How Safe Is Your Law Firm’s Cybersecurity?

Is Cybersecurity Limiting The Modern Law Firm?

How Safe Is Your Law Firm’s Cybersecurity?

In the digital age, cybersecurity is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity. This sentiment doubles for law firms, which are being bombarded by ransomware attacks, data breaches, and a litany of other data-related issues daily.

As cyber threats continue to get more sophisticated, the methods firms need to take to protect themselves grow more complex, time-intensive, and expensive. As if running a practice and protecting themselves on the digital front weren’t enough, lawyers nowadays must go through technology training simply to stay current with data security practices.

cybersecurity limiting

If that all sounds like a lot, it’s because it is, which begs the question: is cybersecurity limiting the modern law firm? This article will explain the host of obstacles with which modern law firms grapple to cover their digital bases, what security capabilities law firms should look for in third-party vendors, and how third-party providers such as Rapid Legal are stepping up to give them peace of mind.


The Complexity of Cybersecurity:


One of the biggest challenges law firms face when implementing robust cybersecurity measures is the cost. Cybersecurity solutions can be expensive, especially for smaller firms with limited budgets. A survey from the International Legal Technology Association found that firms were increasing their spending on cybersecurity and security assessment software by 40% and 44%, respectively.

This increase in spending is substantial for big law firms that have the millions of dollars and resources to afford cutting-edge cybersecurity, but smaller firms with limited funds can easily find themselves shelling out more significant portions of their budgets if they’re to have top-of-the-line cybersecurity. This reason is why small firms are the most vulnerable to cyberattacks.

The cost of implementing and maintaining these solutions, as well as training staff on how to use them effectively, can add up quickly. Moreover, these costs can limit the ability of law firms to invest in other areas of their business, such as hiring additional staff or upgrading their technology.



Employing cybersecurity measures, including training, is neither a simple nor an easy task. It requires technical expertise and knowledge that oftentimes requires law firms to get from an outside consultant. Law firms need to work with cybersecurity professionals to develop a plan that meets their unique needs and requirements, while small firms must sacrifice precious resources to protect themselves.

Regardless of the scope of the law firm’s needs, these security plans almost always require some sort of training for the legal staff. While this training is important to the overall data hygiene of the law firm, this process can be a time-consuming and complicated process that limits the productivity of legal professionals.

Technology training has become so commonplace in the legal industry that 75% of respondents in the 2022 Survey from the ABA reported having technology training at their firms. According to the survey, 100% of the firms with over 100 attorneys that responded to the survey had technology training available for their attorneys.

Interested in cybersecurity and other technology-related matters?

Check out this thought-provoking article:

Technology By Itself Does Not Make a 21st Century Law Firm

user error

User Error

One of the most critical weak points of any enterprise’s cybersecurity is user error. Even with strong cybersecurity measures in place, law firms are still vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks due to user error. Human error may seem like an anticlimactic or even silly source of error, but studies have shown it can be difficult to remedy as scams and phishing emails have become increasingly sophisticated.

These errors can include everything from employees falling for phishing scams to leaving their devices unlocked and unattended. While it is becoming an industry standard to train legal professionals to spot scams, human error will be a constant weak point so long as humans are using their devices.

While there are many different types of breaches and cybersecurity threats to be aware of, phishing is the most common. The 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigation report found that phishing was present in 36% of all breaches.

Even more daunting, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA,) found that 90% of all cyberattacks begin with phishing, Intel’s International Security Quiz found that a staggering 97% of email users cannot identify a phishing email.

Compliance and Regulations

Compliance and Regulations

Law firms also face other obstacles when implementing cybersecurity procedures, such as compliance requirements, regulatory changes, and evolving cybersecurity threats. Compliance requirements can be complex and time-consuming to follow, and failure to comply can result in costly fines and legal action.

Cybersecurity has also affected the California state’s legislation. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) are two of the most notable pieces of legislation affecting law firms.

The CCPA applies mostly to mid to large-sized firms as it applies to companies and for-profit firms that gross over $25 million, firms that sell the personal information of 100,000 or more California residents, or firms that derive 50% or more of their revenue from selling consumers’ personal data.

To be compliant with the CCPA, a law firm must implement certain measures, such as ensuring transparency in their data collection practices and providing customers with the right to access, delete, and opt out their personal information.

law firms

These businesses and law firms must also have clear privacy policies that outline their precise use of the customer’s data, as well as train employees to understand CCPA requirements and undergo regular audits and assessments.

The CPRA builds off the CCPA and imposes additional obligations to protect the privacy of personal information. Sometimes referred to as “CCPA 2.0,” CPRA shares the same revenue criteria as CCPA, although it is far stricter and more thorough in its auditing of a firm’s data collection, processing, and storage practices. Failure to comply with either act will result in costly penalties for the firms.

Regulatory changes can also impact the way law firms handle client data and require them to update their cybersecurity policies and procedures accordingly. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, which requires legal professionals to stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices.

Court Rulings and Liability

Court Rulings and Liability

Recent court rulings are making companies and law firms more liable for data security practices. In September 2022, the United States Third Circuit Court of Appeals remanded a putative class-action lawsuit against ExecuPharm, a pharmaceutical company that suffered a data leak due to a phishing scam.

What’s notable about this ruling is that the District Court had previously dismissed the case due to its speculative nature since the lead plaintiff’s information had not suffered any identity theft. Upon review of the case, the Appellate Court ruled that the plaintiff still had a substantial risk of imminent injury due to the intentional nature of the cyber-attack.

The case, which was sued under the Class Action Fairness Act for negligence, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and breach of confidence, also determined that intangible injuries such as having your data stolen and the emotional distress of having your data leaked are sufficient to file suit against a corporation. Now more than ever, companies and law firms are liable for the security of their client’s data.

Third-Party Risks

Third-Party Risks

Law firms often work with third-party vendors, such as eFiling service providers, court reporting services, and e-discovery providers, that may have access to sensitive data. If these providers have access to your firm’s system, their vulnerabilities can become yours.

Ensuring your third-party vendor has up-to-date security and is compliant is critical when choosing providers. For DLA Piper, who suffered a massive ransomware attack in 2017, their leak was caused by a compromised supplier.

Key considerations to verify when working with third-party vendors include:

  1. Data Encryption: Does the vendor encrypt data both in transit and at rest? Encryption ensures that if data is intercepted, it is unreadable.
  2. Compliance with Industry Standards: Does the vendor comply with all rules and regulations about data privacy and personally identifiable information (PII), cardholder data, and more?
  3. Regular Security Audits: Does the vendor conduct regular security audits to identify and mitigate potential security risks?
  4. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans: Does the vendor have disaster recovery and business continuity plans? These plans ensure that if there is a security breach or other disaster, your data is safe, and your business can continue operating.
  5. Access Controls: Does the vendor use strict access controls? This ensures that only authorized users have access to sensitive data.
  6. Redundancy: Does the vendor store their data in multiple data centers? Having their data stored in multiple data centers will ensure your data will be available and secure in the event one of those data centers is compromised.

hacker mind

How Bad Are Data Breaches, Really?

The recent high-profile data breaches have underscored the need for robust cybersecurity measures in the legal industry. For example, in 2016, a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, suffered a significant data breach, which led to the leak of 11.5 million confidential documents. The Panama Papers leak exposed the financial dealings of some of the world’s most powerful individuals and companies, resulting in significant reputational damage to the law firm.

Similarly, in 2017, DLA Piper, one of the largest law firms in the world, suffered a significant ransomware attack that affected their systems in the United States, Europe, and Asia. This cyber-attack was so severe that it required the firm to shut down its systems entirely.

