A legal office requires many different individuals, performing different tasks, to ensure that the practice runs smoothly. Someone needs to be there to answer phone calls and emails, perform administrative work, manage social media, and make sure all documents are ready for the lawyers.
Many lawyers, especially those working in small law firms, find themselves responsible for many of these tasks. This is not ideal since a lawyer should be studying case documents/information, or arguing their case in court.
For this reason, the use of Virtual Assistants (VAs) have become common. “The practice of using VAs first became commonplace in the real estate industry. Realtors who did not have the time to do administrative work such as setting appointments, chasing down leads, or responding to certain types of communications, ended up enlisting the services of online Virtual Assistance freelancers,” writes Hector Nunes, a business writer at Writinity. These individuals would take care of the aforementioned responsibilities leaving the Realtor to focus on those areas that make them money.
VA usage has become quite popular in the legal realm as well. One main issue many law firms have is that they do not know when to hire a VA and for what tasks. Below we will go over the basic answer to this question.
Tasks That Do Not Make Money
It is fairly simple to see which tasks are necessary for operational reasons but do not directly make money. For example, while it may be argued that answering phone calls and chasing down leads lead to money making practices, they do not directly create revenue. Revenue generating activities for a law firm include things like litigating in court, building cases, and studying documentation/reports. All the time a lawyer spends on other tasks is time they spend not being paid.
Without help, a lawyer can expect to spend hours studying documentation. In established law firms, assistants often pour over documentations and fact sheets so that they can compile reports of all important or relevant information for the legal team to use. These reports, although very important, require a great deal of time to create. Law firms have found great success using VAs to compile these reports.
Many types of reports and documents have become fairly standardized over the last few decades. Because of this, law firms have employed the use of specific software that generates standardized reports based on the entered information. The issue with this is that much time is spent on data entry tasks. Data entry is probably one of the biggest wastes of time for a lawyer to be performing. Using a VA for data entry is a no-brainer.
Talking With Clients
This is especially valuable for small law firms that may not have a large office or full time staff. The individual lawyers may be busy working and are not always able to answer the phone. If they can, they may not have the time to talk in any detail. Operating this way is not conducive to attracting new business. A common task performed by VAs is basic front-end operations like this.
“Freelance Legal Accountants can be found in many different places on the web. These are VAs who have experience in organizing a law firm’s finances and preparing the appropriate reports,” writes Mary Rey, a blogger at Draftbeyond. Not all financial reports have to be compiled by certified accountants. Many in-house reports can be done by legal VAs.
Tasks The Lawyer Does Not Want To Do
There does not have to be some grand reason behind hiring a virtual assistant for specific tasks. There are many tasks lawyers simply do not enjoy doing. These types of responsibilities can be left with experienced VAs.
Choosing what tasks can be effectively outsourced to a legal VA depends largely upon the exact conditions and needs of a law firm. VAs can be particularly useful for firms that are not large enough to have many staff members employed full time. A major benefit of VAs is that one can use them as much or as little as they require.