October 17, 2019 Articles

Could Your Firm Benefit from Having a Virtual Assistant?

While having a solo law firm has its advantages, it does mean the attorney is responsible for all aspects of the business. But there is help.

By Lisa Tenerowicz

Administrative work, marketing, and customer service can monopolize the day. Rather than building the practice and preparing cases, time is spent handling the day to day tasks required to support the firm. Hiring someone in-house can be cost prohibitive for a solo practice, and even if it is an option, would it make financial sense? Paying someone to be available all day when you only need help now and then can strain the budget. Maybe it’s time to consider a virtual assistant.

What is a Virtual Assistant?

A virtual assistant (VA) provides professional support remotely from a home office. They are able to assist with a variety of administrative, technical, and creative tasks all while working from anywhere. You get the help you need while saving on resources like office space, supplies, and benefits.

Benefits to Having a VA

Virtual assistants only charge for work being done. This is good for the firm’s budget, but it also allows for complete customization. Each practice will require a different level of work to be done, and a VA can meet individual needs. Payment options include paying by the hour for projects and one-time tasks, or if there is a steady flow of work, a firm can retain services with monthly price packages. Either way, time opens up to devote to the practice.

What can a VA do for a small law firm? The list is endless—a VA can do just about anything you need. Tasks commonly outsourced are:

  • answering phones;
  • scheduling appointments;
  • making follow up calls;
  • transcribing;
  • managing email;
  • making travel arrangements;
  • creating and maintaining your CRM;
  • bookkeeping;
  • designing and maintaining your website; and
  • managing marketing campaigns and social media posts.

Kate Lawrence, of Lawrence Law, LLC in Baltimore, Maryland, recently shared her experience using a virtual assistant for her small firm. When asked what technology she uses to give her a competitive edge, she responded, "It doesn't qualify as technology, necessarily, but my VA schedules all my meetings and it helps me stay on track with my meeting goals. It gives me time to focus on what I do best."

Ready to Hire?

  • Do some research. There are many kinds of virtual assistants, and it’s important to find the right fit to suit your needs. If you have one or two smaller tasks, hiring an individual is fine, but consider hiring a team if help is needed with a variety of things. A full-service team can do everything from answering phones to building a website and only charges for the hours required to complete the work.
  • Set expectations. Once the VA is on board, be clear about what needs accomplished. Set up a timetable with clear expectations. Do not be afraid to schedule regular “check-in” calls so everyone stays on the same page.
  • Educate. Spend time training so that your virtual team understands your particular firm. Make sure they know the firm’s specialty, culture, and scheduling guidelines. It helps to share your habits, likes, and dislikes. Being open with your assistant will go a long way to building a strong working relationship.

Most lawyers, especially those running a small firm, can benefit from some assistance. Think about what can be delegated and how that will create more time to build the practice. Consider your goals and budget. Hiring a virtual assistant might be the perfect answer for a lawyer going solo. 

Lisa Tenerowicz is director of client services for VIP Services, LLC in Bel Air, Maryland.

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