When it comes to outsourcing in your law practice, the first nod is generally given to the administrative assistant or legal assistant who comes to work in your office. However, given the changing landscape for lawyers and law professionals, it’s the second nod that is starting to look much more appealing – the nod to the virtual assistant.
With the growing number of solo professionals, the need for marketing, administrative, social media, web and graphic services is increasing and the process of finding assistance for your business in this area can be overwhelming. Most solo professionals feel like they have to find a service provider in each of these task areas but what they may not know is that there are virtual assistance firms out there that offer all of these services and more.
What is a Virtual Assistant?
A virtual assistant (often called a VA) is a service provider or a group of service providers that provides administrative, Internet marketing, social media, website, graphic, legal and real estate services to businesses that want to outsource but don’t want to hire in-house staff.
Virtual assistants are business owners themselves and are responsible for their own taxes, expenses, equipment, etc. The service is provided on a business-to-business level.
Virtual assistants generally charge between $20-75 per hour (depending on skill set) and most charge on an hourly basis but some do package their services or charge a monthly, recurring retainer.
Where Can I Find a Virtual Assistant or a VA Firm?
Referrals – The best method of finding a virtual assistant or a VA firm is to ask your colleagues for a referral. If your colleagues do not use virtual assistants, there are a couple other options for you to consider.
Do a specific Google search – I recommend going to Google and typing in virtual assistant + keyword and looking through the websites of some of the results you get. The more specific you are with your keyword, the more specific the result. A keyword could be ‘Internet marketing’ or ‘social media’ or you could look for someone who works with a specific tool that you need them to use.
Put forth a call for RFPs – Many of the virtual assistant organizations have areas where you can submit RFPs to receive a response from many service providers. This process does require you to do a lot more research and sifting through results but it will provide you with a large number of them. Elance.com is also another place where you can post your project to receive multiple replies.
How Can I Use a Virtual Assistant in My Law Practice?
There are many ways that you can utilize the services of a virtual assistant in your practice. Here are just a few of those ways:
- Marketing Assistance – If you are responsible for marketing your own practice and finding clients, your virtual assistant can help you setup different marketing channels and monitor their success rates.
- Social Media Support – As more and more businesses take to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, you can have your virtual assistant manage your contacts and your communication via the social media networks. Although it is best to have messages come from your voice, you can utilize the power of these tools even when you are pressed for time.
- Website Updates – Being a solo professional means that you may not have an on-going website management and maintenance team. A virtual assistant, with the right skill set, can help you to keep your website up-to-date and fresh with new content.
- Blogging – You may have heard that you should be blogging but if you’re not yet, now is the perfect time! Your VA can not only write blog posts that are keyword rich (to help drive traffic to your website) but they can add appropriate images, keywords and categories to create an excellent resource center for your clients.
- Administrative Items – From scheduling to e-mail management to time tracking to invoicing, your virtual assistant can help you with many, many administrative items. The beauty is that you can turn over all of the day-to-day management to your VA and focus on what is important – your clients!
- Create Passive Revenue Streams – This may be something a lot of lawyers and law professionals don’t think about – passive revenue! Instead of trading your time for dollars, you could get into the business of creating and selling e-books, audio programs, etc. that help your clients with some of their common problems. Your virtual assistant can help you come up with the content, prepare it into a proper format and more!
There are literally hundreds of options available for outsourcing to a virtual assistant. One thing to keep in mind however is that every virtual assistant and virtual assistance firm will have different skill abilities and will provide different services.
How Do I Determine What to Delegate?
The best place to start is to look at your daily workload. What is taking you away from working on client work? What is taking you away from the billable time?
Make a list and prioritize them into the biggest time wasters. These top level items are the first things you should look at outsourcing to a virtual assistant.
For more information on delegating, here are a few free resources for you: