I came across a blog post where a colleague was talking about an issue she was having with a client who wanted to do something in a certain way that she knew wasn’t the best way, and would actually cause the client more problems. Instead of guiding this client, as an expert should, way from …
When I started working in the virtual assistant industry I had worked as an in-house legal assistant for a very long time and had never even heard of a virtual assistant. One day while home on unpaid maternity leave I had to find a solution to bringing in some kind of income to help my husband take care of our now even larger family. I was searching for at home jobs on the internet and ran across so many things that were or seemed to be scam type jobs. In just a general search for work from home jobs I found virtual assistant and that’s where it all began.
There was so much information on virtual assistants that it actually became rather overwhelming but I was so determined to make this thing happen and so I researched, watched various training, determined my niche, set up my business and was ready to be a Virtual Assistant. What I did not understand was that being a virtual assistant is what I do, how I operate my business. It is not who I am.
Well who am I, you ask? I am a small business owner who just happens to be a Professional Legal Assistant and Administrative Consultant. I operate my business from a virtual “remote” location and that puts me in the virtual assistant industry. According to The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) virtual assistants are independent contractors who (from a remote location, usually their home or office) support multiple clients in a variety of industries by providing administrative, creative, and technical services.
I have clients in other states but the bulk of most virtual assistant’s clients just happen to be local. Actually both of my first clients were from other states and not local because I could not get around to local networking events since I had just had my 7th child. Let me tell you this, the transition from working at a brick and mortar to working from home is no cake walk. It is definitely a change that is unforgettable. You no longer have co-workers in the office that you chat with and move your day along in fact, you don’t even have human interaction on a daily basis unless you have people in your home. Lucky for me I have a husband and seven children which means there is never a dull moment. However, your computer becomes that co-worker that you tell about your weekend and have lunch with. For me, work was really my social life, the only people that I really dealt with outside of my family so it was a huge readjustment. Working from home is very challenging but it is definitely rewarding in the end.
I remember my first experience trying to obtain a local client. I will never forget how he looked at me when he asked me what a virtual assistant was. This was the topic of discussion because virtual assistant is not a common term just flown around as what someone does as a profession and I used virtual assistant as my title on business flyers, business cards and any type of advertising material for my business. So I spent the most part of my time to market myself and my business explaining what a virtual assistant was and we both laughed because he thought I was something like a computer tech. I laughed because it was funny but what wasn’t funny was the fact that I never got the chance to explain to him how my business works, how I could help him and save him money. It didn’t surprise me though because truth is before I actually did some searching on the internet I had never even heard of a virtual assistant myself. He wasn’t the only one in fact, I found myself explaining what a virtual assistant was so much that I sounded like a spokesperson for a company called virtual assistant and never really getting to introduce this new innovative way to operate business or the opportunity to explain what I do and how I could benefit their business.
Bottom line, I no longer go by virtual assistant. I use my title Professional Legal Assistant or Administrative Consultant depending on the industry I am targeting. This opened me up to the opportunity to market myself with a different approach. Fact is, I am known locally in my field as being one of the best of the best and so my name precedes me. So, when I am speaking with an attorney and I am marketing myself they hear what I am saying and not trying to figure out what I am talking about. Not giving myself the title virtual assistant and using my proper title gives me more time to tell potential clients and colleagues what I do and how I can help their business and then when the time arises tell them how I operate on a virtual basis. By all means, I am proud to be a part of the virtual industry, my business is new and innovative and has brought me much satisfaction. However, it is what I do, it is not who I am.
Legal research is a very important aspect of the practice of law. Google Scholar is an online, freely accessible search engine that provides a simple way to broadly search for professional articles, journals and conference papers, theses and dissertations, academic books, pre-prints, abstracts and legal documents. Its database includes full-text copies of nearly every court opinion published on state and federal circuits.
