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Virtual Paralegal Training


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  • 04 Jun 2020 2:01 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Establish yourself as the alternative – Let’s say you approach an attorney or paralegal and offer your virtual paralegal services; they responded, “I already have one”.

    You reply: “I am sure you are happy with your paralegal. Here is my contact information. If anything changes, please give me a call.”

    You cannot assume that because they already have a paralegal, they are satisfied with their work.

    Get them to talk about their paralegal – Ask them, “What do you like most about your paralegal?’ “Would you recommend her to your collogues?” If they answer no, ask: “Why do you keep her on staff?”

    If they like their paralegal, follow up with “In what areas do you think there is room for improvement”

    They may have hired this great paralegal years ago that have now become less-driven but they put up with their lack of abilities and motivation because it’s easier than starting over with the recruiting process.

    Highlight a service characteristic – Say you have found a more cost-effective and time-saving way of getting a project done. Ask the client how their paralegal prepare and deliver that service; then highlight how you can do it better.

    Frequency of contact – A major reason clients leave is the lack of contact or attention.  Talk about the different ways your business communicates with your clients to keep them updated on projects from start to finish.

    Baby steps – Start small, ask the client for a trial project, something their paralegal wouldn’t be working on, just to figure if your working styles compliment each other in case there was a need for your services in the future.

    In the end, the best ways to beat your competitors is to always provide great client services and exemptional paralegal work. Bear in mind your best prospects are someone else’s client and your best clients are your competitor’s best prospects.

    Notice price wasn’t discussed in any of the examples because you are only establishing yourself as the alternative for a client who either doesn’t’ feel they are getting enough from their paralegal or doesn’t know yet.

  • 04 Jun 2020 1:55 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    In all type of businesses including virtual paralegals, you must know the needs of your clients before you can market to them. The best way to know your clients is to ask them directly what you can do to improve their legal practice or research how you can make their work-life easier so that they can focus on practicing law.

    Most virtual paralegals have years of experience working with attorneys. They know that attorneys are often busy and have very little time for certain tasks; therefore, they rely heavily on their support staff. There is no difference in the type of support that an attorney needs from his in-office paralegal than he will require from his virtual paralegal.

    A virtual paralegal would be an asset to any legal team but first you need to educate your clients on the benefits you would bring to their legal practice. For example, a virtual paralegal already offers all the benefits of a staff paralegal just for a lower cost. Virtual paralegals can significantly lower their clients over-head costs by at least 50%.

    Training and confidentiality are usually the most concerned issues for attorneys when hiring and working with virtual paralegals.  It is important that you are qualified and experienced in the services that you offer. The standard requirement for virtual paralegals are a minimum of 3 years’ experience in a specialized practice area.

    In addition to your qualifications; you must have a confidentiality policy in place to assure the attorney that using your services will not violate any laws or harm their clients.

    When marketing to an attorney or law office, you should first find out if they already have a paralegal or legal assistant on staff.

    • The paralegals in the law offices are usually the attorneys’ gate-keepers.
    • They get rid of the junk before forwarding the “important” mail to their attorneys.
    • So, how should you package your marketing materials so that the paralegal would want to forward it to their attorneys?
    • First you need to outline the benefits you can offer the law office even if they already have a paralegal on staff.
    1. Offer to cover for the paralegal on sick days, vacations and after-hours.
    2. Offer to assist the paralegal when the office gets busy without the attorney incurring the overhead costs that comes with hiring additional staff, temporary paralegal or paying overtime.


  • 04 Jun 2020 1:52 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    The legal industry is entering a period of change driven by growth in technologies, coronavirus and the current economic conditions are putting pressure on law firms to reduce the price of legal services; one clear way of cutting costs is by allocating the work to cheaper providers such as virtual paralegals.

    This is of interest to in-house attorneys and general counsels who are working hard to reduce their expenditure on external law firms while streamlining their own legal departments. Solo practices and small law firms are also looking for ways to lower their over-head costs.

    In a research report, it is predicted that by 2021, online workers including virtual paralegals will be worth $5 billion as the demand for online virtual work continues to grow. The coronavirus has forced courts, attorneys and law firms reluctant to convert their legal practice to virtual to immediately implement remote practices.

    Our list below sets out the major trends that will impact virtual paralegals in the coming years.

    Coronavirus

    The Coronavirus has changed how all industries operate their businesses including legal services. During the pandemic most paralegals were forced to work remotely, giving law firms and legal departments crash courses on how to implement virtual paralegal services into their legal practices. The results are, some firms have decided not to renew their brick & mortar leases and others offered their paralegals the option to work from home on a full-time or part-time basis.

    The Coronavirus has also resulted in unprecedented furlough and lay-offs which has forced some paralegals to launch virtual & freelance businesses.

    New Market Opportunities

    The source of demand for legal services is changing, and the legal industry is being forced to transform itself to embrace these new demands. General practice type activities will be given over to technology and progressive law firms in the next year will be looking towards class actions, cybersecurity and health care industries as major sources of growth and new work. 

    E-Discovery

    Ever since electronically stored information such as emails, messages and calendars have been made discoverable for litigation in 2006, law firms have been seeking out paralegals and support staff that can manage technology and e-discovery systems.

