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.