Hiring a paralegal to assist with various legal tasks is a common practice for law firms. Paralegals can help with a range of administrative duties, from gathering evidence and researching cases to drafting documents and improving the client experience.
While paralegals are incredibly talented and provide a lot of value to a licensed attorney, bringing on a full-time employee may not fit the direction of some small law firms looking to improve profitability.
That’s where virtual paralegal services come in. In this guide, we’ll break down virtual paralegal services and how a remote virtual legal assistant increases productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction.
What is a Virtual Paralegal?
It’s important to first understand virtual assistants, who are usually employed as independent contractors. They provide support in several areas, from technical needs to administrative duties and everything in between.
A virtual paralegal offers the same type of support but under the supervision of a lawyer, acting in the same capacity as an in-house paralegal, but conducting tasks remotely.
So why should you outsource legal assistant? They can reduce an attorney’s workload by taking on day-to-day tasks, like preparing form pleadings, filing important documents, and developing correspondence.
Ultimately, a virtual paralegal who is trained in legal responsibilities helps to save your law firm time and your client’s money by:
- Combining the duties of a virtual assistant and a paralegal
- Supporting attorneys with various legal services
- Operating remotely
7 Reasons Why Your Law Firm Should Utilize a Virtual Paralegal Service
Working with a legal call center or hiring lawyer receptionist service can seem like a daunting task to undertake, especially since there will typically be sensitive legal documents and client information involved. That said, a virtual paralegal service or a remote legal assistant can be an excellent avenue to delegate certain tasks and free up more of your time.
One of the biggest benefits of utilizing a virtual paralegal service is the fact you only need to pay for the amount of time their services are needed. Additionally, you can reduce overhead costs that are typically associated with taking on a full-time employee—think of things like payroll taxes, vacation time, and health insurance.
Here are seven reasons why your law firm should utilize a virtual paralegal service:
- #1 Become more productive – From balancing client needs to conducting more efficient meetings, a virtual paralegal helps keep you on task, covers administrative duties, and moves things forward.
- #2 Access an incredible talent community – Since you don’t have to keep your search within a certain geographic area, you can access a global talent pool, which will increase the chances of hiring a top-notch virtual paralegal.
- #3 Get legal professional assistance – Utilizing the right virtual paralegal service will ensure you get access to someone with the right education, knowledge, and previous experience needed to excel at your law firm.
- #4 Increase your client experience – Making your clients happy is key, and a virtual paralegal contributes to a better client experience by booking appointments, answering phone calls, and responding to emails so your firm functions efficiently.
- #5 Have better client coordination – Balancing multiple clients and their individual needs can be a challenge, and an experienced paralegal can help coordinate those crucial needs with scheduling and reminders
- #6 Generate more time – When a virtual paralegal takes all of the administrative duties off of your plate, you can focus on case preparation, research, and fulfilling client obligations.
- #7 Cost savings – A virtual assistant that offers legal support is already going to have their own equipment and supplies, and you don’t have to worry about health insurance, vacation time, or payroll taxes.
Tasks a Paralegal Virtual Assistant Can Provide a Law Firm
Your law firm might be exploring hiring a virtual paralegal. But what are the actual tasks they can take on and what are the virtual assistant law firm benefits? Is there anything that a virtual paralegal can’t do for you?
These are all good questions to ask as some law firms are going to have different needs and requirements compared to others. There’s also a worldwide shift from a modern office setting to more hybrid work arrangements, so understanding how this might work is beneficial.
A paralegal virtual assistant can provide the following administrative services to a law firm:
- Supervising calendars – Virtual paralegals can ensure that you have appointments and meetings scheduled and stay on top of important deadlines and court dates.
- Managing emails – An assistant can ensure that your emails are properly organized and sorted and notify partners of correspondence as it happens and when it’s needed.
- Organizing files – Losing or misplacing a document can create inefficiencies within a law firm. To that end, a paralegal virtual assistant is able to organize your filing system to ensure that it’s accessible to all staff members.
- Accounting and bookkeeping needs – When you’re busy taking care of legal matters and fulfilling client needs, it can be difficult to stay on top of the financial areas. A virtual paralegal has this covered to ensure you’re staying on top of your affairs.
