Why you need virtual staff


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5 ways your legal practice should be using virtual staff

Running a legal practice isn’t always easy. Not only is the work detailed and high-stakes, but the people in your organisation may not have the training required to run an efficient operation. You might be a fabulous collection of lawyers, but you could find yourself continually bogged down on business matters that are outside of your comfort zone.

Most legal practices go down the traditional route and hire support and admin staff in-house but, of course, doing so comes with a host of downsides, not to mention the expense. The good news is that there is an alternative: virtual staff. Virtual staff can do many of the admin tasks you dread, freeing you up to get on with legal work, all at low cost.

Check out the following five ways that your legal practice should be using virtual staff.

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To Answer Incoming Calls

Answering incoming calls is a massive drain on your time. When you work in the legal sector, every minute counts. You want to make sure that you’re providing legal advice for the whole of the time you spend speaking with clients, not arranging your timetable. Legal professionals routinely charge more than $200 per hour. Every lost minute, therefore, is lost revenue for your practice.

Most law firms get around this issue by hiring an in-house receptionist, but there’s a cost to this: underutilisation. Receptionists in your organisation don’t take calls from clients all day. You’re often paying more than you need for their call answering services. Much of the time, they’re idle.

The answer to this puzzle is to use virtual staff who can process incoming calls from clients, arrange appointments and pass on pertinent information to you. And the best bit? You only pay for the call answering services that you need: great if you operate a small practice.

To Gather Information About Clients

Gathering information, such as a client's name, address, and the type of legal services that they need takes time. Again, it’s not something that you want legal professionals doing. It’s much better for your practice overall if your solicitors and lawyers focus on the nuts and bolts of individual cases and let other people get on with the support work.

Again, here’s where virtual staff can help. While staff can’t provide any legal advice, you can use virtual assistants to collect information from clients at low cost and enter them into your system. Not only does this save time for your legal professionals, but it also improves the client experience. When a client speaks with your lawyers, they want every minute to count. They don’t want to have to pay high fees for routine things like fact-finding and form-filling.

To Arrange Your Schedule

Arranging your schedule can become a full-time occupation in itself. Managing dozens of clients, each with shifting timetables of their own, can be a nightmare. Unless you’ve got support, it’s complicated.

Again, you don’t want the legal professionals in your practice wasting their time organising their schedules. It’s the sort of thing that you can do for much less with admin staff. You don’t need to cut into lawyer time.

Virtual staff can take care of the scheduling of all of the legal professionals in your practice. Often, a single virtual admin assistant can arrange the timetables of a dozen lawyers and solicitors, cutting costs, and negating the need for you to hire a full-time receptionist in-house. Virtual staff use special, cloud-based scheduling software, or fit into your existing system - whatever you need.

On top of that, they are able to alert you of double-bookings, cancellations, and customer inquiries. Your people are free to adjust their availability whenever they want, increasing flexibility and helping all the backroom work run smoothly.

To Handle Enquiries

Enquiries often take a long time to resolve. It’s not uncommon for a legal professional to be on the phone for an hour every day, processing routine calls with standard answers. These calls are a major drag on time, but they're vital because they are often the gateway to gaining a new client.

Traditionally, a receptionist would take up the slack, respond to a standard set of enquiries, and then book clients with a legal professional for in-depth legal counsel. But the same problems apply here as in the cases discussed above: the cost of the receptionist and the fact that you don’t need them to answer calls all day long.

There’s another issue too: when you hire a single receptionist, you risk losing business. A customer might call your practice wanting to grab an urgent appointment, but if your receptionist is dealing with another customer, they might dial another firm.

Virtual staff help you get around this problem. Instead of a single person, you can get a pool of people, all trained to handle enquiries for your firm. If one is busy, your prospects filter through to another. You don’t miss any opportunities to gain new business.

To Provide Executive-Level Support

Running a legal practice isn’t easy. Not only do you have to contend with difficult cases and emotional clients, but you also have to deal with regulatory issues too. Many legal firms, therefore, stand to benefit from executive support.

Executive support can include all kinds of things from sending client invoices to preparing training materials. It’s the sort of thing that helps to make operations run more smoothly at legal firms and adds a professional veneer.

Legal professionals must often travel out of the office to court. Executive support helps lawyers and solicitors with their travel plans, saving them time and, hopefully, money.

Executive-level assistants can also do things like arrange income emails and faxes to correspond to particular clients. You can also train them to alert you in specific circumstances, such as when a client indicates that they want to take legal action.

Your legal practice, therefore, stands to benefit in many ways from using virtual staff. Remote workers reduce your administrative burden while freeing up your legal professionals to get on with their work.

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