Aside from the massive reputational blow data breaches deal, there’s also a crippling cost element that comes with a major data breach. A 2022 report by IBM and the Ponemon Institute calculated the average cost of a data breach to a US company to be a staggering $9.44 million. Suddenly the exorbitant cost of cybersecurity doesn’t seem so steep.

When it comes down to brass tacks, cybersecurity is indubitably a critical part of any law firm’s digital infrastructure. While staying current with cybersecurity regulations and technology is difficult and time-intensive, practicing good digital hygiene can save your law firm from a catastrophic data breach or malware attack.

Security and Compliance

Rapid Legal’s Portal Delivers Professional-Grade Security and Compliance

As a certified eFiling service provider with 35+ courts in California, including the largest court system in the nation, Los Angeles Superior Court, Rapid Legal’s litigation support service portal is used daily by thousands of legal professionals to file and serve their legal documents. That’s why it’s built with security in mind. We follow industry best practices to ensure the privacy and security of our client’s data.

Professional Grade Security and Compliance

  • Advanced Firewalls – military-grade data encryption
  • Rigorous registration and authorization protocols
  • Certified Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP)
  • PCI Compliant

Industry-Leading Technology Integrity

  • Amazon Web Services enabled
  • Highly automated, redundant, and scalable
  • On-Demand availability 24/7

Ultimately, cybersecurity is both a nuisance and a salvation for the modern law firm. One cannot overstate its importance to the security of a firm’s and its client’s data, however, the growing complexity of these practices, training employees, and staying current with industry-standard practices and compliances is a massive undertaking.

Perhaps the more critical issue is how sophisticated scams are becoming. It almost seems that the moment a breakthrough security innovation happens, a new malware or hacking program cancels it out. Thankfully, with blockchain technology, AI, and even quantum computing (which is on the far horizon,) law firms and their IT partners will be able to combat these malicious issues and hopefully solve them once and for all.

Do You Care About Cybersecurity? So Do We.

If you’re interested in a vendor that offers secure, reliable eFiling, court filing, or process serving, schedule a call or book a demo with a Rapid Legal team member today!

We also have an extensive resource library where you can find guides, checklists and other resources to help you eFile documents according to the local court rules in each county as well as what qualities to look for when selecting an eFiling service provider or process serving vendor.

Process Serving feature

Process Serving: Is Rushed Service Worth the Price?

Process Serving feature

In today’s fast-paced world, time is money. This is especially true in the legal industry where clients expect law firms to resolve their cases as quickly as possible but at a cost-effective price. As a result, litigation support services that promise supersonic process serving are often seen as paramount, but are rushed services worth the price you pay?

In this article, we’ll explore the true cost of rushed litigation support services and help you evaluate whether the urgency you think you need is worth the price you pay. We’ll also show you how reporting data can help you identify where you’ve been losing money on difficult serves or unnecessary on-demand services, and help you decide whether it’s really worth it.

A Need for Speed

A Need for Speed

Before we dive into the cost of speedy litigation support services, let’s first define what we mean by “speed.” In the legal industry, speed is typically measured by the time it takes to serve legal documents or the time it takes to complete a legal support task related to a case.

Litigation support services that promise faster turnaround times and more efficient processes are often more expensive than those that offer slower service levels.

Not Every Matter Is Urgent, And That’s Okay

However, not all legal cases require ultra-fast service. For example, a routine document retrieval task may not require expedited service, and choosing a slower service level could save you, and thus, your client, money. On the other hand, urgent matters such as restraining orders or emergency motions may demand immediacy requiring you to pay a premium for expedited service.

Different circumstances call for different levels of urgency, so it’s important to evaluate your needs and determine whether the exigency you think you need is worth its steeper price tag.

Do you think you know a good service of process provider when you see one?

Test your knowledge here:

What to Look for When Hiring a Process Serving Company.

To help you evaluate your options, we’ve included a table that shows how Rapid Legal’s service levels differ and what a law firm can expect to pay for each. This table can help you determine which Rapid Legal service level is right for your needs and budget.

Service Level Attempts Timeframe Cost*
Standard 1st attempt within 5 days $80
Priority 1st attempt within 1 day $110
Urgent Urgent (Same Day Attempt, if received by deadline $170
On-Demand Immediate processing** $245

*Prices are based on services up to 50 pages. For services over 50 pages, Rapid Legal charges a document set-up fee of $.50 per additional page.

** Attempt must be received by 1:00 PM PST within California and 10:00 AM PST outside California.

Please note: Services, prices and deadlines are accurate as of this posting. For the latest information, please visit our prices and deadlines page.

As you can see, the cost of litigation support services increases significantly as the attempt’s timeframe decreases. While faster service levels may be necessary for urgent legal matters, it’s important to evaluate whether the cost is worth it for routine tasks.

Things to Keep in Mind

It’s also important to understand that the level of service does not guarantee the process server will complete a process serving order on their first attempt.

While selecting a rush service means the process server will attempt to serve the legal documents sooner, a host of variables exist that can slow down service, from providing the case participant’s incorrect address to the defendant evading service entirely.

location tracking

However, on average, legal professionals should expect their litigation support service provider to complete a service of process order and deliver the proof of service back within a week.

In addition to evaluating your service level needs, you should also analyze your reporting data to identify where you’ve been losing money on difficult serves or unnecessary on-demand services.

Rapid Legal conducts Quarterly Business Reviews with our clients to share service of process success rates, proof of service turnaround times, and other insightful user and order data to help you manage the productivity of your staff as well as the performance of our services.

data report

While speedy litigation support services may be necessary for urgent legal matters, it’s important to evaluate whether the urgency you think you need is worth the price you pay. In many instances, your firm may be overpaying for a service that doesn’t require rushed service.

By analyzing your needs, evaluating service levels, and tracking your expenses, you can make more informed decisions about how to allocate your resources and save money on litigation support services.

If you would like to learn more about Rapid Legal’s superior process serving performance or reporting and analytics that deliver transparency and accountability to our law firm clients, schedule a call or book a demo today.

eFiling Hacks

8 eFiling Hacks You Need to Know

eFiling Hacks

Ever caught yourself thinking, “I can’t possibly work any harder?”

We may not be able to help you work harder but we can help you work more efficiently, and some days that may be all you really need to manifest your inner eFiling rock star.

To help you get there, we’ve hand-selected eight hacks that unlock time-saving features when you eFile court documents in the Rapid Legal portal. Read on, bookmark this page, and use it like a get-rich-quick scheme for your productivity.


8 eFiling Hacks

1. Concierge Service

Our Concierge Service is the ultimate shortcut for the world’s busiest legal professionals. Hand over the entire eFiling to a Rapid Legal expert who formats and assembles your document. This personal service includes checks and corrections to verify:

  • Documents are not corrupted or password-protected.
  • Font size and style are correct.
  • Pages are paginated correctly.
  • Summons matches the complaint.
  • All mandated forms are attached.
  • Exhibits are electronically bookmarked.
  • Text is text-searchable.

This service may be the fastest headache reliever available for many legal professionals. However, Concierge Service is only available to registered account owners, so if you’re not yet a Rapid Legal account owner and you know you’re going to need capable and experienced backup, create an account now.

Concierge Service Does More!

See all of the services you get with Rapid Legal’s Concierge Service on our website.


2. Fees Tab: Your eFiling is less likely to be rejected by the court if you pay close attention to the Fees Tab, so take charge of this seemingly small detail. Even if the rest of your eFiling is bulletproof, an improper fee amount will send your efforts off the rails.

