You were feeling stressed out and overwhelmed by the ever-expanding responsibilities of running your law practice, so you hired an assistant. Now, several months later, you're feeling even more stressed out and overwhelmed because it seems like now there are two of you that cannot keep up!

 What's wrong with this picture? And how do you fix it?

Get Your Assistant an Assistant

No joke. What's probably happening is that the assistant you hired to help with legal matters like research and case prep is spending too much time on routine tasks such as scheduling (or rescheduling) client calls. It's amazing how time consuming that can be. That's particularly true since the pandemic forced us all to conduct much of our business remotely, which means more calls (and potential scheduling conflicts) than ever.

This can create a compound level of frustration. First, your assistant is unavailable to help you do the work you actually hired them for, which means you end up doing it yourself, or worse, it doesn’t get done. That makes you resentful. Second, your assistant starts to feel burnt out because they're doing too many rote tasks rather than the challenging legal work that led them to take the job in the first place. That makes them resentful.

So they resign. And you spend even more time looking for a replacement and retraining. That's to say nothing of the damage that frequent turnover can do to your reputation among clients, who inevitably wonder why you cant keep an assistant. Anyone remember Murphy Brown and her ever changing staff? She had so much turnover (93 in 10 seasons in case you weren’t’ counting) Ms. Brown’s secretaries were #ed in the show’s closing credits! Feel familiar?

The answer to retaining a good legal assistant is to support them with a good virtual assistant (VA). I know what you are thinking, “what hire another person”? No, in fact you can enlist a VA with little investment, resulting in high returns. It just has to be done right. We can help!

Making a Case

Take a quick look at the kinds of tasks a VA typically performs. Can you see how taking those responsibilities off your legal assistant's plate and outsourcing them could create a much more productive and efficient environment?

  • Calendar management: A good VA takes a "belt and suspenders approach," using an automated calendar system (Calendly, for example) while also making themselves available to answer the inevitable client questions over the phone.
  • Status updates on client work: Have your VA track and document the progress of cases delegated to other attorneys and paralegals. This will help you not only focus on the cases immediately in front of you, but also flag any potential missed deadlines before they happen and proactively mitigate fallout. 
  • Social media monitoring: Today's law practices must maintain active social media accounts. Your VA can stay on top of posting content, commenting on client and referral source posts and identifying articles of interest to share. (You'll want to approve posts and comments, of course, but this can be covered during a quick daily check-in.)
  • Industry research: You'll want to assign your legal assistant the more granular, case-specific research projects. But your VA can perform general research on clients, prospects and the industry to keep you up to date as a subject matter expert.
  • Marketing assistance: Depending on your comfort level, your needs and the VA's background, you could enlist them to help build your client base through your CRM system. 
  • Whatever else you need to get through the day: Your VA could even help with personal tasks that it would be awkward or inappropriate to assign to your legal assistant.

Help Yourself

As helpful as a VA can be in getting you more organized and focused, you'll still need to implement a few procedures to get the most from them, and from your legal assistant:

  • Institute an in-house communications channel like Microsoft Teams to cut down on those time-consuming email cycles among you, your assistant and your VA.
  • Commit to daily standups with your legal admin, VA and relevant attorneys to coordinate ever-changing priorities. Once you establish the criteria — basically, you review client availability, feedback and questions — a daily 15-minute call should do it. 

At Kolibri Law Support Solutions, we offer not only recommendations for tools, processes and systems tailored to your specific needs and work style, but also support you and your practice with a suite of options and best practices that are the right fit for you — and your legal assistant. Together, we can create a team that will provide long-term continuity and better client service. And that, in turn, will give you peace of mind.

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