Being an attorney can oftentimes be stressful and challenging. There’s so much to worry about when it comes to legal complexities, managing clients, and balancing the long hours that come with the territory of working in law. And that’s not necessarily taking into account all the administrative work, phone calls, emails, and thousands of paper documents that can come across your desk.
But surely there’s a way to help alleviate some of these tasks and responsibilities in order to focus on other valuable areas of your law firm, right?
Well, the good news is that you can outsource legal assistant tasks and responsibilities. We’re going to dive into how to outsource your legal assistants, some of the main legal tasks they can take on, and what to look for when bringing a legal assistant onto your team. You’ll have a much better sense of what a legal call center or legal assistant can offer you and all the information needed to make an informed decision.
What Is a Legal Assistant?
Have you ever wondered if there is an actual difference between a paralegal and a legal assistant? Both offer great value to law firms, yet they contribute towards different areas of the business.
A paralegal works under the supervision of an attorney, taking on tasks like developing correspondence, preparing form pleadings, and filing documents that are important.
A legal assistant also works under the supervision of an attorney, they tend to take on more of the administrative tasks to help free up an attorney’s time. Think of a virtual legal assistant as someone who supports a law firm by taking certain tasks and responsibilities off of a lawyer’s plate.
Some of the most common administrative tasks can include:
- Answering phone calls
- Responding to emails
- Greeting clients
- Responding to general questions about the law firm
- Setting meetings
- Coordinating schedules
- Scheduling interviews
- Making appointments
A few of the most common legal tasks can include:
- Conducting legal research
- Drafting legal documents
- Proofreading correspondence
- Sending and processing invoices
- Handling billing issues
- Organizing case documents
- Filing relevant legal documents
Again, these are just some of the most common tasks a legal assistant can take on. At the end of the day, it’s all going to depend on the specific needs of the lawyer or the law firm as a whole. Legal assistants can also support other members of the team where needed.
How to Outsource Your Legal Assistant Needs
Think about what happens on a daily basis throughout your law firm. There are likely many different people who are focusing on an array of different tasks to make sure everything runs efficiently.
But when your key players need to focus on client needs, prepare case documents, and come up with a strategy to argue their cases in court, who is looking after all the administrative work?
Step 1: Assess Your Business’s Needs
When thinking about what you might need to outsource to legal virtual assistants, start by exploring the tasks that make the firm money and contribute to growing revenue.
For example, some of the biggest revenue generators for any law firm include billable hours for building a case, litigating it in court, and reviewing the necessary documentation.
Now, take a look at some of the areas that don’t directly contribute to generating revenue, even though you might spend ample amounts of time on them. These can include:
- Conducting research – A legal assistant can thoroughly examine fact sheets and documentation and put together reports that are valuable. They can be very time-consuming to generate and having a legal assistant put them together can free up valuable time for the lawyers on the case.
- Entering data – This can often be one of the most tedious tasks to complete, and therefore one of the most time-consuming. But, it’s also one of the most important processes to complete accurately.
- Contract review – There can be multiple contracts on the go at any given moment. A legal assistant can help review and manage contracts to make processes more efficient.
While answering the phones, engaging with clients, and following up on leads can all generate revenue in the long run, it takes time to get there. So, you can also think about some of the administrative tasks you might currently complete yourself, and outsource them to a legal assistant.
These can include:
- Managing calendars to ensure meetings are set and appointments are scheduled
- Organizing files so nothing gets lost or misplaced
- Answering phone calls and responding to inquiries
- Organizing and sorting emails to stay on top of correspondence
- Completing any bookkeeping and accounting requirements
Basically, try and find all the tasks that don’t make your law firm money, take a long time to complete, or that are frustrating or you don’t do well. Delegating these responsibilities to a legal assistant can free up valuable time to focus on the things that require your undivided time and attention.