Each time you see the fees tab, remember:

  • You must enter the correct fee amount in the Fees tab. If your fee amount is incorrect the order will be rejected.
  • Selecting the option to authorize Rapid Legal to advance the fees does not automatically pay the fees to the court.
  • Subpoena Witness Fees can trip you up. If you’re not sure when a Subpoena Witness Fee is required check The Code of Civil Procedure of California.


3. Document Management System Integration with iManage and NetDocuments: Use this new integration to upload and download documents for your eFiling orders directly from the Rapid Legal portal. If you’re a high-volume eFiler this will save you hours of time over the long haul.

Using this streamlined feature is simple:

  • Log into the Rapid Legal portal for direct access and use the search tool to locate a specific document.
  • To place an eFiling order, select documents from your NetDocuments or iManage account once it’s time to upload the documents.
  • Court-stamped documents are automatically saved to your NetDocuments or iManage account.
  • The document(s) the courts return will transmit directly to your DMS account — and you don’t have to do a thing.

And just like that, you eliminated the need to download, import, and rename files on your local computer.

See it in action! Watch the video and discover how legal professionals use this integration for seamless document transfer.


4. Expert Review: Our in-house experts spot errors prior to court submission to increase the likelihood that the court clerk will accept your eFiling. This service increases your court eFiling acceptance rate and helps you reclaim the time you’d spend doing a detailed review yourself.

Each expert review places a laser focus on your documents to verify that:

  • Signatures and dates are entered as required.
  • Document titles are correct.
  • Court locations and addresses are entered correctly.
  • Names and parties on the documents match.
  • Case numbers match and documents are conformed (if applicable).
  • Correct document titles are selected (this assures fees are correctly paid to the court).

There’s more to the complete Expert Review audit that we can list here. Visit the Expert Review page on our website to see what the full scope of this premium service offers.


5. Stand-alone eService: Get exactly what you need, when you need it. Place stand-alone eService orders on the Rapid Legal portal independent of a court eFiling order.

Here’s how it works:

  • Party A sends an email to Party B, notifying Party B that a court document(s) has been served.
  • The email identifies the court document(s) by the document’s specific name.
  • The email contains a secure link Party B can use to view and download the court document(s).

Stand-alone eService is available in two workflows:

  1. Workflow for California courts that have eFiling.
  2. Workflow for California courts that do not have eFiling.

Better eFiling Pricing? Yes, You Can.

Find out how many large companies drive down vendor prices and get preferred treatment by How Law Firms Can Get Better Pricing and Service with a Single, Preferred Provider on the Rapid Legal blog.

manage cases

6. Manage Cases: A simple solution to track the status of your orders for any of your cases in your Rapid Legal portal.

To navigate the Manage Cases feature, follow these simple steps once you log into your Rapid Legal account:

1. Click on Manage Cases and search your case by its name or by its order number.

manage cases

2. Search for any case that has been active over the last 90 days either by case name or case number.


3. Select the green plus sign to expand the case, then select the order for details.

place order

Manage Cases is where you can also find your conformed copies or proofs of service. Select the Documents tab to locate and view all documents related to the specific order.

Case not found?

If you receive a “Case not found” error message when attempting to place an eFile order, check other filings you may have done for the format of the case number. Most cases have letters at either the beginning or the end of the number.

7. PDF Preparation: Alerts from the Rapid Legal portal can help you stay on top of potential errors when you’re creating a PDF. Still, you want to strive to create an error-free PDF before it leaves your desktop, so use these tips to keep your eFiling on track and out of the rejection bin.

  • Make your PDFs searchable.
  • Compress PDFs correctly.
  • Do NOT make PDFs locked or fillable.
  • Do you have a fillable document that’s giving you fits? Print the document to PDF or print and rescan then upload on the Documents tab.

Received a “corrupted or invalid PDF” error message?

error message

If this happens, check the top left-hand corner of the screen to see whether the document is locked. The court will not accept locked documents.

locked document

You can resolve this error by:

  • Printing and scanning the document and saving to desktop or
  • Saving the document to .pdf then saving it again to the desktop.

PDF larger than 100 pages?

If you’re working with a particularly unwieldy PDF remember this important rule: the deadline for court documents that exceed 100 pages is 1 hour earlier than the normal deadline.

8. Support: You have several options to work through issues that may crop up when you eFile, including email and phone support. You may also use Rapid Legal’s chat feature as a time-saver when you need to connect with a member of our operations team.

Regardless of the method you select, use the table below to find a hack that will get the fastest, best results from your support session.

When using our chat feature:

Be sure to include your account number or order number while asking a question. If there is a document with which you need assistance, you may attach the document to the chat so the operations team can review it while the chat is in progress. Attaching the document will make your chat process more efficient.

Order or case numbers:

Any communication with our operations team members should include a Rapid Legal order number or case number.

No email links, please:

To keep our systems safe and minimize security risks, our operations team members do not review links that are sent in emails. Please do not send a link inside an email to team members.


You’ve only scratched the surface!

We’ve got even more resources to help you develop your eFiling expertise. Tools such as our Infographic: 5 Secrets to Successful eFiling and [Updated] The Complete Beginner’s Guide to eFiling in 2022 and Beyond can improve the results you’re getting from your eFiling no matter your experience level. The Rapid Legal blog also has exclusive content tailored to sharpen your expertise for the litigation support services you use most. You’ll get the best in technical guidance, professional development, and roadmaps to visualize how your law firm will leverage technology in the 21st century.

It’s all there to view, download, and share for free. If you’re a bargain hunter, think of it as the best deal you’ll find for leveling up your career.

Get started now with our recommended reading list:

Visit the Rapid Legal blog for our complete library of content created especially for the working legal professional.


Need more information?

Is there a hack you want to know more about? Be sure to check out our after-hours support or how we can provide data about your performance and our performance to help your firm operate efficiently and save money.

Contact us today to find out more. Schedule a call or book a demo today!

courts compress pdf

How to Properly Compress a PDF the Courts Will Accept

courts compress pdf

What do a hippopotamus and a PDF have in common? Both can be obedient and sort of cuddly when they’re small, but at full size, they become hard to manage and a little dangerous.

Fortunately, the magic of file compression can keep your PDFs from turning into unwieldy beasts that exceed the size limits courts place on electronically filed (eFiled) legal documents.

Here’s This guide will teach you how to use compression to transform any PDF into a well-behaved, right-sized document the court will accept.


Why the Portable Document Format (PDF)?

PDFs are everywhere. Approximately 2.5 trillion PDFs are created each year. They’re used by everyone from NASA to the IRS to the Girl Scouts of America. Their global footprint is so ubiquitous PDFs even have their own ISO standard (in case you’re wondering, it’s ISO 32000).

So, what’s behind the PDF’s popularity?

PDFs are simple and utilitarian: they travel well, you can pack a lot of stuff into them, and just about anyone can create one.

Created by Adobe Inc. in 1993, the Portable Document Format (PDF) has also aged well.

As of 2023, some of the current versions of the applications that allow you to create, view, and edit a PDF—such as Adobe Acrobat Pro—now allow you to place text, images, music, and video into a single type of file that can’t be edited or altered (unless you want to.)

That means you can send that PDF to a law firm on the other side of the globe where it can be opened and read—just as you intended—by someone you’ll probably never meet.

However, while the PDF architecture is stable, reliable, and easy to use, PDFs can also become quite large. An oversized PDF is likely to clash with strict size limits set by California courts which, in turn, will cause a court eFiling to be rejected.