Google Scholar allows you to search and read published opinions of US state appellate and supreme court cases since 1950, US federal district, appellate, tax and bankruptcy courts since 1923 and US Supreme Court cases since 1791. It includes citations for cases cited by indexed opinions or journal articles which allows you to find influential cases which are not yet online or publicly available. Cases are cited in Bluebook format, including internal page numbers, and are cross-lined within the database. Google Scholar provides links to secondary sources such as law reviews and journals.
On Google Scholar, legal documents can be searched for by keywords, title, or the name of a legal institution. You can also search and filter case law based on the jurisdiction and/or year in which it was published.
If you are seeking ways to reduce research costs, Google Scholar is a good option. Goggle Scholar is a great place to conduct preliminary research, or to review new cases that have not yet been affected by precedent and is extremely effective when used in combination with free and fee based primary law sources.
Some Advantages of Using Google Scholar
- Easy search capabilities
- Provides some basic and advanced search options like a database
- Provides direct access to full text of articles if they are available for free online.
- Better Citation System – wherever a document cites other case law a hyperlink will instantly retrieve the cited document for you. Google Scholar also indexes cited sources in order of importance alongside every legal document.
- Frequent Updates – Google Scholar normally adds new papers several times a week.
- Alerts – Google Scholar will periodically email you newly published papers that match your search criteria.
- Google Scholar unlike Westlaw or LexisNexis uses natural language instead of Boolean language for searches.
Some Disadvantages to Using Google Scholar
- Google Scholar has a limited library so older legal documents might not be available.
- Google Scholar does not have Headnotes, Shepardizing, or secondary sources like LexisNexis and Westlaw.
- Google Scholar ranks a document’s relevance based on a search engine algorithm so the order in which cases appear in your search may not accurately reflect the relative legal importance of the case.
Google Scholar makes it free and easy to locate a vast number of legal documents giving you the opportunity to save money because you use a paid research service a lot less frequently. Google Scholar can’t replace Westlaw of LexisNexis but it certainly provides an advantage to any lawyer or law firm when combined with them.
Want to learn more about Google Scholar https://scholar.google.com
PS – If you appreciate these tools, please join our mailing list to receive monthly insight on tools like Google Scholar. You’re the best!
Keeping clients happy is essential to running a successful solo practice. These great tips can help ensure you’re providing the best customer service in your law firm.
There are dozens of applications and other technology solutions available to help make every aspect of running a law practice easy and efficient. Selecting the right ones does require a little research, but luckily our survey participants also provided specific technology they use in their law firms.
We surveyed attorneys about the technology that makes their law practice successful. Check out our infographic to see their responses.
I have used Microsoft Publisher for a while to create brochures and different materials for my online business. Recently, I ran across an online tool that I absolutely love called Canva so I thought I would share.
What is Canva? Canva is a free, online tool that you can use to create graphic designs for your blogs, informational documents, e-books, social media covers, etc. Canva makes graphic design amazingly simple for everyone by bringing together a drag and drop design tool with a library of more than 1 million stock photographs, graphic elements and fonts.
Working in the cloud has become the new normal. As a virtual assistant using cloud-based programs has also become my new normal. Fact is, I love being able to access my files from anywhere, anytime on any mobile device or computer with an internet connection. Life happens and with me being the mother of seven, everyday I wake up it’s a new challenge. Being a mom first is what satisfies my soul the most and I love being able to go on field trips with my kids and be an active part of their lives which is why I decided to start my own business in the first place. Not having to be at the office in front of my computer gives me freedom and flexibility to be that supermom and business woman I was destined to be. This same principal applies to you and your solo practice. I mean let’s face it, attorneys are supermoms and superdads first and then attorneys and this same sense of freedom is why you decided to be go into practice for yourself, right?
I am helping a solo attorney start a virtual practice and thought this information would be useful.
It is estimated that solo attorneys spend almost 50% of their time on things other than practicing law. Reality is that in order to earn the type of money as a solo attorney that you would being an associate at an actual firm and to feel like it is worth continuing in a solo practice you need to dedicate at least 90% of that time actually practicing law. Running a solo practice can be awesome, but it is not for everyone.
