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Virtual Legal Assistant-Delegating to Freelancers

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.

这就是像虚拟法律助理这样的自由职业者的用武之地。与员工相比,独立承包商更实惠,附加的条件更少,可以为律师事务所的重要部分提供权力,如营销、行政和聘用流程。你甚至可以将法律工作外包给其他自由职业律师。如果你关心成本,你就要决定与自由职业者的工作关系。成功地将外包给自由职业者依赖于一个系统化的过程来决定交什么、雇用谁以及如何以正确的方式雇用他们。 

如何知道是时候外包了

你在开夜车吗?不断地试图把事情从你的待办事项列表中划掉,却发现电子邮件又在列表中增加了三件事?你并不孤单。许多独身律师或小型律师事务所的律师一开始都是自力更生,但最终发现,一旦他们的业务增长,有太多的事情需要跟踪,以保持业务增长。

在管理任务中迷失方向肯定是一个迹象,表明你至少需要与虚拟法律助理谈谈你的选择。管理工作,清理电子邮件收件箱, 发布您的博客,或者在社交媒体上共享可能看起来很重要,但不需要由每小时收费超过100美元的人来处理。你最好利用你所拥有的时间和精力,把它们交给专门的法律助理或虚拟助理。

如果你发现自己周五下午离开办公室时有一种“哇,我差点就来了!”的感觉,是时候考虑外包给法律行政助理了。

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. 

一旦你知道你想外包什么,是时候在一份明确的工作描述中正式确定这一点了。您的工作描述应说明虚拟法律助理在与您合作前应了解的角色和细节,包括:

  • 他们应该已经熟悉哪些软件 
  • 它们是否需要位于特定时区
  • 如何最有效地与团队成员沟通 
  • 每周或每月预计的工作时间或承诺 
  • “必备”和“宜人”的个性特征或工作方式习惯 

一个收集应用程序的系统会让你比被电子邮件淹没更容易管理。这也是第一次有机会了解你潜在的自由职业者是如何遵循指示的。考虑使用Google Forms之类的工具来捕获他们的详细信息,以便查看结果。对于一个你将与面向客户或长期能力的人合作的职位,面试你最优秀的几个候选人。

面试你未来的自由职业者是你第一次有机会了解彼此沟通的情况。通过电话或Zoom之类的工具面试应聘者,以更好地了解他们是谁,并允许他们向你提问。考虑以下面试问题: 

  • 您喜欢与哪种类型的客户合作?
  • 你在法律行业的背景是什么?
  • 告诉我你是如何安排你的工作时间表以达到最后期限的。
  • 请告诉我一次你犯了错误,以及你是如何处理这种情况的。 

对于自由职业者每周与你共事时间超过五个小时的长期项目或角色,可以通过测试工作来了解他们的沟通、完成期限和遵循指示的情况。理想的测试工作是他们在该职位上工作的一小部分,如果被聘用的话。创建测试作业时,请确保: 

  • 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.

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