Compressing a PDF to meet the court’s limits solves that problem.

Files Too Large

What Makes Files Too Large?

In most cases, the cause behind an improperly compressed PDF is one of two things: either the images included in the PDF were scanned incorrectly or the scans were attached to the PDF without being compressed.

Here are a couple of points to think about before you open the lid on your scanner:

Resolution and Color

To properly prepare and compress a PDF you’ll want to pay attention to the resolution and color settings on your scanning device. That’s because problems with a PDF’s image file sizes typically develop for one of two reasons:

  1. Images haven’t been compressed.
  2. Images were scanned in color.

Color settings: Making a color scan of an image or document that is black and white creates an image file size much larger than it should be, which unnecessarily increases the overall size of your PDF. Make sure you select the “color” setting when you scan color images and the black-and-white setting when you scan documents or images that are black-and-white.

Resolution settings: When you scan an image or document pay close attention to the resolution at which you are making the scan. Choose the resolution setting that creates a clear and legible image, but does so at a minimal file size.

To illustrate the effect that resolution has on document size, Table 1 demonstrates the results of an 8.5” x 11” black-and-white document scanned at four different resolutions:

Table 1.

Resolution File Size (approximate)
72 ppi 45 KB
300 ppi 524 KB
600 ppi 3 MB (3,000 KB)
1,200 ppi 9.5 MB (95,000 KB)

As you can see, file size escalates quickly once you set the resolution higher than 72ppi, so be sure the resolution you select isn’t overkill.

For best results, always keep one eye on your color and resolution settings. This may be especially important for civil case types that are known to use large numbers of images, such as:

  • Accident cases
  • Health-related cases
  • Elder abuse
  • Medical malpractice

Helpful Reminder

One way to protect your eFilings from being rejected because of improper PDF compression is to know the court’s requirements. Pay close attention to them when preparing a PDF.

Your PDF is Too Big. Now what?

When a PDF sent to Rapid Legal for eFiling exceeds the court’s maximum document size and maximum envelope size limits, the Rapid Legal portal issues an error code when the sender presses the “Submit” key.

That error message informs the user sender that the file size is too large (see Figure 1 below).

Figure 1

figure 1

The error message stops the eFiling process and at that point, no extra costs are yet incurred. This is also a point at which the customer may fix the compression problem before it leaves the desk and resubmit the eFiling order.

If a document reaches Rapid Legal and still has a file size problem, oftentimes a member of the Rapid Legal operations team will step in to help. In some cases, the team member can quickly teach the person who ordered the eFiling how to compress the PDF properly so they can correctly save files themselves moving forward.

Helpful Reminder

Did you know you can protect against a too-large PDF in your eFiling by using Rapid Legal’s Concierge Service? In addition to reviewing your eFiling order for other potential errors as part of Concierge Service, our operations team members will optimize your PDF and make it text-searchable.

Find out more about Concierge Service now!

How do you avoid it?

Compressing a PDF is a simple process. The key part is to know which version of Adobe Acrobat you’re using and follow the instructions for that version.

If you’re saving your PDF correctly you can make it text-searchable and optimize it at the same time.

There are many tutorials published on the internet that can help you with this. Performing a search on Google or YouTube with keywords such as “compress pdf” or “reduce pdf size” is likely to yield good results.

compress PDF

How to compress a PDF the courts will accept

To get the best results when you’re trying to compress a PDF to submit to Rapid Legal for eFiling, follow these simple steps:

First, be sure you’re using the proper tool for the job. There are more ways than one to create a PDF but, for the California courts, be sure the tool you use is Adobe Acrobat. There are several versions of Adobe Acrobat that operate on Windows or Mac.

Adobe offers a free version of Acrobat as well as subscription versions such as Adobe Acrobat Pro, which has many advanced features. Each version has different capabilities, so be sure the version you use offers file compression.

The steps below apply to Adobe Acrobat Pro

  • Launch Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  • Open the PDF you want to compress.
  • In the toolbar on the right side, navigate to the More Tools selection. Click on More Tools..
  • Scroll down to the Protect & Standardize section.
  • Find the Optimize PDF option.
  • Double-click on Optimize PDF.
  • Your document opens automatically.
  • In the ribbon at the top of the page select Optimize Scanned Pages.
  • The Enhanced Scanned PDF window appears.
  • Click OK.

This same process also makes the PDF text-searchable.

PDF Expertise

Show Off Your PDF Expertise

What better place to demonstrate your command of all things PDF than eFiling with Rapid Legal? Once you’ve prepared your PDF to the court’s size standards, Rapid Legal will get your order completed in any California court where eFiling is available.

We’re confident your PDF expertise combined with our unrivaled eFiling service makes a powerful team. In fact, we put that confidence in writing with the Rapid Legal Satisfaction Guarantee: Your work is done right or you don’t pay.

Get your court eFilling started now! Or, if you want to learn more about our full range of litigation support services, schedule a call or book a demo.

Superior Courts Glossary Terminology

The Ultimate Glossary of Superior Courts Terminology

Superior Courts Glossary Terminology

This glossary of terms1 used in the California Superior Courts is organized alphabetically and can be quickly searched, shared, or printed. Bookmark this page for easy reference to have it at your fingertips when needed.

The definitions in this glossary are intended only to provide context and a general understanding of the information in this publication. They are not to be relied on as legal authority or cited as authoritative.

Glossary 1

appeal: A proceeding for direct review of a civil or criminal judgment from a limited-jurisdiction case, including small claims matters.

assessed judicial need (AJN): Represents the estimated number of judicial officers needed to handle the workload in the trial courts based on the Judicial Needs Assessment.


caseload clearance rate: Clearance rates show the number of outgoing cases as a percentage of the number of incoming cases. They measure whether the court is disposing of cases in a timely fashion or whether a backlog of cases is growing.

certification (Welf. & Inst. Code (W&I), § 5250): A 14-day certification to detain and treat a person who, owing to a mental disorder or chronic alcoholism, is alleged to be a danger to self and/or others and/or is gravely disabled.

commissioner: A subordinate judicial officer, employed by the court, who performs judicial or quasi-judicial duties assigned to him or her. A commissioner may be authorized to decide only limited pretrial issues of fact and law or to conduct complete trials. Commissioners frequently act as temporary judges.


disposition: Termination of a proceeding. Civil dispositions before trial include transfers to another trial court, dismissals, summary judgments, and other judgments. Criminal dispositions before trial include transfers to another trial court, sentences after pleas of guilty or no contest, and dismissals. Civil dispositions after trial include entry of judgment after jury trial and court trial. Criminal dispositions after trial include acquittals, grants of probation, and sentences after conviction.


eFiling: The act of filing court documents electronically; also known as eFiling. 2. Court documents that are filed with the court by means of digital online technologies to initiate a legal action or modify an ongoing legal action.*


eFiling: It’s now in 35 California counties and growing.

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family law (marital): Proceedings in which a petition has been filed for dissolution or voiding of a marriage or for legal separation.

family law petitions: Family law cases other than marital cases, such as domestic violence petitions and petitions filed by the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) for reimbursement of child support.

felony: A criminal case alleging an offense punishable by imprisonment in a state prison or by death.

filings in civil matters: Civil cases for which complaints or petitions have been filed.

filings in criminal matters: The number of defendants against whom criminal charges have been filed.

filings in juvenile matters: The number of minors who are the subjects of petitions.


habeas corpus: Petition alleging unlawful imprisonment, unlawful restraint of liberty, or unlawful confinement conditions (Pen. Code section 1473).

