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How a Virtual Assistant can Benefit Your Legal Practice

How a Virtual Assistant can Benefit Your Legal Practice

 

A Virtual Assistant can benefit your legal practice in the same way a paralegal does because the scope of work is very similar.

A Paralegal is popularly referred to as the assistant of an attorney. The Paralegal manages functions that are associated with the legal process which otherwise would be handled by the attorney. These functions include research, conducting interviews, preparation of contracts and documents.

A Paralegal also performs administrative tasks for the attorney. Among these administrative tasks are:

  • Phone handling
  • Calendar management
  • E-mail filtering
  • Appointment setting
  • Conducting interviews
  • Transcription work

If these tasks look familiar it is because a Virtual Assistant also performs the same responsibilities. But what about the other tasks such as preparation of legal contracts, review of depositions and interviews?

Yes because you can find virtual assistants who are trained to work as paralegals! You cannot be a reliable assistant to an attorney unless you have reached a level of proficiency and understanding in the legal field. Virtual assistants have to be familiar with legal terminologies, have the ability to peruse through volumes of document and conduct exhaustive legal research.

Virtual assistants are used to reviewing contracts. Many come from the real estate industry and are used to reading and preparing contracts.

Attorneys often have their days packed. From meeting clients to attending hearings and depositions to overseeing adjudication processes, attorneys also have to find time to review contracts and a variety of documents.

With so much on their plate, attorneys have to constantly rely on the paralegal to attend to a number of tasks and free up their work load. Over the last 5 years, more attorneys have resorted to outsourcing transcription services.

Legal transcription is an important aspect of their profession because it provides all the key references in text format. Transcriptions have to be done accurately. In the legal profession, even an error in the use of punctuation marks can change the context of the statement. Names, identities, dates and other details are also equally important. All of these pieces of information must be accurately transcribed.

Virtual assistants are trained in transcription. Many undergo refresher courses in English to be re-oriented with grammar, spelling and the use of punctuation marks. Transcription is not just limited to the legal profession. Even those in business and the medical profession use transcription services extensively.

Thus a Virtual Assistant can do everything that a Paralegal does. A Virtual Assistant can conduct legal research, review and prepare contracts, conduct interviews and carry out all the administrative tasks that a Paralegal usually does for an attorney.

The difference between a Virtual Assistant and a Paralegal is that a VA is the more cost effective option.

You don’t incur additional overhead costs when you opt for a Virtual Assistant. Being self- employed, the Virtual Assistant is accountable for all operational expenses related to the virtual assistance business. You don’t pay benefits to a Virtual Assistant so the overall cost of compensation is much lower compared to a Paralegal.

Virtual assistants provide attorneys with a double edged sword for improving efficiency; lower cost while increasing productivity.  

Per Hour or Per Project? How You Should Charge as a Virtual Assistant

Per Hour or Per Project? How You Should Charge as a Virtual Assistant

 

What makes a Virtual Assistant an attractive proposition for businesses is that he or she is paid based on productivity. The client is able to match the expense with the output produced by the Virtual Assistant. The client knows that every cent that goes into funding the services of a Virtual Assistant is validated by actual effort.

Virtual assistants accept payment via 2 options: pay per hour or pay per project. Pay per hour means the Virtual Assistant is paid per productive hour or on time spent for actual work done. Pay per project means a price has been agreed upon on a specific project and payment will be made based on mutual agreement.

There are some pay per project arrangements that are based on the accomplishments of pre- determined milestones. For example, 25% payment will be released once 25% of the project has been completed. This is similar to the progress billing system that is practiced in construction.

Are there advantages to either system of payment? How should you charge your client as a Virtual Assistant?

With a pay per hour option, there has to be accurate tracking of hours worked. There are many software programs such as TimeDoctor or SalesForce that can provide time- keeping. The advantage for the Virtual Assistant is that he or she is guaranteed compensation for the actual time spent on the client’s project.

A disadvantage would be if too many tasks were assigned during the pre-determined work shift. In effect, the Virtual Assistant would be foregoing potential income on these projects had they been assigned separately.

