Other industries’ use of virtual assistants has been growing at a double-digit rate for a decade but law firms have been hesitant to embrace this national trend. Smaller firms and solo practitioners are more likely to be using remote resources than attorneys at large firms. Attorneys who have never worked with a remote staff are less than enthusiastic about virtual legal assistants (VLAs). Why is that?
It all comes down to fear of two words: “remote” and “virtual.” Attorneys who oversee everything from HR to accounting to IT to managing paralegals and assistants have little time left to do what they love – practice law. A change in perception can help attorneys leave their fear of remote assistance behind. Simply consider all paralegals and assistants as “staff” and leave the geography out of it.
After all, in today’s pandemic-focused era, geographical boundaries mean little. Now that you’ve reframed location, what other reasons could there be for not using VLAs?
The following chart lists some of attorneys’ most frequently mentioned reasons for not using VLAs as well as ways to overcome these fears.
|Fear||Short-term Tips||Longer-term Tips|
|Lack accountability||Build rapport by kicking off the relationship with a video call||Continue to nurture the relationship remembering that virtual assistants are human|
|Data security, confidentiality||Make it clear during onboarding the importance of passwords, antivirus software, operating system compatibility|
Use a high-volume scanner to digitize paper files
|Regularly share your written privacy and confidentiality policy with VLAs|
Consider secure cloud storage to minimize paper documents and grant editing privileges as necessary
|Disappearance of VLA||Communicate and check in more frequently||Contract with more than one VLA|
|Tasks not completed on time||Set deadlines up front, communicate as priorities change and check status daily||Use time and attendance software to see how time is being spent|
|New tasks not begun||Require a work kickoff confirmation on each task||Ensure your email recognizes virtual assistants to keep their communiques out your spam folder|
|Too many questions coming from VLA||Take more time to explain the task, process and value of the work when you assign the work||Check in when at a pre-arranged time to answer questions|
When it comes to finding a VLA, you can recruit from anywhere in the country. Rather than keeping extra legal assistants on the payroll year-round to staff demand peaks, use VLAs to supplement your staff as needed. Most VLAs work on an hourly basis, so you only pay for the time they work. Plus, virtual assistants do not require the infrastructure, technologies and benefits that full-time assistants do.
Using VLAs allows attorneys to delegate an entire process to a trusted source. For example, once a contract with a new client is signed, the VLA can execute all the “behind the scenes” onboarding tasks that take time but are not billable. VLAs can also execute, according to your approved process, document management, contract review and management, legal research and writing. The result can be improved operational efficiency across the organization.
Not only can VLAs help with case support, they can execute all those “high touch” efforts that make your law firm stand out. For example, they can send anniversary and birthday emails, announcements about upcoming firm-sponsored events, notices of charitable/pro bono work to your clients – something you and your staff simply don’t have time to do.
Legal accounting is another law firm operation that can benefit from using a VLA. Outsourcing the accounting function to a dedicated VLA ensures consistency and keeps the books up-to-date. As a result, managing attorneys, partners and team leads can check each attorney’s and staffer’s billability at any time, without waiting until month end.
Spending precious staff time on data entry will leave few hours for critical new business activity. If your firm’s growth is at risk because the talent you need to attract new clients is mired in data entry, consider delegating this critical, high-value task to VLAs with unlimited time.
In addition to VLAs, there is also an army of Virtual Paralegals (VPs) at the ready to help too. You can delegate the process of collecting and managing evidence for lawsuits, overflow client tasks and client contact (emails, calls and letters) to a VP as well.
A 2nd Chance Bail Bonds remains at the ready to assist you and your clients around the clock. We are in our offices every day to serve you personally, and we can also process bail bonds electronically.