Glossary 4


judgeship: A judicial position conferring power to exercise the full legal authority of the court in which the judge sits (by selection or assignment). The term “Judgeships,” as used in this report, represents the number of positions authorized by law, whether filled or vacant.

judicial position equivalents: An estimate of the number of judicial officers who were present and available to conduct court business. The number includes authorized judgeships (adjusted to reflect judicial vacancies and assistance given to other courts) and assistance received from assigned judges, full-time and parttime commissioners and referees, and temporary judges serving by stipulation of the parties.

judicial positions: The number of judgeships authorized by law, plus positions of referees and commissioners.

juvenile delinquency proceedings: Petitions filed under W&I 602, alleging violation of a criminal statute, and petitions filed under W&I 601, alleging that a minor is beyond the control of parents or guardians but has not violated any law. An original petition begins a delinquency proceeding, including miscellaneous juvenile petitions. A subsequent petition adds allegations against a minor child who is already subject to the court’s jurisdiction, including nonminor dependents (AB 12) petitions and W&I 777 notices.

juvenile dependency proceedings: Petitions filed under W&I 300, seeking to make a minor child a ward of the court because of abuse or neglect. An original petition begins a dependency proceeding. A subsequent petition adds allegations regarding a minor child who is already subject to the court’s jurisdiction, including W&I 342, W&I 387, and non-minor dependents (AB 12) petitions.


limited civil: All civil matters with a value of $25,000 or less, except small claims matters.


mental health proceedings: Includes most types of mental health cases, including but not limited to LPS Conservatorship (W&I 5350), mental competency (PC 1368; W&I 709), and civil commitments with or without an underlying criminal case.

motor vehicle personal injury, death, and property damage: Actions for damages in excess of $25,000 for physical injury to persons and property and actions for wrongful death related to motor vehicle accidents.


nontraffic infractions: Nontraffic violations of state statutes or local ordinances specified as infractions.

nontraffic misdemeanors: Misdemeanors including intoxication complaints and violations of the Penal Code, local city and county ordinances, and the Fish and Game Code.


Words every legal professional should know to survive those “techy” conversations around the office.

The eFiling and Legal Tech Dictionary for Legal Professionals

Read it Now.


other civil complaints and petitions: Cases not covered in any other civil case category, including complaints for declaratory relief only, mechanics’ liens, and petitions for partnership and corporate governance. If the requested relief is for money, it must be in excess of $25,000 to be filed as a general-jurisdiction case.

other mental health proceedings: Includes other mental health cases not included in the mental health category as well as noncriminal habeas corpus.


personal injury, death, and property damage: All actions for damages in excess of $25,000 for physical injury to persons and property and all actions for wrongful death.

probate: All probate proceedings, will contests, guardianship and conservatorship proceedings (not including conservatorship proceedings under the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act), and petitions to compromise minors’ claims (when not part of a pending action or proceeding).


process server: n /PRÄ ses sƏrvƏr/

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reduced to misdemeanor: Cases in which a charge originally filed as a felony is disposed of as a misdemeanor.

referee: A subordinate judicial officer employed by a county to handle matters assigned by the court, such as traffic law violations.


small claims: All matters filed in small claims court with a value of $10,000 or less, with the exception of businesses and other entities (i.e. government entities) whom cannot ask for more than $5,000.


time to disposition: The amount of time it takes a court to dispose of cases within established time frames.

traffic infractions: Traffic-related violations of state statutes or city or county ordinances specified as infractions, including parking violations.

traffic misdemeanors: Violations of Vehicle Code sections 20002 (hit and run, property damage), 23104 (reckless driving, causing injury), and 23152 (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) and all other traffic misdemeanors.


unlawful detainer: A civil action involving the possession of real property by a commercial or residential tenant whose original entry was lawful but whose right to the possession has terminated with a value of $25,000 or less.

unlimited civil: All civil and unlawful detainer matters with a value of more than $25,000.

Glossary 3

More than words

Top-performing legal professionals never stop learning. Rapid Legal’s robust resource library helps you work smarter no matter your career length or academic pedigree.

To further enhance your professional excellence, we’ve curated some of the most popular resources attorneys, administrators and paralegals use to update their knowledge about the courts, legal trends, and technology, to stay at the top of their game.

Start checking them out today to keep yourself a step ahead.


How-to articles

How to Map Out Your Law Firm’s Digital Transformation

How Law Firms Can Get Better eFiling Pricing and Service with a Single, Preferred Provider

Proof of Service Boot Camp: What Every Legal Professional Should Know



Infographic: 5 Signs It’s Time to Switch Your Legal Support Service Provider

Infographic: Simple Meditations for the Busy Legal Professional

California County Court eFiling Statistics and eFiling Workflow


Explainer videos

Address Validation by Google Explainer Video

iManage + NetDocuments Integration Makes eFiling Faster and Easier – Explainer Video

Can I Cancel an eFiling Order After Submission?


Want to discuss our premium litigation support services and technology offering?

Schedule a call or book a demo today with a Rapid Legal account executive today.


1. Information for this glossary was originally published in Appendix D of the Judicial Council of California 2020 Court Statistics Report except where denoted by *.

Infographic: 5 Signs It’s Time to Switch Your Legal Support Service Provider

Infographic: 5 Signs It’s Time to Switch Your Legal Support Service Provider

Law firms must operate at the top of their game in every way, but a poor performing litigation support service provider can create setbacks for firms that have costly consequences. Use this infographic to recognize whether your current litigation support service provider is an asset or liability.

Find out what kind of provider you have.

Download this PDF and learn at-a-glance how to read the signals from customer support, pricing, performance, and more. Some are subtle while others are more clear, but each indicates trouble ahead so it’s important to recognize them all.

You can also help your colleagues and friends who work in the legal industry avoid these problems. Share this infographic as a URL or attach it to an email as a PDF and spread the word.

Predictions for the Legal Industry in 2023

Predictions for the Legal Industry in 2023

Predictions for the Legal Industry in 2023

The tricky thing about seeing the future is seeing the future of things that actually matter. For the legal industry, technology has a direct effect on the speed, accuracy, and security of work, so we did our homework and focused predictions on four core technology areas that will matter to nearly every legal professional in 2023: integration, automation, data, and cybersecurity.

Rather than examine each of these areas from a high-level conceptual perch, we view them from the ground level to assess how they may change things for legal professionals as the year unfolds.

Here’s what we found and what you should prepare for—or take advantage of.

document management systems (DMS)

Move faster from Point A to Point B

Integrations almost always result in getting more done in fewer steps, which is why they appear at the front of this parade. One of the best efficiency payoffs we predict for 2023 will come from the integration some litigation support service providers have stitched together with document management systems (DMS).

That’s because these digital mergers accelerate the speed and accuracy of eFiling and other litigation support services that require the use of documents saved in a DMS.

In terms of law firm productivity, here’s a clear example of why these integrations matter:

Traditionally, if you wanted to use documents from a DMS with an eFiling, you’d be slowed down by a clunky transfer process that looks like this:

  • Retrieve documents from the DMS.
  • Download the documents to your local drive.
  • Upload the documents to a litigation support service provider’s platform.
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.

In contrast, the integration between the DMS and litigation support service provider makes the process leaner.

That’s because the integration allows you to access your DMS from the same browser window you’re already working in as you create an eFiling order.

This more efficient process is already saving time on eFiling and other litigation support service orders offered by Rapid Legal. The company engineered an integration with iManage and NetDocuments that shrinks the traditional way of wrangling assets from a DMS into this simple process:

  • Select iManage or NetDocuments from the dropdown menu in the Rapid Legal portal, select the documents you need, and add them to your order.