If the parameters of the project were clearly identified such as number of words per article, a pay per project option would be more advantageous. However, in the absence of parameters or benchmarks, it would be difficult to quantify effort with productivity.

For example, if you were asked to mine some data how many entries qualify for payment? And if so, how much time would you need to fulfill those entries?

As a Virtual Assistant, you must always be ready for any situation. You should have payment options available for your clients. At the very core of these options is your number one priority: meet the deadlines and standards required by the client.

In your schedule of fees prepare 2 sets of rates; one for pay per hour and another for pay per project. Indicate the types of projects that fall under these rates. Your basis for determining the rates is your best-effort ability in getting the job done for a client without compromising quality.

For example if you are a content writer, you can charge $15 per hour for a blog that requires:

  • Maximum 1,600 words (excluding title)
  • Keyword research
  • Correct keyword density
  • Links to references
  • Up to 4 revisions
  • Pass Copyscape

You and the client can agree on the number of hours to be spent on the project including for revisions and edits.

If the project involves an e-book, you can work out a pay per project arrangement based on milestones. For example, you can agree on a contract price of $300 for a 10,000 word e-book. Schedule of payment shall be upon completion of the following milestones:

  • $75 for first 2,500 words
  • $75 at 5,000 words
  • $100 at 8,000 words
  • $50 at 10,000 words

Milestones allow time for the client to review the work for edits and revisions.

When preparing your rates, always operate from the platform of a win-win proposition. Remember that if you take care of your clients, they will take care of you as well.

4 Tips on How a Virtual Assistant Can Get Paid on Time

4 Tips on How a Virtual Assistant Can Get Paid on Time

 

Following up on overdue payments can be really stressful for a Virtual Assistant. In the virtual business, payment problems happen for various reasons.  Some clients start out with good intentions but sometimes things go beyond their control affecting their finances. While some clients just happen to be rotten apples.

The bitter truth is that you will get to encounter one or two clients who fall under this umbrella.  Do not lose heart and just be on guard all the time. Although there is no magic formula to determine who are the potential slow paying and non-paying clients, there are ways to safeguard your business.  

Here are 4 tips on how to get paid on time.

Always have a contract.   It is really important to have a signed agreement where the Terms of Payment are clearly stated. This will prevent people from taking advantage of you.

 

Verbal agreements will not suffice because anything you say in the end can be refuted because there is no formal agreement to back you up. One of the common mistakes new Virtual Assistants commit is agreeing to work without a contract.  

Do not make the same mistake and have a contract ready prior to the commencement of the project. When a client does not hesitate to sign a contract, it is an indication that he wants to do good business with you.  

 

Prepare an Invoice.  Your invoice must indicate the following:

 

  • Your company name and contact details
  • Client’s company name and contact details
  • Invoice date and number
  • Payment due date
  • Itemized list of tasks completed
  • Rate per hour or per project depending on what was agreed upon.
  • Payment methods.  Provide the details necessary to facilitate the payment.  This will depend on what is stated in the contract.  For example both parties have agreed that payments will be coursed through PayPal.

 

Adjust your billing cycle.  Do not go for a 30 day billing period.  That is just too long.  Adjust it to 14 days.  Shortening your billing period will allow you to follow up on payment every two weeks.  

 

Sending notices and polite email reminders will help you be in your client’s priority list.  Do not let bills pile up; one unpaid invoice is good reason enough to step on the brakes. Focus on other projects in the meantime and resume work for this client once the bill is covered.  

 

Get paid up-front. You may opt to require a deposit upon contract signing. Getting advance payment is a standard practice of Virtual Assistants who sign up for a per project deal.  

 

Do not fear losing a potential business client by doing this.  There is no harm in bringing it up while you are finalizing your contract agreement.  Many clients are open to this arrangement now.   

When you enter the Virtual Assistant business you have to be ready for the good and the bad. It is frustrating to not be compensated for the hours you have devoted to the completion of the project so do your best to prevent this from happening.  

Even if it happens, just move forward and don’t get hung up on one bad client.  The virtual business is thriving so there are more opportunities waiting for you.

