Are you overwhelmed by all of the business tasks you must complete to run your practice? Do you believe that the only way to get something done right is to do it yourself? If you feel this way from time to time, you are definitely not alone. With all of the technological “help” you have at your fingertips to organize and run your law practice, why is it that so many of us fall into the trap of putting repeatable, mundane tasks on our critical “to do” list. Too many of us are spending precious time on tasks that can either be automated or delegated to a third party provider.
Did you know that for much less than you might realize, paralegals, intake specialists, accounting personnel and a variety of other essential people who help make your practice run smoothly can be hired on an independent contractor basis? Special part-time workers known as “VAs” or Virtual Assistants are becoming commonplace in today’s unplugged, technological world. VAs are not just for tech-savvy “lifestyle” entrepreneurs, they are available for anyone—especially attorneys—who need periodic help with time consuming tasks that can be handled fairly easily with minimum oversight.
The concept of outsourcing is not new in the legal industry, what is new is how easy it has become to create a virtual law office with contract help in India, the Philippines and other far flung locales to cost-effectively streamline the efficiency of your practice. Hiring help outside the US is known as “offshoring”. If for some reason you find this un-American or distasteful, hiring VAs from other states in the US offering a lower cost of living is another way to get the help you need while keeping a lid on costs.
Imagine being able to have someone manage your social media, organize and respond to non-critical email, manage your monthly newsletter, conduct tedious online research for a case or send out thank you cards. All of these tasks can be delegated to a Virtual Assistant which frees up your precious time to focus on your current clients and business development efforts.
The key to all of this is, of course, is all of the new technology that allows us to stay in contact with each other so easily and effortlessly. Skype, email, instant messaging and a host of other technology allows us to stay in contact with each other as if we are all sharing the same office space. There are even benefits to working with someone working in a different time zone where the VA can keep tabs on your practice while you sleep, for instance sending a friendly response to someone who filled out a form on your website late at night.
Cloud computing lets law firms increasingly outsource IT capability through software and services that are stored on and accessed through offsite servers, something that not only saves money but actually affords a level of security should there be a fire or break in. And, the number of cloud-based document management and assembly, practice management, accounting and billing programs for the legal industry continues to grow.
A few things to remember when hiring a VA or outsourcing in general:
1. Always interview the candidate, just because they are part time and not actually in your office does not mean that you can let your guard down on a new hire. Everyone affects your business!
2. Always make time to review your VA’s work. It is still your responsibility to ensure the final product of your law firm.
3. Create systems! Good systems lead to happy VAs and lawyers! Categorizing and streamlining your processes and tasks can save a lot of time and avoid costly mistakes in the long run.
If you consistently find yourself in a state of overwhelm it’s worth a look at getting some virtual help. You can start small with just a single project. Check out odesk.com or elance.com for more information on VAs and virtual online employees. It could change your practice and your life for the better.
P.S., if gaining new clients and building your practice is a priority for you this year, JurisLead can help through our lead generation services. Feel free to outsource your new client marketing to us!