Being a lawyer means having a desk filled with cases, sleepless nights, and struggling with work-life balance. An attorney is there to help the little guy—to be a helping hand to those in need, but sometimes lawyers themselves need help too. Hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) ensures that you are able to focus on improving people’s lives and fight injustices without having to worry about the day-to-day mundane tasks of your firm.
A virtual assistant, as the name suggests, is someone you hire off-site to outsource your clerical and administrative responsibilities. For lawyers, this means less time with office tasks and more time spent assisting your clients.
Having doubts about hiring a Virtual Assistant? In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about VAs and the following:
- What a VA does at a law firm.
- 5 benefits of hiring a virtual assistant.
- Tips on where you can find quality VAs.
- How virtual assistants can help you with legal research.
Benefits of Having a Virtual Assistant for Attorneys
According to Yahoo Finance, the global VA market is expected to grow to upwards of $26 billion by 2027. But, why is this so? Here we discuss what VAs bring to the table and the following benefits of hiring one for your law firm:
Despite having one more person on your payroll, virtual assistants are actually a cost-effective way to get your firm organized and running smoothly. This is because VAs are effectively freelancers and not full employees, meaning that you can save money since:
- VAs don’t require expensive training costs.
- You are not responsible for their taxes, insurance, healthcare, and more.
- You pay by the hour using time-tracking software such as Clockify and Hubstaff.
However, it is still important that you pay your VAs fairly. According to Thomson Reuters, paying employees in a legal setting way less than their worth is cause for dissatisfaction. Always remember that VAs are an important and valuable cog in your firm, and must be treated as such.
Offloading Clerical Work
As a lawyer, you’re likely to get your hands full with cases at any given time. However, administrative tasks around the firm need tending too—and sometimes, you cannot afford to accomplish those by yourselves with your hectic schedule.
This is where a virtual assistant comes in and shines. You can task your VAs with the day-to-day agenda of your office such as:
- Scheduling: Law is a career that requires meticulous time management as you’re expected to meet with partners, clients, witnesses, judges, and the opposition, as well as your personal obligations. A virtual assistant can help you with planning your day to the minute using tools such as Google Calendar and Oncehub.
- Bookkeeping: Organizing finances is a time-consuming but essential task that deals with a myriad of variables. Anything less than pinpoint accuracy of your cash stream may lead to loss of money due to tax issues, unnecessary expenses, missed transactions, and even risk of fraud. You must guarantee that the money that cycles through your firm is well-spent and that all expenses are cataloged. Balancing your books can be a handful, which is why VAs with bookkeeping expertise are invaluable to a law firm.
- Productivity Reports: When you’re running a law firm, you’re not just an attorney—you are also a business owner. You must also know how well your law firm is performing and the improvement opportunities for your business. Moreover, you can also task a virtual assistant to write monthly reports that verify your operation is running smoothly.
To ensure that your firm is running optimally, it is important that you hire a proficient VA who has a lot of experience in these tasks. After all, a virtual assistant plays a crucial role in determining the overall efficiency of your law firm, which then reflects in its overall performance and how likely potential clients are to seek your help.
For more information about this topic, you can check out our article on therapist-entrepreneur Figs O’Sullivan and the importance of outsourcing administrative tasks.
Legal Research and Case Preparation
To win a case, you must be well-prepared for anything that the opposition throws at you. Legal research plays a huge role in allowing you to be highly adaptable and quick on your feet during arguments, which is a lawyer’s bread and butter.
However, you can’t be expected to do all the research alone, especially in big cases that involve multiple plaintiffs. Having a virtual assistant—even those without a legal background—goes a long way in case preparation, thus saving you time that could be spent on more critical legal tasks. General legal research tasks that a VA can perform include:
- Proofreading contracts.
- Cataloging legal documents.
- Data gathering and fact-checking.
- Creating visuals and presentations.
- Transcription of witness recordings.
Handling of Client Correspondence
One overlooked aspect of being a great lawyer is the relationship you build with your clients. After all, your clients are often anxious and scared, and they want someone to reassure them that everything’s going to be okay. As evidence of this, a study from the University of Cincinnati shows that only around 60% of surveyed clients are satisfied with the communication they have with their respective attorneys.
The study emphasizes that constant correspondence with a defender is important to a client, even if it’s only to give out timely updates about the case. However, from the perspective of a lawyer, you might find it difficult to balance your time between clients—but that doesn’t mean you don’t care about some of them.
Client correspondence using virtual assistants is a crucial tool in reassuring your clients. This way, even when you’re busy with other cases, your clients won’t feel abandoned and alone during a difficult time in their lives.
Boosting Your Digital Presence
As we mentioned earlier, law firms are also a business. Therefore, it is important that you also have a significant digital footprint to allow more potential clients to reach you. Creating a good digital marketing campaign is one way of achieving that.
Virtual assistants are essential to establishing your brand and growing your firm online. You can task a VA to spearhead your social media presence with video content creation, newsletters, graphics, SEO-friendly blogging, and more.
Where You Can Find Good Virtual Assistants
Once you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant, you can find good ones from companies such as Ajilon, BELAY, Boldly, or The Virtual Hub. However, there are also freelancing websites such as Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, and Onlinejobs.ph which are home to competent VA prospects for generally cheaper compensation levels.
This can’t be overstated enough: you must seek out the best candidate from your pool of applicants. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to just pick the applicant that asks for the lowest pay. Here are some important metrics you need to consider in order to weed out good from bad potential employees:
- Clerical and bookkeeping skills.
- Experience, especially in the legal business.
- Time management skills and their other current engagements.
- Soft skills such as camaraderie, creative & critical thinking, leadership, and more.
It’s also recommended that you field a good batch of interview questions to find out more about your potential VAs. To know what questions you should ask during the interview process, you can check out our article on it here.
The Bottom Line
Lawyers are often perfectionists, it may as well come with the job description. In fact, a report by Rocket Matter says that lawyers are 3.6 times more likely to be depressed than any other working adult. A report commissioned by the American Bar Association says that more than 61% of lawyers suffer from anxiety, 45% from depression, and 16% from social anxiety. Lawyers who weighed in on this problem cite overwork and inferior time management are to blame for this issue.
Work-life balance is an important aspect of your well-being and, consequently, job performance. The good news is: You don’t have to suffer with your job alone. Hiring a virtual assistant significantly reduces your workload around the firm. This way, you can help other people while having more time to allow yourself to wind down.
Disclaimer: The material above is written for general consumption and should not be considered, in any shape or form, as legal advice. Productivity Stacks is independent of any legal entities, individual or otherwise. Local laws must always be observed in hiring virtual assistants. Some VA tasks will involve being privy to sensitive information that is not authorized for public consumption. Reader discretion is always advised.