Before starting my VA business I worked in an brick and mortar law firm for many years as an assistant to two partners who dedicated timeless hours to building their practice. There are a lot of nuts and bolts that make the wheels turn for a successful practice like client intake, accounting, reporting, marketing, etc. As you know, one of the most important aspects in the practice other than keeping your overhead low is having a good case management system.
Cloud-based practice management software offers several benefits that help lower costs, provide transparency to clients and streamline communication. Cloud-based practice management software can provide all you need to run a law practice from intake to invoice. Some of the features include managing cases, clients, documents, appointments, bills, time-tracking, reporting and accounting. There are many different ones out there and they vary in their compatibility as far as the features offered. When selecting a case management program, determine your needs first this will save you on trial and error. However, most offer free, no obligation 30-day trials so you can try different ones before actually making the choice on which works best for your practice. If you decide that you like that particular solution you can make monthly payments instead of making large investments up front.
As an attorney you understand that laws and regulations change and how important it is to stay on top of those changes. Cloud-based law practice management software stays up-to-date on those changes and allows your practice to remain compliant with the latest regulations.
The internet is full of information on cloud-based law practice management software. This article I thought was really useful and it gives you a comparisons on the different softwares. https://jurispage.com/2013/law-practice-management/the-best-law-firm-case-management-software-an-in-depth-comparison/
If you have suggestions on the different software or have comments please feel free to share!
LinkedIn is currently one of the fastest growing social media platforms. If you think your ideal client isn’t using LinkedIn, then you are certainly wrong.
Professionals are signing up for an account at a rate of more than 2 members per second. It is more than likely that there are quite a few people out of the millions on LinkedIn who could be a potential client or referral source.
As more and more people create profiles every day, lawyers have an unprecedented opportunity to connect online with people in their target market.
“I just don’t have time to blog” I have heard business owners say time and time again. I am also guilty of saying this myself. What is blogging? How do I blog? I am a small business owner, how could blogging help me? This mindset or just the question/answer process might keep a business owner from choosing to blog. Ultimately, the choice to “not blog” for someone who has never blogged before or even someone already running an established business just seems like the right thing to do. Mainly because let’s face it, learning to do something new in an already overwhelming situation is just torture and becomes frustrating. I mean think about it, you are already overwhelmed by all the issues of running the business, finding new clients, marketing, coming up with fresh ideas, and the list goes on and on. I mean who really has time to blog? Well that answer is simple, you do!
Fact is, BLOGGING IS MARKETING, marketing means more customers and more customers mean more money! Blogging is an inexpensive way to gain visibility for your business. How is that possible? Well, blogging helps drive traffic to your website which means more opportunity for you to show up in search engines like Google and, the more traffic to your website means more exposure to potential clients. Social media is a wonderful platform for blogging as well. Every time you write a blog post, the information that you share to the world is now available for your social media connections to share with their connections which helps expose your business to a new audience. Social media has endless possibilities for exposure!
For those business owners that are just full of information in their field, then blogging is definitely for you. Blogging is basically creating and sharing useful and/or helpful information. In other words, putting what you know on paper and sharing it with millions. How does that benefit me? Hands down, it makes you look like an “expert in your field” or the “go to” person. I mean who doesn’t want to look as important as they really are in the eyes of millions. The real question to ask yourself should be “how does that benefit others?” Blogging will allow you to write about issues your clients or potential clients are dealing with and gives them a solution to their madness. You can provide information or solve issues in a way that prospective clients can understand and offer some insight they wouldn’t find unless they sought professional help from an expert in that field. Well, they already have an expert in that field YOU!
To do or not to do? Definitely do. Blogging has many advantages and for me not only has it been a great marketing tool it has been an awesome filter and be very fulfilling. I mean really, all that knowledge in your mind could benefit a lot of people so don’t keep it to yourself, share! Blog for goodness sake!