You can’t do it all alone, even if that’s how you started and initially grew your law firm. Over time, your commitment to trying to do everything on your own is actually holding you back! You can’t successfully be the VP of every department in your firm, grow revenue, and take the time off that you need. With over 57 million freelancers in the U.S. alone, there’s a good chance you can find a virtual legal assistant or other expert to help in your firm.
The first place to start is determining all of the tasks you’re already completing on an ongoing basis. Keep note of all the time you devote to each aspect of your business during a given week either on paper or using a tool like Toggl. If your day-to-day schedule is relatively similar, track all your tasks over the course of one day.
Once you’ve completed this list, look for the tasks that:
- Don’t make you money
- Pull you from your “zone of genius” in talking to clients and practicing law
- You don’t do well or find frustrating
- Tasks that you don’t enjoy
- Tasks that take you a very long time to complete
There might be several tasks that make sense to outsource together. For example, the same person who builds your intake process might also be appropriate to manage your calendar. Resist the urge to give all the tasks on your list to one person as your virtual legal assistant. It is better to delegate to freelancers who have specific areas of expertise in the areas where you need the most help.
Many tasks can be outsourced by a law firm or attorney that give you that time to work on your business instead of in it while also leveraging your budget. Hiring freelancers means that you only pay for the work completed and don’t have to take on some of the overhead that would be required with an employee. Partnering with a virtual legal assistant is a great first step for someone who hasn’t outsourced before.
Examples of tasks that you can outsource include social media, blogging, website management, email support, Chatbot management, email newsletter support, and your calendar and scheduling.
How to Hire the Right Freelancer
Hiring a great virtual legal assistant or freelancer relies on excellent job descriptions and instructions. You can only attract quality help when you have a clear system in place for hiring. When outsourcing, it’s critical to be clear about expectations, communication methods, and payment guidelines before working together.
- Provides clear instructions and examples of the output expected
- Provides a clear and firm deadline (3-5 business days from the point you assign it.)
- Is relevant to the skillset the freelancer will need the most in the ongoing position
This “screen test” will tell you a lot about what you can expect on an ongoing basis if you hire the freelancer. Using this test job with at least two freelancers will give you the opportunity to compare and to determine who might be the better fit.
How to Onboard and Train Your New Freelancer
Determine how you’ll share important access to your systems with your new freelancer. Tools like Dashlane and Lastpass provide a layer of security and can easily be revoked if the freelancer no longer works with you.
Set aside time to train the freelancer on your systems. Written instructions or screencapture videos both work effectively for an independent contractor. As you work together, involve the freelancer in building out the processes and systems for future reference. Having processes in place prevents confusion and surprises while also letting the freelancer takes things off your plate. For ongoing support, set up long-term goals to work effectively with a freelancer; the more they come to know you, your clients, and your firm, the better they’ll be able to perform in this role or even be scaled up to support in new ways.
Make sure you set realistic expectations with virtual legal assistants up front- you should be clear about workflow, communication, and turnaround time.
Paying Your Freelancer
There are three general models to use when setting up payment terms: hourly, project-based, and retainer. Hourly is the easiest to start with if you’re not sure how much support you’ll need or if the tasks will vary from week to week. Project-based work outlines specific milestones that build up to the bigger project, such as building your website. On a retainer basis, you pay a freelancer for ongoing work like social media or blogging.
Be sure to establish an invoicing system, weekly limits, and collect tax information to send a 1099 to your freelancer at the conclusion of the calendar year.
If you’re doing too much, now is the time to use virtual legal assistants to get some of your time back and to scale your firm.
Learn More About Outsourcing with Lawyerist
Leveraging your time and outsourcing to virtual legal assistants and other freelancers enables you to scale. If you’re interested in working in a supportive environment with other small law firms scaling through delegation, think about becoming a Lawyerist Insider. Once you join, you’ll get immediate access to information, tools, and other lawyers who can network with.