That’s it. No extra steps.

You can watch this seamless process in action in this explainer video.

Another important integration the legal industry will welcome in 2023 comes from search engine behemoth, Google. Keep your eye on this one because it’s likely to help you reduce document rejections caused by inaccurate or incomplete address information.

Address Validation by Google

Location, location, location!

Getting the right location is as crucial for legal documents as it is for buying real estate. To help make location-based information for litigation support service orders as accurate as possible, Rapid Legal engineered an integration with Address Validation by Google.

Here’s how it will affect your work:

As you type an address into a location-based order, Google recommends a match from its 160 million addresses. You select the address you want and Address Validation by Google validates the information for accuracy and completeness. This feature also:

  • Adds missing information such as street designation or ZIP codes.
  • Determines the type of address automatically (business or residence).
  • Searches by business name only (Google adds the full address).

Take a look at Address Validation by Google in this explainer video and you’ll understand why we predict integrations will be headline news for the legal industry.

legal industry automation

Automation: The bot will see you now

It’s official: Automation in the legal industry is no longer just for number crunchers. Automation has moved beyond the dry landscape of actuarial calculations onto a colorful new plane where it helps law firms become more, well, chatty.

Just ask the chatbots.

Chatbots are artificial intelligence (AI) tools that help offload work from human counterparts. This makes them seem like the inevitable MVP for many hyper-busy law firms.

If you’re asking, “What have chatbots done for me lately?” here are two important tasks they perform to help law firms manage workloads:

  1. Welcome visitors to the law firm website and provide immediate attention.
  2. Respond to online FAQs from prospects and clients.

But wait, there’s more.

Chatbots have mastered the digital meet-and-greet in multiple languages, perform their tasks 24/7 for no salary, and never call in sick. Chatbots also free up law firm staff to focus on higher value work, which is something office managers appreciate.

The growth arc for chatbots won’t flatten out any time soon. As popular as they will become, though, chatbots will be only part of the legal industry’s automation story for 2023. That’s because automation-based discovery tools have gotten a foothold among 21st century law firms, which positions them for higher levels of adoption.

Automated convenience

Automated convenience

The use of automation tools for early discovery will grow this year for good reason: The costs associated with the discovery phase of a trial may balloon up to more than the cost of the trial itself.

Artificial intelligence changes that calculus by assisting with the tedious, time-consuming portion of early discovery. That includes tasks associated with collecting, processing, searching, reviewing, and analyzing data. All handled in a fraction of the time manual methods require.

Another area where AI tools will grow in popularity is contract review. Similar to the reasons legal professionals use AI-based early discovery tools to save time, they will also use AI-based contract review tools to review and remediate contracts in far less time than manual methods.

Automation for litigation support services

Automation is catching on among litigation support service providers, and their expanding use of this technology in 2023 shows no sign of slowing down. The appeal of automation lies in the efficiency and peace of mind it offers busy legal professionals.

The popularity of automated services has risen quickly among Rapid Legal’s own customers, where the company applies automation to:

  • Proof of Service alerts sent automatically to a customer’s email inbox to advise that service has been completed.
  • Electronic payment systems that move payment for service online and eliminate paper checks. This automation makes paying for litigation support service orders paperless and nearly instantaneous.

The more you use these integrations the more you’ll wonder how you ever worked without them. If you are a manager, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.

And, there is more good news coming for firms that want to manage operations efficiently: Data they’re probably already sitting on can be used to strengthen the bottom line.

Know your data, know yourself

Know your data, know yourself

Do you know whether your firm is making money? Do you know whether your clients are happy?

Some law firms have no clue how to answer these questions, a phenomenon observed by Nicholas d’Adhemar, founder and CEO of Apperio, in an interview with

d’Adhemar says the majority of large legal departments do not measure in-house activity. That lack of insight, he explains, leaves firms in the dark about key business metrics.

But that’s about to change.

“[Law firms will] increasingly look to legal technology to scale and streamline workflows and capture data to prove their value,” d’Adehmar says.

And, as law firms begin to use data about themselves and their clients, they increasingly will begin to measure efficiency, client satisfaction, and legal spend, d’Adhemar explains. Doing so will allow them to manage those areas more effectively.

d’Adhemar isn’t the only one who thinks so.

Scott Forman, Chief Data Officer, Littler Mendelson, says legal service providers and law departments have pulled insights from their own data ecosystems in the last few years to reap substantial returns.

They’ve been able to do this by investing in technology.

“For those with established data science teams and operations, now is the time to really leverage the work done to organize and aggregate their data to optimize internal processes and enhance the delivery of legal services,” Forman says.

Law firms are learning that data helps them effectively manage the most important areas of their business, which is to say they are learning the value of data.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals also know the value of data and have grown more ambitious in their attempts to steal it. Which raises an important question for law firm leadership to ask themselves in 2023: “What are we going to do about it?

A culture of security

A culture of security

The sheer volume of digital outlaws operating in cyberspace makes the online world seem like the Wild West. In 2023 alone cybercriminals are projected to cost the global community $8 trillion, and no one expects them to disappear anytime soon.

The fallout from cybercrime is so bad Warren Buffet characterized it as the #1 problem with mankind.

It’s not just Warren Buffett who’s troubled by cybercrime—it’s also troubling to 42% of law firm business leaders who rated security breaches, data loss, hacking, and ransomware as high risks to law firm profitability.

Is there a way to fight back?

Yes, there are a number of methods the legal industry can use to combat cybercrime. Among the most promising and practical are:

  • Security tokens
    Physical objects such as a smart card, USB key, mobile device, or radio frequency ID card that provides authentication by generating a password that allows you to access a system.
  • Security training awareness programs
    Cybersecurity awareness training addresses everything from bad practices to cyber assessments, cyber incident responses, and more. The training helps workers at all levels across a law firm identify online security risks and avoid them.
  • Passwordless technology
    Devices are unlocked using methods such as a fingerprint, face verification, or “magic link.” Magic links are similar to a one-time use code you’d receive via email, except the link enables you to log into a system directly by clicking on it. Apple passkeys are an example of passwordless technology, engineered to function across all Apple devices as well as non-Apple devices within physical proximity.
  • Multi-factor authorization
    Multi-factor authorization requires two or more forms of evidence to access an account: for example, a password with a single-use PIN. Some variations may include a password combined with a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint, face, or retina.

Cyberattacks on the legal industry will almost certainly continue beyond 2023. However, a surge in the adoption of hacker-resistant technologies combined with education aimed at teaching legal professionals how to recognize and respond to cyberthreats could signal a lane change in how well the industry protects itself.

The future looks bright

Grab your shades. The future looks bright
The legal industry has challenges to overcome in the year ahead, but even as the industry continues to emerge from the recent pandemic there is reason for optimism.

Perhaps the most compelling reason was captured in a recent survey in which an 84% majority of law firm managers or executives say they feel empowered to drive change from within their firms.

Rapid Legal is here to help law firms and legal professionals across the legal industry drive positive change and strengthen their position. Contact us to find out how our integrations, automations, and other data-driven services can help your law firm save money, operate more efficiently, and make 2023 one of your best years ever.

Schedule a demo or set up a call with a Rapid Legal account manager today!

Infographic Simple Meditations for the Busy Legal Professional

Infographic: Simple Meditations for the Busy Legal Professional

Juggling multiple tasks for multiple matters without losing your patience can seem like a fine art. That’s why it’s important for legal professionals to stay relaxed and centered at work. The meditations in this infographic help you do exactly that.

Download the PDF now and begin using this infographic as a guide for each exercise. Perform them any time and any place to stay calm and relaxed; even when the office around you isn’t.

Do you have friends or colleagues who need simple options for staying focused? Help them out by attaching this infographic PDF to an email and sharing the techniques.

Stepping Into Change

Stepping Into Change

Stepping Into Change

Do you know someone who doesn’t like surprises or being told what to do? Those attitudes are prevalent among people who resist change at work and are shaped by several factors. Fortunately, resistance to change can be overcome.

This article shares approaches on how to overcome resistance to change and build enthusiasm for embracing the unknown. It likewise shows you how to use those principles to navigate a vendor switch to make the process smoother and less intimidating. Read on to learn how these methods work.

Why we resist change

Why we resist change

Change is a constant in the workplace. Overcoming resistance to change is no longer just a nice-to-have; it’s become mission-critical to the success of businesses and the people who work in them. The first step to conquering this resistance is to understand why some people resist change.

Researchers have compiled a laundry list of reasons people avoid change, such as:

  • Disturbed practices, habits, and relationships
  • Lack of respect and trust in the people who promote change
  • Self-interest and shifts in power and influence
  • Dislike of imposed change
  • Dislike of surprises
  • Reluctance of management to deal with difficult issues
  • Lack of self-confidence and confidence in others

Experts wrestle with the best way to effect change, but generally agree on one point: Adopting change is the only way to thrive in a digitally-driven business world that evolves rapidly.

How to step into change

How to step into change

Moving people from their ‘comfort zone’ means moving from the familiar, secure, and controllable, to the unfamiliar, insecure, and uncontrollable.

Here are four mindset shifts to help anyone warm up to the idea of change.

  1. Embrace the opportunity: Ultimately, if you don’t focus on the change, you won’t be successful. Maintaining a positive outlook and focusing on the change that is ahead will keep you from falling backwards.
  2. Be curious: Ask yourself, “How is this moment happening for me rather than to me.” Ask good questions and follow your curiosity. This will give you confidence to navigate what lies ahead.
  3. Accelerate your goals: Resisting change will slow you down from reaching your destination. Change presets you with the opportunity to go further, faster.
  4. Lean on others: You’re in this together. Recognize that you are not the only one experiencing the change personally or professionally. Reaching out to those around you can make it easier to navigate change.

Manage the fear factor

Manage the fear factor

Anxiety. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of failure. All of these keep us from stepping into change, but—good news—each of these factors can be modulated.

Motivational speaker Tony Robbins offers an excellent set of techniques for overcoming fear. We’ve summed several that can be used:

  • Adopt a growth mindset
    It’s not about achieving your goals and being perfect every step of the way. It’s about getting comfortable with what you don’t know and continuing anyway. As Robbins says, “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”
  • Recognize excuses
    Fear makes you procrastinate. It’s much easier to make excuses than put in the long hours and energy needed to reach your goal. Recognize when you are using excuses and figure out how to overcome them. Replacing them with a positive approach is a good start.
  • Know that failure is part of the process
    Everyone on the planet – including those you know and admire – has encountered failure. Realize that your fear of failure is preventing you from making the decision to achieve your objectives.
  • Visualize your goals
    Goal visualization sets your focus. This visualization may take the form of priming, meditation, or imagery training. What’s important is to see yourself succeeding and condition yourself into believing that you can do whatever you imagine.
  • Keep company with success
    People who are focused on overcoming fear and achieving their dreams surround themselves with others who share that mindset. This group may include people you admire as well as those who will push you in a positive direction.

Change and the art of switching vendors

Change and the art of switching vendors

Don’t go through change alone. Find a strategic partner.

Changing litigation support service providers can help law firm staff members solve work-related frustrations and operate more efficiently today. But what about the future? With workflow automation, data, and digital transformation trends taking hold in the legal industry, not all vendors are prepared to support modern law firms seeking assistance in these areas.

You can sidestep that problem if you know how to evaluate whether your vendor has the stuff to be a strategic partner.

“Strategic” means the firm and the vendor can do more together than individually. A strategic partner has deep industry knowledge to know what else can be done with synergies created by systems and technologies beyond an obvious product feature.

How do I evaluate a vendor?

If you are considering switching vendors, don’t be sold on technology alone. The truth is technology by itself does not make a 21st century law firm.

The vendor you want should bring strategy and new ways of thinking to the table, as well as best-in-class technology.

An example of that may be found in how a vendor thinks about integrations or data metrics with the law firm.

If a vendor gives a law firm visibility and transparency into the litigation support service work itself, and shows the firm what more can be done to gain efficiency and cost savings on the execution of work the vendor does, that means the relationship is strategic.

A strategic partner will help uncover and examine a firm’s vision, strategies, and plans.

Firms that have the most data and insights will win

In the 21st century, change for the better means switching to a tech solution that produces data. That data should tell you how well your business is running. Furthermore, the data must be sharable and timely so you can use it to track performance and identify trends.

The ability to help you use data smartly is the mark of a strategic partner.

What kind of data can I use?

What kind of data can I use?

If you’re considering a switch, a new vendor should provide data associated with common litigation support services such as court filing, eFiling, and process serving. This data can help gauge the performance of vendors and function as a cost control measure.

Yes, it works

As an example, a firm can examine service of process orders by pricing zone to predict whether the cost of service of process in certain locales may be untenable. The firm may also use the reports to gauge a law firm’s internal performance and whether the vendor is delivering service as promised.

Other firms are using vendors that have this capability which means it’s no longer a nice-to-have but rather, mission critical.

Set expectations

A big part of what a firm can achieve depends on the providers they select to help them get the job done. But what is the job, exactly, and how should it be done?

Good leaders answer these questions by setting expectations for their firms and their vendors. They make sure those expectations are clearly defined by answering the following:

  • What are the expectations?
  • Can the vendor meet them?
  • Have the expectations been clearly articulated?

The relationship you need and want

The relationship you need and want

Some relationships continue long after their expiration date. That may be the case oftentimes between law firms and vendors. The law firm continues to do business with a poor-performing vendor simply because they believe changing vendors will require too much fuss and bother.

But that thinking is a good way to ensure you never get what you deserve or need.

If the aim of your vendor switch is to create a truly positive effect on your law firm, take a moment to think about whether your current litigation support service vendor offers:

  • Transparency
  • A dedicated account manager
  • Data reporting that identifies good/poor performance
  • Tying more strategic implementations into other systems
  • Metrics that confirm cost savings

Even a good relationship should not stand in the way of a switch to something that helps the law firm operate at a higher level.

Make sure your partner is consultative. Find one that has deep industry knowledge it will share to reveal to you what else can be done to bring efficiencies, cost savings, and risk mitigation.

Change is good

Change is good

Embracing change is a critical skill for your personal and professional life. Throw out the idea that change is hard and get your transformation moving with a change in mindset. Then, tap into your curiosity, peer network, and technology vendors to help reinvent yourself.

Remember, stepping into change will not only expand your knowledge and inspire your co-workers, but it will also make you stand out as a law firm and create competitive advantage.

Schedule a call or book a demo today with a Rapid Legal account executive today to find out how we can be a strategic partner and help you navigate change successfully.

Should You Be a Contract Paralegal?

Should You Be a Contract Paralegal?

Should You Be a Contract Paralegal?

You’ve heard the buzz. “Become a contract paralegal and work for yourself.” The internet is practically daring you to use its technology so you can decide when to work, where to work, and for whom to work.

