Sunday, April 03, 2005

An Alternative Staffing Solution for Attorneys

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Are you tired of spending so much time at your keyboard or have you thought about hiring someone but don’t want the hassles involved with being an employer? If you have an assistant, is she frequently inundated or does your office come to a standstill when she leaves at the end of the day, calls in sick, or takes vacation time?
If so, it may be time for you consider establishing a relationship with a Virtual Assistant (VA) or outsourced service provider for your word processing, billing and document management needs. By its definition, outsourcing means to purchase goods or subcontract services from an outside company.
Advances in technology have made outsourcing reliable, efficient and cost-effective for most types of businesses, including law firms. All that is needed to successfully outsource many routine tasks is an internet connection, some basic computer knowledge, and a willingness to delegate. Giving up control is sometimes the biggest stumbling block for many attorneys! If you're one of them, take a look at just a few of the benefits of outsourcing:
  • You partner with a fully operating business so there is no need to supply space, equipment, expensive training or software licenses.
  • No taxes, FICA, Worker's Compensation, insurance, 401(k), or other incentive expenses
  • By outsourcing, you gain time to work on the more important aspects of a successful practice: client development, better case management; or to pursue personal goals such as getting to the gym or spending more time with your family.
  • If your secretary never seems to get to the bottom of the pile, is it because she's there's too much for her to do? Outsourcing initial drafts or billing may be what you both need to take some pressure off!

Once you’ve made the decision to outsource, where do you start? If you are looking to establish a relationship with an individual virtual assistant, through such organizations as the International Virtual Assistants Association (http://www.ivaa.org), you can search for an individual who has legal experience listed in their biography or post a Request for Proposal requesting legal background.

If you prefer to work with an established company rather than an individual, you can take a look at LegalTypist (http://www.legaltypist.com). LegalTypist provides virtual secretarial support and off site transcription exclusively to the legal industry

Whether working with a large company or individual VA, it is important to get the telephone number and/or e-mail of one or two of their clients so for a reference. If the Company or VA is unwilling or unable to give references, you might want to look elsewhere. Remember, you should be looking for the best possible fit for your particular practice style and habits, not just the fastest and/or cheapest. As with anything in life, you usually get what you pay for.

Finally, you might want to establish a relationship with a reputable service even if you are not at the stage where you require regular assistance. By taking care of the preliminaries before you have an immediate need, you will be in a position to outsource as your schedule requires, rather than getting into a bind or spreading yourself too thin because you do not know where to turn when you have an approaching deadline.

Virtual assistance is the "staffing" solution of the future. Take advantage of it today!

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About the Author: Andrea Cannavina is a legal assistant with over 17 years’ experience and an EthicsChecked Master Virtual Assistant. She is also the President of LegalTypist, Inc. a virtual word processing/secretarial outsourcing service for attorneys. If you would like to contact her, send an e-mail to Andrea@Legaltypist.com or call (866) 848-2195.

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