Do You Need a Virtual Assistant?

Would you like to spend more time practising law and growing your business and less time attending to mundane administrative chores? Hiring a virtual assistant may be just the thing to ease your personal workload and get some order back in your work life.

There’s no doubt about it – the business of law is becoming more virtual. So it’s no surprise that the demand for virtual assistants with an array of competencies and skills is on the rise. Many firms across the globe are discovering that a VA could be a cost-effective answer to their firm’s productivity woes.

The benefits of hiring a virtual assistant

Hiring a full-time, on-site employee isn’t always an option for small businesses, even when a significant portion of fee-earner time is being consumed with delegable routine tasks. The financial expense and pressure to keep him or her busy can be prohibitive, not to mention the recruitment and hiring merry-go-round.

On the other hand, the virtual model opens up an array of benefits for small practices.

  1. Less cost: VAs are generally freelancers, meaning you only pay for what you need and you don’t have to worry about tax, holiday pay or sick leave. Since they work from home, you avoid the cost of acquiring or maintaining additional office space, computer equipment and stationery.
  2. Less commitment: Firms who only need periodic support on an ad-hoc basis can hire someone with a specific skill set for a particular project, without the ongoing commitment of an employee.
  3. More flexibility: A VA can be sourced from Australia or overseas through online agencies such as Upwork, Elance and Virtually Yours. Foreign VAs generally offer cheaper rates and staggered time zones, which means you can have a VA typing up your dictation while you sleep.
  4. More options: VAs come with a wide range of skills. They can perform general administrative tasks such as answering phones, transcription, word processing, data entry, email, appointments, research and travel bookings, or more specialist tasks such as bookkeeping, wages or social media marketing.

The challenges

Obviously, not having your assistant with you physically can present logistical challenges. For example, they can’t make tea for clients or take your coat to the dry cleaners. Micromanagers may also find it difficult to allow a VA to work autonomously without checking in too often.

Finally, confidentiality will need to be discussed to ensure satisfactory measures will be taken to safely store and handle sensitive information. Confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements may be required.
What do I need to hire a virtual assistant?

Depending on what type of work your VA will be doing, all you should need to get started is email and Skype.

If your VA will be transcribing, you may need to invest in a program that records files in electronic format that can be shared via email or Dropbox. You might also consider setting up encrypted remote user access to enable your VA to access and save to your firm’s database of files and use the firm’s software.

Hiring a virtual assistant may be outside the box, but it’s not uncharted territory. Explore this territory and see how a virtual assistant could add value to your business.

Stacey Leeke is a litigation lawyer and freelance writer with a background in professional indemnity and insolvency law practice. She has over nine years experience in the legal industry in both Australia and Canada.

Stacey currently writes for a number of online and print based publications, specialising in analytical critiques on new developments in the law as well as commentaries on current industry trends and best practice.

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