- Answering phone calls and responding to inquiries – When a virtual paralegal handles any new inquiries and answers phone calls, your law firm can ensure that you don’t miss important information and stay on top of leads.
In addition to administrative tasks, virtual paralegals can also take on various legal responsibilities such as:
- Helping with pre-trial preparations – This can include areas such as drafting contracts, writing reports, or preparing documents like statements and affidavits.
- Conducting research – In-depth research on a client or case can be tedious and time-consuming. Virtual paralegals can save partners valuable time and help prepare for a case.
- Recording and transcribing interviews – A virtual paralegal can ensure any relevant client interviews, proceedings, or depositions are transcribed effectively with the right legal terminologies.
- E-filing – It can be time-consuming to take on e-filing yourself. Once a motion gets signed and completed, a virtual paralegal can immediately file.
- Drafting contracts – Virtual paralegals can draft contracts when provided with the relevant and necessary details.
What’s the Difference Between Virtual and In-Person Paralegals?
The biggest difference between a virtual and in-person paralegal is that one is strictly utilized on a remote basis while one is a regular employee, typically at a physical law office.
- In-person paralegal – An in-person paralegal gets hired by a law firm or office, a governmental agency, or a corporation that requires their services and expertise.
- Virtual paralegal – While a virtual paralegal can get hired by the same types of employers, they’re typically hired as independent contractors or freelancers. Plus, they can get hired to work on a per-project basis where needed.
Even though there are some differences, both virtual and in-person paralegals require similar things. For example, both must get supervised by licensed lawyers who need to review and approve their work. Neither a virtual nor an in-person paralegal can provide their knowledge or services to the public as well.
How to Choose the Virtual Paralegal Services that Are Right for Your Law Firm
While hiring a virtual paralegal removes the overhead costs associated with a full-time employee, it’s still important to try and onboard them through a similar hiring process.
This lets you set expectations and ensure who you’re hiring understands the needs of your law firm. Below are some of the primary ways to help select the right candidate.
#1 Make Sure They Fit Your Work Style
If you’re the one who has been managing administrative tasks, it’s important to know that you’re delegating to someone who fits with your work style. This is going to help the transition go smoother and contribute to them being successful.
#2 Explore Potential Virtual Paralegal Services Thoroughly
Since you’re going to have access to a very broad talent pool, narrowing down the potential candidates is important to ensure you have the best options. Ask for references if needed and take a look into their previous work experience.
Here is a list of a few key qualities you should be on the lookout for:
- Legal research skills
- Experience with technology
- Communication and writing skills
- Work experiences that are relevant to your law practice
- Willingness to learn and adapt to your work style
#3 Break Down the Services Your Law Firm Needs
One of the benefits of having a virtual assistant law firm relationship is that they only work when you need them to. Put some thought into the exact services you’re going to need assistance with, like any non-billable work or administrative tasks.
A virtual paralegal will contribute to routine tasks like managing client communication, billing clients, and managing documents, but what else might you need? Establishing these details early on will benefit everyone involved.
#4 Set Clear Expectations
The more transparency from the beginning, the better. You can avoid any miscommunication and ensure your virtual paralegal delivers exactly what is needed. To make things as clear as possible, it can be beneficial to have some type of agreement or contract that outlines expectations.
Here are a few specifics you could include:
- Communication style – Outline your preferred way of communicating, such as through email, with regular check-ins, over a video call, or even a combination of mediums.
- Processes – Since some law firms will work differently compared to others, outlining the processes of your firm will allow for seamless workflow and a better understanding of how things get done.
- Management – Take some time to onboard your virtual paralegal to ensure they know how tasks get delegated, when updates are required and how often, and whether you use a project management system.
Let Alert Take Your Paralegal Services to the Next Level
There are elements of your law firm that require your complete attention, and utilizing a virtual paralegal service can help free up valuable time and save your clients money.
It might seem like hiring a virtual paralegal is a time-consuming and tedious task, but Alert can help capture every lead, convert the right cases, and grow your law firm’s revenue.
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20four7VA. 15 Tasks a Virtual Legal Assistant Can Do for You. https://20four7va.com/client-tips/virtual-legal-assistant/
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Datafloq. Why Law Firms Hire Virtual Paralegals? https://datafloq.com/read/why-law-firms-hire-virtual-paralegals/