be individuals and attorneys with small firms in need of assistance. Your best bet for getting business from legal eagles is to send sales letters and brochures, then follow up with phone calls. Join local legal associations and network in professional and civic groups. To attract private clients, place ads in the Yellow Pages and local newspapers and get yourself written up in your local newspaper.

Needed Equipment

In some states, you'll need a paralegal certificate or liability insurance--check with your local business licensing agency or department of corporations to find out. You'll need a computer with a laser printer, a fax machine, the usual suite software and special software for completing routine documents like wills, evictions and divorces.

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