6 Creative Ways to Increase Your Earnings as a Virtual Assistant

6 Creative Ways to Increase Your Earnings as a Virtual Assistant

 

A career as a Virtual Assistant can prove to be more lucrative than a typical regular office job. Have you heard of the girl who paid off her $24,000 debt by working from home and is now earning $9,000 to $11,000 per month?

All it takes is hard work and a bit of creativity to increase your earnings as a Virtual Assistant:

Set up a Virtual Assistance Website. Just like a brick and mortar business, you will need an office. In the virtual world, the website is your office.

Don’t go cheap on your website! Hire a professional web designer and programmer to build the website for you. It must be:

  • Mobile responsive
  • Fully optimized
  • Fast to download
  • Accessible via multiple browsers
  • Equipped with fully functioning buttons
  • Aesthetically designed

Include a web page for your portfolio of work and if possible have client testimonies featured in the Home Page.

Register Your Business. Even if virtual assistance is a home- based business, approach it as a true professional. Register your business with the accredited agency.

As a legal entity, clients will feel more comfortable dealing with you. A registered company will find it easier to get favorable terms from contractors and there is the possibility of securing tax breaks.

Create a Rock Star Profile. Networking is a crucial activity to grow your business. Before you start networking, make sure you have a rock star profile online and in your marketing materials.

A rock star profile is one that states what you can do for clients and why they should hire you. Don’t spare the details; list down your accomplishments and support it with facts, figures and website links if necessary.

Target 2 Job Applications Every Day. There are many great online job market websites that you can sign up with and bid for openings as a Virtual Assistant.

Choose 3 of these online job market sites and make sure you apply to at least 2 job posts every day. And yes, that includes Sunday.

If you apply to 2 job posts every day for an entire month, you would have reached out to 60 potential clients. You need a success rate of 2% to land at least 1 new client every month.

Be Proactive with Your Market. If you have a website, offer free webinars and invite your followers to join your podcast. Your content should focus on your competencies in virtual assistance to highlight your expertise.

If you are in social media, join virtual assistance or outsourcing focus groups and engage with members frequently. This is how you get people to believe and follow you.

Scale Up Your Business. How? By hiring your own virtual assistants! If you follow the 5 previous tips, you should be getting more inquiries from interested prospects by now.

Not everyone will sign you up; there are factors such as budgetary constraints which you have no control over.

But you will sign up more clients faster. In order to manage all of these new clients, you need help and this means setting up your own virtual team!

As a Virtual Assistant your ability to generate more income is only constrained by your creativity. More businesses are looking to outsource services to virtual assistants. You can easily cast out your net into this vast ocean of opportunity can catch more clients than you thought of possible.

How Hiring a Virtual Assistant can Save You a Fortune Every Month

How Hiring a Virtual Assistant can Save You a Fortune Every Month

 

You should hire a Virtual Assistant if any of these incidents have happened to you:

You reconcile your books and realize you failed to collect a large amount of money for services rendered to clients the past few months because you forgot to send invoices.

You filter your e-mail and missed multiple job offers for your services that amounted to $10,000 in foregone earnings because you didn’t have the time to prepare and send a formal proposal.

You enter a dry spell because you couldn’t find the time to network regularly during your busy months.

Entrepreneurs are guilty of 2 things: micro-managing and working too lean. These are admirable traits but you can never do things on your own. And if you work too lean, eventually you’ll reach a point where your current level of scale can’t accommodate an extra output of productivity. You end up flushing thousands of dollars down the drain.

The best solution is to hire a Virtual Assistant and save up a fortune every month through the following ways:

Organize Your Business. Meetings, payments, follow ups, interviews, submissions of business proposals; the list just goes on and on. If you don’t organize your business, many of these tasks will accumulate, remain undone and result in opportunity costs.

A Virtual Assistant can organize your business by attending to the following tasks:

Calendar Management
Appointment Setting
Phone Handling
Follow Ups
E-mail Support

Your Virtual Assistant will constantly remind you of deadlines and scheduled dates at least 2 days prior or earlier depending on the level of priority.

Free Up Your Time. If you’re spending too much time attending to administrative duties and support services, you are working IN your business not ON your business.

