No matter what type of law you practice, there are a million little details that need to be handled on a daily basis. From filing documents to drafting contracts to scheduling meetings, most of these tasks could be delegated to an assistant. Traditionally, this has involved bringing legal assistants on staff and into your office. While this gets the job done, hiring and recruiting these assistants creates a whole new set of tasks that someone will have to handle. For law firms looking for qualified, efficient and affordable support, virtual assistants are an excellent choice.
Traditional or virtual assistants
Some tasks require a traditional on-site assistant. Drop off, for example, will require someone to be physically in your office. An assistant who serves as a receptionist, greets customers and receives deliveries, is another example of someone who needs to be on hand. Businesses that already have these staffing needs may find it more efficient to augment on-site staff to handle all the administrative and legal support work. Before going this route, consider the disadvantages of traditional assistants.
Obviously, local employees should be geographically close to your office. This limits the pool of people you can hire from, thereby limiting the number of talented people you can select from. Virtual assistants work remotely, which means they can be located anywhere in the world. This greatly expands the pool of talent you can hire from, giving you a greater opportunity to find experienced, proven people who meet your business needs.
On-site employees also require a long list of on-site resources, which means expenses that the company must bear in addition to financial compensation. An office space, a desk, a computer and a telephone will be the minimum in terms of resources for the employees on site. You may also need to provide parking, which can often be expensive. Finally, expenses such as health care, vacation pay, and taxes can quickly add up for traditional assistants. Virtual assistants do not require any of these resources. As remote workers, they provide their own equipment, with task management software being the only resource the company usually has to provide. Additionally, they are normally part-time contractors, which eliminates many of the expenses associated with on-site assistants.
A final consideration is how an on-site employee can affect office dynamics. Corporate culture is a business buzzword that cannot be ignored, regardless of the area in which an organization operates. Employees are looking for more than a paycheck when committing to a position; they want a positive work experience. This requires special consideration when hiring an employee who will be introduced to the local work environment. On-site employees need more than skills; they must adapt to the culture of the company. Failure to address culture issues leads to increased employee turnover rates. With virtual assistants, office dynamics issues are virtually non-existent.
For businesses considering hiring their first virtual assistant, the logistics can be confusing. Common questions revolve around how to keep these new employees informed, clearly communicate tasks and expectations, and ensure offsite employees are honest about time spent and work done. These are valid concerns, but they can all be adequately addressed. The shift to remote work imposed on businesses by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the development of new technologies and methodologies that enable remote work to be performed effectively and efficiently with as much remote monitoring as a business l ‘required.
How to Prepare for a Virtual Assistant
Traditional assistants typically spend 40 or more hours per week onsite and are expected to perform a wide range of tasks, some of which may change over time. The work given to virtual assistants will be more task-oriented. This may require a different type of pre-hire preparation than your company is used to. A good starting point is to define the tasks that the virtual assistant will have to perform.
Common tasks virtual assistants can handle for law firms include:
- Search for subjects or individuals,
- Monitoring of targeted social media accounts,
- Data entry,
- Phone reminders,
- Scheduling and confirmation of client appointments,
- Processing of e-mails (especially those that do not require confidentiality),
- Proofreading and editing,
- Trip Planning,
- CRM and software updates, and
- Management of accounts payable and receivable.
When transitioning to virtual assistants, it’s worth keeping in mind the financial efficiencies they can help your business achieve. Even though a targeted virtual assistant’s hourly rate is higher than the normal pay rate for on-site support staff, the overall expenses will often be lower due to a higher level of efficiency. A virtual assistant hired for a specific task can achieve your goals faster and deliver higher quality work through greater focus and expertise.
Once the tasks have been determined, the next step is to determine:
- Work’s extent,
- Required Skills,
- Availability required,
- Technology required,
- Project duration,
- Training needs, and
- Workflow process.
Where to find a virtual assistant
There are a wide variety of companies that can help you connect with virtual assistants, but the degree of support they provide you in your search varies greatly.
As the CEO of a global company that has helped over 1,000 organizations connect with virtual assistants, my recommendation is that you avoid the types of sites that simply connect employers with freelancers and instead seek out established companies that specialize in industry-specific virtual assistants.
Upwork is an example of a site that allows businesses that need virtual assistants to connect with freelancers, such as social media managers, proofreaders, or accountants. Upwork lets you post a job ad, which freelancers respond to. While Upwork will show you the ratings freelancers have received from past work, that leaves you with the ultimate responsibility of discerning if the person is a smart hire.
A better course for securing a virtual assistant will involve partnering with a company that has a proven process to help you identify, secure, and manage virtual assistants.
To Cyberbacker, we partner with companies who are looking for talented and proven specialists who have the skills to complete the necessary tasks and facilitate the growth of the company. Cyberbacker’s process helps companies determine their exact needs, creating a perfect job description for the position. This helps companies maximize the full potential of their future assistant. Cyberbacker then provides a pool of people who we know are qualified for the job. Once companies have selected their virtual assistant, we continue to work with them, providing training if needed and helping them find alternate talent if the relationship doesn’t work out as expected.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about technological advancements that have made it easier than ever to manage and benefit from the work of virtual assistants. Modern law firms are required to perform a litany of tasks that do not require the expertise of an attorney and do not require a full-time commitment. Now is the time to start exploring the world of virtual assistants. The remote team that can help take your business to the next level may be just a click away.
Craig Goodliffe is the CEO of Cyberbacker. Launched in January 2018, Cyberbacker is a remote working company, currently providing online services to more than 1000 companies around the world. Goodliffe decided to launch the Cyberbacker franchise with the aim of reducing global poverty on a larger scale.