Lawyers can spend more time practicing law and less time worrying about turnover among their support and administrative staff, court deadlines, and billable hours. A virtual assistant (VA) is a great weapon that many law firms are using in their practices.
Technology has made it possible for VAs to become viable and efficient solutions for law firms. As VAs work on various projects with in-house teams, they become more familiar with the specific practice while contributing to the firm’s success. VAs are able to assist and supplement the legal administrative team in a variety of capacities.
How can VAs support and add value to a legal practice?
1. Legal Assistant Support – VAs can bolster an administrative team by managing the client intake processes. Depending upon the firm’s needs, a VA can utilize a virtual telephone system or online chat as the first line of customer service to communicate with potential clients about their cases. This type of service is beneficial to personal injury attorneys who handle product liability, pharmaceutical and medical device injury cases. For legal firms who manage class action suits, VAs can manage your client follow-up, as well as client questionnaire completion. For example, VAs are a great resource to ensure the accuracy and completion of Plaintiff Fact Sheets.
2. Marketing Assistance – Using a VA can be an integral component to a strategic growth plan. They can conduct competitive research and marketing analysis using a variety of online tools to gain key insights about other legal firms and competitors. VAs can implement a Social Media marketing campaign for a firm, ranging from researching, compiling, and creating digital content for a firm’s website to the implementation of content throughout the firm’s social media channels.
3. Outsourced Incorporation Services – For corporate and business litigators, a VA can manage the incorporation and business formation tasks for the firm and clients, including:
- Preparing of business formation documents, such as Certification of Incorporation or other ancillary corporate documents
- Obtaining employer identification numbers with the IRS
- Filing of the corporation documents with the appropriate government agencies
4. Legal Billing – Outsourcing legal billing functions to a VA is a great way to stay efficient and to ensure timely and accurate billing for clients. VAs can utilize the existing billing software to capture the firm’s billable hours and sending invoices to clients.
5. Cost Savings – Integrating a VA into a legal support team will enable the attorneys to focus on the practice of law and revenue generation. When working with a VA, your firm can cut administrative and personnel expenses, such as health and benefits, FICA, worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, and office expenses. Most VAs work on a W-9 basis as freelancers
VAs add value-they are an additional resource for legal firms during crunch times. VAs can assist firms to meet court deadlines or when there is a staff crunch. A VA can jump in and serve as an extra set of hands as firms go through the hiring functions of adding new staff and in some cases during downsizing.
Working with a VA
If your firm is considering securing the services of a VA, consider and clearly document the number and nature of tasks to outsource. In retaining a VA, ensure that they provide references from current or past clients.
The VA contract or service agreement should outline processes and procedures, turnaround times, and billing and payment terms. Before the work commences, there should also be a confidentiality agreement between the firm and VA.
Engage a VA today to increase your firm’s productivity while allowing your in-house staff to focus on revenue generating tasks and law
Chantal Towles is President of Creative Business Assistants. (CBA)
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