Legal Practice

3 Mistakes to Avoid while Working with a Virtual Legal Assistant

Benefits of using a Virtual OfficeBenefits of using a Virtual Office


The Virtual Legal Assistant was introduced in the virtual world to address the immediate need of workload of lawyers that they had while handling many cases. To provide virtual legal support services to several law firms, the virtual legal assistant has become a growing segment in the virtual assistance industry. Virtual assistants were earlier hired mainly for secretarial duties and personal assistant services. But, as technology advanced, businesses now have become global, and therefore the demand for virtual assistants with more varied skillsets has increased. Such assistants are now hired to conduct more specialized work in the legal profession. They manage the non-essential task of the lawyers and provide accurate transcription work, thereby increasing productivity and lowering operating costs.

A person always goes with a specialist when in need of a specific service, so is the case with lawyers. But, hiring and getting work done by such specialists needs to be done with due care and effectiveness. It should be kept in mind that virtual assistants have their areas of specialization and are capable of completing the tasks assigned that come under their area of specialty. So a lawyer should be very careful and avoid the following 3 mistakes while working with a virtual legal assistant-

  1. Not reviewing the work done: A law firm cannot assume that assigning work to the virtual legal assistant means that it is undoubtedly done and then forgetting about it. The biggest mistake a lawyer can make is not periodically reviewing the work done by a virtual assistant. A lawyer should check in periodically on the projects and tasks that have been assigned to the virtual assistant and provide constructive feedback on the performance because it will help in identifying the mistakes committed at an early stage which can be avoided in the future. Otherwise, the virtual assistant will not know whether the work done by him meets the needs of the firm. Not doing continuous evaluation would mean that the firm is simply dumping work rather than properly delegating it. Without any checks, the virtual assistant will also take the work assigned casually and will not be concerned about the quality of work he will be delivering. That way, the purpose of hiring a specialist will be defeated as the work will not be completed as expected, and it will waste a lot of time as after going through the work of virtual assistant at a later stage, the lawyer will himself have to put in efforts and complete the task as per the requirement.

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  2. Hiring for a particular task and not the role: The purpose of using the services of a virtual assistant is to reduce the overall workload on lawyers and increase the efficiency of work done. Outsourcing a task saves one from spending a few extra hours. If a lawyer hires a virtual assistant to perform a particular task, then he is not taking full advantage of this concept of hiring somebody else to work on your behalf. Once a task is complete, then there is a need to hire another virtual assistant when the task comes up again or for a similar task, which then takes a lot of time to find a suitable person who will complete the work on time and with efficiency. When someone is hired to fill a role, then he or she can be mentored to perform all the tasks correlated with that role, reducing management time to a minimum. While appointing a virtual assistant, his strengths and weaknesses should be taken into account so that work can be assigned accordingly. It is up to the lawyer to analyse carefully and assign that task to the Virtual Assistant which he thinks he himself will not be able to do justice to, but it sure will be done properly by the Virtual Assistant.
  3. Failing to define the task clearly and not giving enough time: Before hiring a virtual assistant, one must do some initial preparation before actually beginning the work with them. A lawyer must be clear about the kind of assistance needed and also how work should be done within a definite time. It is better to have a clear picture of the task to be done in mind so that it can clearly be conveyed to the virtual assistant. There should be clear instructions with respect to the task that explains the requirements and illustrate the task perfectly. It is wrong to expect a new person to understand any business completely within a short duration. Instead, a virtual assistant should be given a considerable amount of time so that he can match the level of your business and then produce desirable results. A virtual assistant has several things to learn and understand with regard to the process and systems of the law firm. A lawyer should make sure that the tasks sent to a virtual assistant are spelt out clearly. It is highly suggested to send tasks in writing by using proper language and in a format that conveys all the points. If the task to be done is listed out clearly, then there will be fewer doubts and issues while working.

Establishing a healthy, trusting relationship with a virtual assistant is not always easy. But if it is done after considering all the aspects and avoiding all the mistakes, a virtual legal assistant can be a valuable resource that spurs the firm’s growth. With proper direction, hiring an assistant can maximize the benefits availed.

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While it is true that working with a virtual assistant increases the productivity of any business to a great extent, but one can avail full benefit only if they are able to leverage their talents and time completely. One needs to avoid mistakes and harness the real benefit out of them to perform well. The best way to eliminate committing mistakes completely while working with a virtual legal assistant is to plan well in advance and have proper systems in place that aid in finishing off the tasks with utmost perfection.

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by Srishti arora

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