Step 2: Establish Your Budget
Hiring an outsourced legal assistant is an investment in your business. A legal assistant should help you spend less time on the small tasks and more time on the tasks that bring in revenue.
Take a look at your business’s finances but also keep in mind the money this investment could be bringing in in the long run:
- Calculate how many hours you spend on the tasks you want to outsource
- Figure out how many of those hours are potential billable hours
- Multiply that by your hourly rate (after all, you know what your worth)
The final amount is how much you could be investing back into your business, and a portion of that can go directly into outsourcing a legal assistant.
Step 3: Outreach
Now that you know what you need from a legal assistant and what your budget is for hiring, you’re better equipped to find the right fit for your organization. That means, you’re ready to start having conversations.
But how do find outsourcing agencies? Here are a few places to start:
- Review websites
- Google searches
Step 4: Interview
Once you’ve pinpointed a few outsourcers, it’s time to see who would be a good fit. Schedule interviews and come prepared with questions about their legal professional experience, services, and offerings.
What to Look for When Choosing a Legal Assistant
You now have a better sense as to what you’re going to delegate and outsource to a legal assistant, but how do you find the right person that will suit your needs?
How do you ensure you’re going to receive value and what do you need to look for?
Those are good questions to ask because there’s no sense in outsourcing to a legal assistant if they just end up making your life harder.
The best way to attract the most qualified help is to have a good system in place that outlines your expectations. From here, you can look for specific skills and qualities that you want a legal assistant to possess.
Some of these expectations, skills, and qualities can include:
- Having relevant, expert knowledge that coincides with your firm’s practice
- The ability to stay on for the duration that you require their services and have consistent availability
- A willingness to learn your communication style and any software that you’re already using
- Personality traits and working habits that complement yours
What are the Benefits of Outsourcing a Legal Assistant?
Yes, legal virtual assistant services can take administrative tasks and some legal duties off your to-do list. But what are the biggest benefits of this? What do you and your law firm receive in return?
- It reduces costs – Hiring a full-time employee has extra costs. Outsourcing to a legal assistant means you don’t need to pay employee benefits, vacation time, or payroll taxes. Ultimately, this reduces costs and allows the law firm to avoid unnecessary expenses.
- It saves time – You won’t have to spend as much time on all the administrative and other time-consuming activities. This frees up valuable time to focus on the core aspects that need your attention.
- It improves the customer experience – It can be tough to stay on top of everything when you’re juggling a thousand different tasks. A legal virtual assistant or a virtual paralegal services lets you stay ahead by answering phone calls when they come through, responding to emails efficiently, and engaging professionally with clients.
- It makes business processes more efficient – A legal assistant can take care of drafting briefs and pleadings, conducting relevant legal research, and managing contracts. This way, everything becomes more efficient since you have access to what you need when you need it.
By using virtual legal assistant services, you immediately get access to a community of talent you otherwise might not have access to at a fraction of what it would cost to hire someone full-time. Plus, the overall turnaround time for important core activities can get reduced, ultimately leading to much more efficient processes.
Training and Onboarding
Once you hire a lawyer receptionist service or outsource legal assistant responsibilities, it’s critical to ensure they understand important areas of the business. Take some time to train them on the systems you use and make sure they have the right access.
You can even involve them when you build out the processes they need to follow so there’s no miscommunication and they know exactly what they need to do.
As the relationship begins, try and set up long-term goals for them to reach so you can set and measure expectations in a realistic way. Doing all of this early will help them understand workflow, ways to communicate, and the expected turnaround time.
Streamline Your Outsourcing Needs with Alert
Are you ready to capitalize on the benefits of outsourcing legal assistant activities? Nexa is here to help you streamline your outsourcing needs. We have a dedicated team that has the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you become more efficient.
If you’re all set to increase your customer experience, save valuable time, boost productivity, and reduce unnecessary costs, take the next step to grow your business with Alert’s broad range of solutions (including lawyer answering services). It’s the superior choice for businesses of any size.
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