As an entrepreneur, you should be judicious and strategic with your time if you want to succeed. Your time is best allocated to matters that readily translate to more dollars and cents to your bank account. How much time do you spend filtering e-mail?

By delegating administrative and support services to a Virtual Assistant, you can re-align your work hours and focus on functions that will fast track the success of your business.

Keep Your Payables Up to Date. How would you feel when you are in the middle of an important Skype call and then the Internet gets disconnected? What if you were printing materials for an important presentation then power shuts off?

You did not intend to but somehow the Internet and power bills went unpaid. Although there are ways to get through these inconveniences, it remains a hassle, a time killer and a source of stress.

A Virtual Assistant will keep a schedule of your payables, send you a copy as a reminder and still message you 2 days before the due date.

Streamline Your Business Costs. Hiring a Virtual Assistant will hardly move the needle on your monthly expenses.

The Virtual Assistant is self- employed; technically, he or she owns a business that provides virtual assistance services. Thus the Virtual Assistant is responsible for his or her costs of business.

You do not pay your Virtual Assistant benefits as mandated by the government or your company as he or she is contracted but not employed by your business. Your Virtual Assistant as a proprietor also has other clients to attend to and is not exclusive to you.

As an entrepreneur, learn to relinquish control and delegate work to your Virtual Assistant. Start out with the non-essentials and slowly transfer the more crucial aspects of your business. Contract another Virtual Assistant if necessary. By hiring virtual assistants, opportunity costs will be things of the past.

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace the Human Virtual Assistant?

Will Artificial Intelligence Replace the Human Virtual Assistant?

 

With the largest technology companies investing in Artificial Intelligence, will the AI soon replace the VA or Virtual Assistant?

Apple started the AI revolution with Siri in 2010. Understandably, there were many faults and errors in the initial programming which was to be expected with new innovations. Siri’s issues which included voice recognition and problems conducting specific search queries led to a number of class action lawsuits in 2012.

But technology companies were undeterred and followed Apple’s lead. Over the last few years, other technology companies have followed suit.

Here is a short list of AI Assistants developed by select technology companies:

Siri – Apple
Cortana – Microsoft
M – Facebook
Braina – Microsoft
Alexa – Amazon
Google Now – Google
BlackBerry Assistant – BlackBerry
Duer – Baidu
Echo – Amazon
Assistant – SpeakToIt

These AI Assistants offer users the following advantages:

Reduced probability of errors
Higher precision and expected level of accuracy
Not subject to physical afflictions as human Virtual Assistants
Incapable of emotional instability as human Virtual Assistants
Can work 24/7 without issue

Some of these AI Assistants such as Duer will complete your tasks without having to notify you. It knows what you like to order from your favorite restaurant and will find ways to have your food delivered by coursing it through the technology companies contracted courier services.

But while these AI Assistants are providing a convenient service, it is not without cost.

For these technology companies, every time you use their AI Assistant you are giving them more information on your behavioral traits. They have information on what you like to eat, the movies you want to watch, the places you frequent for vacation and the airlines you often patronize.

Information that translates to big money for these technology companies; they will send you coupons and offers that match your consumption behavior.

Many will probably agree to this as social media remains popular despite becoming an efficient lead generator for the likes of Facebook and YouTube.

On the other hand, Virtual Assistants will just work to get the job done for you. You pay exactly for the service that is rendered. It is an amicable arrangement not parasitic where one feeds on the needs of the other.

The criticism that human virtual assistants make mistakes completely misses the point. Virtual assistants have the power of foresight and rationale. They have the ability to anticipate potential risks in the horizon. And if they make a mistake, they can remedy the situation by running down prepared courses of action.

If you have customer service, the last thing you would want is to automate the process. Successful customer service is all about creating a feedback loop where clients or subscribers and the Virtual Assistant can bounce off ideas to arrive at an immediate resolution. An irate customer will only get more frustrated dealing with an automated system.

An AI does not have the ability to understand urgency but human Virtual Assistants do because they can empathize with you. If you have an important presentation, an AI can get you accurate facts but content is not just about precision. The material must be compelling enough to solicit the desired emotional response.

