Do you want to spend more of your time practicing law and less time repeating necessary but boring tasks?
Hiring a virtual assistant can help you reduce your personal workload in a cost-effective way.
Virtual assistants can do the tasks you don’t want to do (but need to). and often they can bring their own expertise to the table to help you optimize your practice.
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant or VA has the job of helping you with specific office tasks that one can complete via the web. The tasks a VA does can be incredibly specific or broad. A VA can do only your bookkeeping once a month or assume the role of an Internet-based part-time employee.
You can get an inexpensive VA based abroad or more expensive VAs in your country. VAs based abroad can be inexpensive and effective at completing administrative tasks, while more specialized VAs based in your country (awake when you are awake) can help you with more complex tasks.
Some people are concerned with trusting a VA, and this is something that needs to be addressed before you hire a VA. Many VA services like Zirtual, Odesk, Elance, and Fancy Hands make sure they are accountable because without trust their businesses fail.
So let’s look at some tasks that are easy to outsource to a VA:
What to Outsource
Bookkeeping is one of those things that are necessary but boring and time consuming. Since these tasks are systematic and repetitive, a VA can do them well. Many VAs have bookkeeping experience, so these tasks are not a huge challenge. Some things VAs can do:
- Invoice clients
- Pay your bills
- Bank reconciliations with your cloud accounting software
- Keep track of your accounts payable and receivables
- Renew your bar association dues
- Remind you when it’s time to pay bills (if you want to pay your own bills)
There are services dedicated to outsourced phone answering. Folks like Ruby Receptionist and My Receptionist answer and screen your incoming calls. Though I have not had personal experience with either, I have heard plenty of people rave about the quality Ruby provides.
Social Media Marketing
You don’t have time to Tweet, Like, and Follow people. A lot of VAs have experience in social media marketing. VAs can promote you to an audience and manage your social accounts.
One of the most-common things VAs do for clients is help them with inbox management. Once you give them access to your email, they can sort and organize your inbox. Your bar-related emails can go to a specific folder. Listserv emails, prospective clients, and existing clients can go to others. VAs can prioritize your emails so you can spend less time scouring for the most relevant emails and answer the most important ones first. They may also be able to email prospective and current clients to set up appointments and answer basic questions like directions to your office.
Manage Your Calendar and Set Meetings
VAs can set appointments with clients and manage your schedule. VAs can set up client meetings by looking up your schedule and adding the appointments to your calendar. Saves you time from having to email back-and-forth with a client to find a suitable time (though I prefer to automate this completely with ScheduleOnce).
Do you usually take notes by hand? Scan and send them to your VA to have them typed up and saved in a client’s folder on your hard drive.
You don’t need to spend hours researching the best hotels and flights when you have a VA handy. They can find the best hotel for your budget and get you a flight within the time window you’re looking for.
Cost Savings Calculations
You may be hesitant to start outsourcing, so let’s find out if the numbers add up. Look at it this way:
- How much do you charge per hour?
- How many likely billable hours are you losing by working on administrative tasks? (Keeping in mind you probably won’t have enough business to occupy all your time)
- How much would it cost to have a VA do the tasks you currently have to?
- What is the difference between your potential earnings and the cost of a VA?
That’s a straight calculation. But, it may be that you don’t have enough work to fill all your time. And that’s fine. It doesn’t have to be an economic equation to justify – You may just want to pay someone to do your administrative tasks so you can have more free time to enjoy life.
Before Hiring a Virtual Assistant
Make sure you can pay for the VA’s services. Don’t assume they will generate positive ROI from Day 1. Also, to make them adjust to the role more quickly and hit the ground running, document your processes as best possible (I recommend using Process.st) so they can follow and repeat your required tasks.
Good luck. We’re all counting on you.
Image via Thanh Trúc Phạm / Flickr.