A knowledgeable, reliable, and smart administrative assistant can be the key to making your life as an attorney much simpler and more efficient. And now, with the increasing ease with which we can communicate and share information online, virtual legal assistants are becoming an appealing and affordable alternative for many law firms, both large and small.
What is a virtual assistant?
Virtual assistants (VAs) are paralegals or administrative assistants that perform work for you offsite. The work is then delivered to you via email or shared with you using an online platform or service.
VAs can assist you with:
- administrative work, such as typing, document preparation or billing
- updating your online presence, including your website and social media accounts
- locating ideas for blog posts, and reviewing and editing blog posts before they are published
- depending on the VA’s skill set, legal research
Locating a qualified virtual assistant
Locating a qualified VA may seem like an onerous task, but it doesn’t have to be. As is the case with any hiring decision, word of mouth is always one of the best ways to obtain referrals. Ask other lawyers, both local attorneys and those with whom you interact online, for recommendations.
Internet searches are another option. While searching for a virtual assistant, you’ll discover that many legal VAs publish blogs. Reading through their blog posts is a great way to get a sense of their skills, analytical thought processes and personality.
Twitter is also a very useful resource. There are a good number of legal VAs on Twitter and following them and interacting with them will allow you to “get to know them” before engaging their services.
Although most VAs are independent contractors, it is important to clarify the terms under which you are engaging the VA’s services. Edward Poll’s blog post from the ABA’s “Law Practice Today” provides a thorough analysis of these issues that you should consider when engaging the services of a VA. The bottom line: for any number of reasons, you should ensure that the VA is performing work as an independent contractor.
For additional information regarding VAs, check out this helpful blog post from Lawyerist, written by Erin Blaske: “Virtual Assistant for Your Law Practice.”