While AI Assistants have their purpose, they cannot supplant the Virtual Assistant. It is through their imperfections that the Virtual Assistant reveals their true value to the client.

How to Build Your Career as a Virtual Assistant

how-to-build-your-career-as-a-virtual-assistant

 

As a Virtual Assistant, you are not stuck where you are managing work for your current portfolio of clientele. You are a business owner; a proprietor offering virtual assistance services. You can build your career and build your business just like every other entrepreneur. Here are 4 tips you should consider:

Expand Your Scope of Services. Initially you should focus only on your core competence; the skill or offering wherein you can guarantee quality and timely submission of projects.

For example, if you are a good writer you may start out by offering blogging services. As you gain traction and confidence, you should slowly expand your scope of services to include the following:

Web Copy
Short Form Articles
Marketing Copy
E-Books
Resumes
Market Research

Each type of writing has its own style and set of nuances. This is why slow and easy does it when expanding your scope of services. E-books for example can be more informal in tone and content.

Keep in mind that these types of content will have different time tables for delivery. Short form articles, resumes and web copies can be daily while market research could be bi-monthly. Expanding your scope of services demands expert time management.

Focus on Volume of Work. The ultimate goal of every Virtual Assistant is to land long- term engagements. But this takes time and consistency in the quality of deliverables. Also, clients may like your work but depending on the status of their own business, job orders may be sporadic.

If business remains inconsistent, focus on increasing your volume of work. There are many online job market websites such as Fiverr that offer short term work but provides a source of steady income. You can land 5 to 7 short term writing jobs per day such as 500 word articles, 200 word web copies, and generate an additional $700 to your monthly income.

It will also increase your portfolio of market and gives a large market to promote your skills and services.

Create a Virtual Team. It’s hard to say “No” to additional work. After all, why should you decline an opportunity to add to your coffers right? Logic states that you should only accept work you can accommodate without compromising quality and timely submissions. But it’s hard to decline an offer to make extra money. The best recourse is to create a virtual team.

Before you seek out more clients, build your network of virtual assistants. Keep in touch with them and come up with an agreement that if you have additional work, you will hire them. But it would be best to discuss with them your proposed payment structure.

For example, if you charge a client $12 per 1,000 word article you can pay your Virtual Assistant associate $7 for the article and keep the $5. You may not have earned your usual rate but at the same time, you still add to your income.

Diversify Your Services. Once you have your team of virtual assistants running efficiently, you could now look at diversifying your services.

If you are currently focusing on writing services, you could look at other projects such as website design and programming. You just have to make sure you have a good website designer to rely on.

You can charge $1,500 to the service and pay the website designer $1,000 while you keep the $500.

Growing a business is a process that takes time. But with planning and determination, you can dramatically increase your income levels and sustain earnings over the long haul.

5 Successful Entrepreneurs who Have Virtual Assistants on their Teams

5 Successful Entrepreneurs who Have Virtual Assistants on their Teams

If you think virtual assistants are only limited to providing support services, think again! Many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world owe a great deal of their success to their virtual assistants. Having virtual assistants onboard their business meant more than delegating non-essential tasks; they were able to fine- tune operations, improve the quality of work and of course, streamline costs.

Tim Ferris. If there was a jump off point that heralded the value of the Virtual Assistant, it would be Tim Ferris’ breakout book, “The 4-Hour Work Week”.

In it, Ferris details his struggles of running his first company on his own. Ferris claimed he was putting in 14 hours of work every day with nothing to show for it.

When he hired a team of virtual assistants, he was able to focus more on the tasks that matter and become more productive.

“What if you never had to check e-mail again? If you could hire someone else to spend countless hours in your Inbox instead of you. This isn’t pure fantasy.”

Ramit Sethi. According to Sethi, he made every mistake in the book when he first started hiring virtual assistants. But once he was able to get organized, understand what he wanted and moderated his expectations, the Virtual Assistant became an integral component of his success.

Sethi is a New York Times Bestselling Author and founder of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com.

“Working with a skilled virtual assistant – and using a systematic approach to save time has been the best investments I have made in my life.”

