Hard work is not new to Keith Slyter, a litigation paralegal living in Dallas, Texas. A native of Minnesota, Slyter grew up on a dairy farm in a small town called Rose Creek, somewhere near the Mayo Clinic. If it weren’t for the bitter winters and exhausting cold weather, he may still be there today.
Sylter’s childhood sounds like something right out of the idyllic American dream. This 43 year-old, easy-going guy with good core family values learned first-hand that if you want to reach your goals, you’re going to have to depend on yourself.
Moving to Texas and becoming a paralegal, Sylter moved through the usual litigation paralegal jobs until last year, he struck out on his own to open the first Mobile Paralegal Services business. An interesting and useful concept that I expect will turn out wildly successful.
As Slyter sought avenues to expand his career, a plan began to take shape. "What if I started a business for small and midsize firms to offer the services of a full-time paralegal without having to pay for a full-time paralegal?" says Slyter.
"As the plan developed, I came across a common problem of smaller firms: Where do you physically put the employees and how do you put them on the network? What if you had a mobile litigation command war room at trial? This could be a huge benefit.
Normally, you lease a war room. Wouldn’t it be great to have a mobile command center so you can get as close as you possibly can to the courthouse? A war room could normally be in a hotel maybe five blocks away. Now, I’m in the command center as close as we can get to the trial. I have a high speed copier , computer and office equipment. The work is right there."
Starting his business, Slyter has been an instant hit with obtaining much more work than he anticipated. "When the attorney is going back in to trial, you can be filing whatever documents you need. It saves time and money in getting the documents filed.”
Today, his growing business is steadily adding clients. His fees are all inclusive. There are no extra charges for copies, scanning or whatever else needs to be done. Up to 12 people can fit into in the mobile command center that is usually 40 feet long, 8 feet wide with the pop-up. Realistically, Sylter can comfortably hold six people on laptops. They can tie into the main server or operate off the network.
“I hire senior level paralegals with heavy litigation experience. It’s more than a contractor/temp agency because we’re offering the benefit of state-of-the-art technology,” he says.
Is he worried about competition? Not particularly. “I will out service them,” Slyter says confidently. “My service is where I will shine – on demand. The competition can under price us but in these situations, it’s all about service,” he says.
His entrepreneurial lifestyle has improved his family life. Married with two boys, 4 and 7, Slyter now gets more quality time with them. “After the boys go to bed, I can wake up at 2:00 am, get up and type it out. I’m there to pick up my boys in the afternoons. This whole scene has had such a positive effect on my family life that I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner,” Slyter says.
| As for the inevitable question of where do you want to be in five years? “I have to be working towards putting units into major markets, working with entrepreneurs and setting them up,” says Slyter.
For those thinking of making a transition to entrepreneur, Slyter has some words of wisdom. “Over plan,” he says. “Try to overfund it as much as possible with lots of reserves. Talk with a lot of your potential customers to see what the honest-to-goodness target market is. You need to get at least 5- 10 people you know who will tell you the truth. Ask for the business. Even before you start.”
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