Sounds good, right?

And it is good for many paralegals but becoming a successful contract paralegal requires more than just a laptop and broadband connection. If the idea of becoming a contract paralegal appeals to you, this article can help you figure out whether you’ve got the skills and aptitude for it, and provide valuable tips to help get you started.

What is a contract paralegal?

Let’s clarify the difference between a contract paralegal and a similar sounding but distinctly different role: independent paralegal. Here’s what defines each:


Contract Paralegal

An individual who performs substantive legal work for law firms or corporations, or other entities but is self-employed. (Also known as a freelance paralegal.)

Source: California Alliance of Paralegal Associations

Independent Paralegal

A non-attorney who provides legal document preparation services to the public and may be referred to as a legal document preparer or forms practitioner.

Source: Paralegal Alliance

As the definitions above note, the contract paralegal contracts with law firms. Their work is reviewed by the contracting attorney, who is likewise responsible for whatever work the contract paralegal has done.

An independent paralegal does not work under the supervision of an attorney.

Why become a contract paralegal?

Why become a contract paralegal?

Some opt for contract work because they want control over whether they work full-time, part-time, or just enough hours for the work to be a side hustle. For others, controlling whether they can work a flexible schedule in a home office is what draws them to this role.

Still others may like the idea of becoming a contract paralegal because they feel fed up with the stress of the law firm grind and want to protect their personal wellness. Doing contract work can also give them an opportunity to walk away from traditional employment and explore other areas of specialization, or routinely change work environments.

While becoming a contract paralegal can open the door to a more worker-friendly setting, perhaps the greatest benefit is that it offers those with an entrepreneurial bent a platform for becoming their own boss and a business owner.

(Almost) everyone is doing it

(Almost) everyone is doing it.

Many experienced legal professionals have—at some point—felt tempted to leave the conventional workforce and strike out on their own. In fact, according to a recent survey, nearly one-third of employees polled indicated they left their jobs specifically to start a business.

Online technology makes it easier than ever for talented paralegals to do this because it equips them with resources only the deep pockets of established companies could once afford, such as:

  • Free professional websites from providers such as WordPress and Wix.
  • Free marketing on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms.
  • Fast paperless payment via online payment platforms that handle business payables and receivables digitally.
  • Billable work that can be performed online through a litigation support service provider’s portal including, eFiling, service of process, document retrieval, and more. The portal allows paralegals to access the tools and data they need to perform these tasks from anywhere Internet access is available.

You’re a good deal for law firms

You’re a good deal for law firms

It’s fair to say that in some cases contract paralegals may help a law firm run leaner. The firm simply pays the contract paralegal an agreed upon wage and doesn’t have to bother with the additional cost of a benefits package, payroll taxes, or equipment and workspace.

In contrast, the expense of recruiting and onboarding a traditional hire can amount to a costly game of roulette, averaging about $4,700 in 2022.

That’s $4,700 paid for each new hire, regardless of whether the employee flops after two days or stays until retirement.

The expense of employer-paid taxes and employee benefits also inflates the cost of hiring a traditional, office-based paralegal. Those “hidden” payroll expenses can increase the all-in price tag to 1.25 to 1.4 times the employee’s salary.

Through the eyes of a law firm’s CFO here’s how that looks:

Hiring a paralegal as a full-time employee at an annual salary of $70,000
will actually cost a firm a benefitted salary of $87,500 to $98,000

Speaking of money

Speaking of money

California has more paralegal jobs than any other state. The salary range can vary widely depending on factors that include practice specialty, firm size, and professional experience.

According to, the average hourly wage for a contract paralegal in California is $34.15 per hour. Narrowing the focus to specific metropolitan areas, we see the average hourly wage in San Francisco is $38.50; in Los Angeles $34.56; in San Diego $33.75; and in San Bernardino $31.64.

Those figures offer an incomplete picture of actual earnings for contract paralegals working in the state, however, and don’t account for what experienced, highly-skilled paralegals can earn.

For example, one veteran California paralegal reportedly began her contract with a firm charging $75.00 per hour for probate work. That figure soon rose to $115.00 per hour.

The key to finding such lofty earnings, it seems, is to find a niche where you’ll be paid for your subject matter expertise.

Test yourself

By now you may be feeling pretty good about becoming a contract paralegal. However, before you turn in your resignation and hang your shingle, make sure you can check the following boxes.

Can you live without employer-sponsored benefits?

Some of the most affordable non-employer sponsored insurance programs are HMOs or programs with only a limited number of physicians that may not include your primary care provider.

Are you entrepreneurial?

Unless a throng of law firms is already knocking at your door, you’ll most likely need to market yourself to pull in leads and close business. Most successful entrepreneurs are also competent networkers, so if you’re a wallflower or an introvert consider whether those traits may hold you back.

Are you a good administrator?

You’ll have to pay self-employment taxes and track expenses, so good follow-up and follow-through is a must. You can outsource these tasks to a bookkeeper or accountant but doing so will cut into your earnings.

Can you prove your value to an attorney?

You may think you’re being productive, but you’ll need to prove it. Finding that proof may mean you have to examine invoice data and crunch the numbers to determine how your presence has increased the firm’s billing.

Can you build rapport with the law firm staff?

A full spectrum of personalities inhabits the legal profession. A successful contract paralegal must be prepared to work with them all – at the office and from home.

Are you up to speed with the technologies law firms use?

Regardless of whether it’s trial presentation software or office management software, your skills must be sharp, and you must understand the practice’s preferred tech stack. Remember, part of the contract paralegal’s appeal is that they should require minimal training.

Who’s on your litigation support service provider shortlist?

Be sure you have a vendor that can provide customer and court references. Your preferred vendor should also provide eFiling in every California court that offers eFiling in addition to the electronic and physical services you need most from a single customer portal. You’ll also need to know how to interview a vendor for eFiling and service of process.

Find your gig

Find your gig

Once you make the transition to contract work, you’ll want to fill your client book quickly. Niche practice areas can help you do that because they offer some of the best opportunities for skilled contract paralegals. Here are several areas to target:

Litigation: A successful contract paralegal in the litigation setting may be one who can write specific types of pleadings or who excels at drafting motions.

Estate planning: Many estate planning attorneys prefer to outsource probates to contract paralegals because they are time-consuming. And, oftentimes, the attorney’s staff does not have the training to complete probates properly. Therefore, contract paralegals who are particularly good at probate-related work may find opportunities in this specialty.

Small firms or solo practitioners: Smaller law offices simply may not have the resources to hire a full-time paralegal. But, by having you handle overflow or administrative tasks, you free up the attorney’s time to devote to billable hours.

Real Property Law: You’re unlikely to become bored in real property law. This type of practice requires many different tasks associated with due diligence and often demands interaction with multiple parties. It is fast-paced and can demand long hours as well as weekend work to close transactions on schedule.

Weekends and evenings: Being able to work outside of regular office hours may give you a leg up as a contract paralegal. This type of schedule flexibility may make you attractive especially to law firms that work on deadline-driven projects such as mergers and acquisitions, real property law, and government projects.

Get your wings

Get your wings

Still wondering whether becoming a contract paralegal is the right move? There’s only one way to know whether the idea will fly.

But, before you cut the cord as a fully employed paralegal, assess your suitability carefully. If you have lingering questions or difficulty finding answers, approach your peers at association meetings or look to professional organizations that serve paralegals.

California has the largest court system in the country, which means that if you’re determined to find your own success as a contract paralegal, you’ve come to the right place.