Michael Hyatt. Hyatt is a popular blogger, writer and Founder of 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever, Platform University and Get Published.

He is an active proponent of hiring virtual assistants. Hyatt credits his team of virtual assistants for helping him manage his time for writing, speaking engagements and consultations.

“I am convinced that virtual assistants are the future.”

James Schramko. After spending days as a General Manager for Mercedes Benz and nights as an online marketer, Schramko decided to go full- time with his night job.

His company SuperFastBusiness helps entrepreneurs grow their business using Internet marketing. He has regularly advocated the use of virtual assistants as one of the first steps to take in growing your business.

“One of the best things you can do is to hire an Assistant. These days you often hear of a Virtual Assistant or a VA.”

John Lee Dumas. A daily routine of listening to podcasts during long drives while starting a career in real estate, Dumas realized none of the podcasts offered content that interested him.

Dumas started his own podcast EOF or Entrepreneur On Fire which featured various successful entrepreneurs. One year after its launch, EOF was named Best of iTunes. EOF earns 7 figures in annual income.

“Do away with the robot act and get to know your Virtual Assistant! They are real people with families, hobbies and passions.”

If you are planning to expand your business, follow the lead of these successful entrepreneurs and hire a Virtual Assistant. You may be surprised at the significance of the assist they can give your business.

4 tips on developing a healthy diet plan on a budget

When you’re on a tight budget, planning your meals can be challenging. Eating health is even trickier. With the right tips, you can still maintain a healthy diet without breaking the bank.

Here are four tips on developing a healthy diet plan on a budget.

Tip #1: Buy Seasonal Produce and Freeze

Buying fresh produce is great, but the costs can quickly add up without you noticing. Stick with buying seasonal produce and stock up when you encounter a great deal. You can buy food like corn, green peas, etc. and separate them into freezer bags for storage. They should last several months.

Tip #2: Learn to Enjoy Beans and Whole Grains

Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and freekeh are quite inexpensive and an excellent way to bulk up your meals. Black beans can help stretch meals, especially meats. You can incorporate beans with ground turkey for burgers and even chili. Whole grains can add bulk to a meal and keep you feeling fuller longer.

Tip #3: Plan Meals According to Market Sales

The local markets offer savings weekly. Use this to your advantage and consider planning your meals according to what’s on sale. Planning your meals accordingly may help you save even more money without affecting your nutrition. It may even allow you to get creative with your meals.

Tip #4: Consider Budget-Friendly Meat Cuts

Meat lovers can still enjoy meat without having to spend a fortune every week. Opt for less expensive cuts of chicken thighs instead of breasts or meats with bone-in and skin on options. There are more flavorful and nutritious. Consider meat cuts such as beef skin, whole chickens, lamb necks and more.

What are your best tips for developing a healthy diet plan on a budget? Comment below!

3 reasons why your health and finances are related to each other

As Herophilus, the ancient Greek physician said, “When health is absent, having wealth is useless.” The relation between your health and finances is high and even involved. Let’s take a better look at three reasons why your health and finances are related to each other.

Bad Habits are Expensive

1

To put it simply, following unhealthy choices are expensive. For example an average pack of cigarettes costs less than $5. However, if you consume two packs a day, that’s near $3,600 a year just on cigarettes alone. The same thing goes with obesity. Spending high amounts of money on food can lead to an increase in weight gain – ultimately increase health risks.

Financial Problems Lead to Health Problems

2

The cycle of health problems and financial problems is non-stop. Having financial stress can affect your health causing anxiety, insomnia, and other poor health related issues. This will then lead to skipping medical checkups and poor dietary choices. In the long run, this can lead to much bigger health problems – causing a larger amount of financial stress.

Poor Health Cuts Life Short

3

Aside from the unfortunate effect of losing one’s life, this can also lead to a poor financial legacy for your family. While money may help you maintain and improve your health, focusing too much on earning can also be unhealthy. In fact, America is considered to being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet far from being considered as the healthiest.

Bottom line, protect your health and wealth by learning for to manage your lifestyle properly. You can still focus on your career while staying physically active and taking care of your health.