    Social Media Networking

    Social media has changed the way that law firms and legal professionals recruit, find work, connect with clients and build their professional profiles. Technology-savvy virtual paralegals will find it easier to connect with clients.

    Budget Conscious Law Firms

    Rather than hire full-time or part-time paralegals cost-conscious firms can seek the services of virtual or freelance paralegals when necessary.

    Changing Nature of The Legal Market

    As general legal services are outsourced or automated, the demand for expertise in niche fields of law will increase. Law firms in the future will be looking to employ paralegals that can add value to their firms through their experience and specialized knowledge of the firms’ area of expertise.

    New Billing Models

    In-house legal departments are putting pressure on their law firms concerning their dissatisfaction with the traditional billable hours structure of charging clients.

    This is forcing law firms to adopt new models for billing their time, including making the price for tasks more predictable such as utilizing the skills of virtual paralegals and using Customer Relationship Management software to manage the expectations of their clients. These changes in client-lawyer relationship could lead to some law firms hiring virtual paralegals instead of full-time staff.

    Virtual Law Firms

    The increase in web-development technology, payment systems and mobile platforms have made it possible for some lawyers to leave the traditional law practice structure and work remotely.

    Most new lawyers are starting small firms and solo practices out of law school.

    Outsourcing

    In the interest of cutting costs and increasing efficiency, many law firms are looking to domestic or overseas contractors to complete legal work. More law firms and corporations are outsourcing paralegal and secretarial functions.

    There is a growing market for virtual/freelance and contract paralegals. Per Forbes.com there are 53 million freelancers in America today. By 2021, 80% of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers including virtual paralegals.

  • 04 Jun 2020 10:54 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Before launching your virtual paralegal business, you must conduct market research to find out if there is a demand in the market for your services. Some practice areas are primarily offered by large law firms and are rarely provided by sole practitioners, small law firms and in-house legal departments.

    Doing your due diligence can mean the difference between success and failure, and it doesn't have to cost a penny.

    There are two main types of market research that businesses conduct to collect the most actionable information on their services: primary research and secondary research.

    Primary research is the pursuit of information on your target markets and their clients. You can use online surveys, LinkedIn groups, legal associations and more to gather details on the challenges that attorneys and law firms face when growing their legal practice.

    Secondary research is all the data and public records you have at your disposal to draw conclusions from. This includes trend reports, market statistics, legal content, you already have on your business. Secondary research is particularly useful for analyzing your competitors.

    To begin your market research and how to implement the results checkout the following blog posts:

    Is there a demand for Virtual Paralegal Services?

    Information Virtual Paralegals need about Solo Practitioners & Small Law Firms Survey Results

  • 04 Jun 2020 10:52 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Coronavirus has changed how all industries operate business including legal services. During the pandemic most paralegals were forced to work remotely giving law firms and legal departments crash courses on how to implement virtual paralegal services into their legal practices.

    To begin your research to find out what services are in high demand, start by browsing attorney’s directories. This will give you an idea of the number of attorneys listed in your state, city or county that could use your services.

    In addition to attorney’s directories; job and salary websites are also great resources for researching your practice areas demand.

    The greater the job postings in your practice areas; the more likely your services are in demand.

    However, do not be discourage if your practice areas are not popular on job websites; this just means that you must work harder to find the attorneys and law firms who provide services in your niche areas. Also, in some cases, niched areas pay more than generalist because of the specialization and demand.

    The second part of your research should focus on your competitors. Draft a competitive analysis.

    Conduct an online search of other virtual paralegals in your practice areas and evaluate their services and figure out how you could be different.

    The third part of your research is your target clients. Are you going to focus on solo practitioners, small law firms or in-house legal departments? What are the needs for your services that would benefit each group?

    Don’t kid yourself to think it will be a one-size fit all. Deal sizes can vary among your target clients in addition to language, geography and volume of work requests.

  • 04 Jun 2020 10:40 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)
    • Solo practitioners and small law firms primarily service clients who earns between $36,001 and $179,000
    • Their clients include middle to low income individuals, small businesses, and non-profit organizations.
    • They build their clientele through friends, family, community, Pro-Bono and referrals.
    • Ninety -four percent still uses an hourly fee structure while 88% charge flat fees.
    • Google is the number one legal resource for solo practitioners followed by Case-Maker, Online Trial Court Library, MCLE and West Law.
    • Support services often outsourced by solo practitioner and small law firms include investigative, paralegal and deposition, clerical, technical and accounting support.
    • The most challenging aspects of a solo practice as it relates to paralegals are:
    • General office management
    • Managing time at work
    • Hiring, training and supervising staff
    • Legal research

    The top 10 practice areas for solo practitioners and small law firms are:

    1)    Estate Planning & Probate

    2)    Real Estate Law

    3)    Elder Law

    4)    Litigation

    5)    Consumer Law

    6)    Family Law

    7)    Bankruptcy

    8)    Criminal Law

    9)    Immigration Law

    10) Labor Law/Management

    Attorneys reported spending nearly 40% of their workday on tasks other than practicing law. 70% of respondents said they spent too much time on administrative task that would be better assigned to a legal assistant.

  • 04 Jun 2020 10:38 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates your services from competitors.

    Branding is just as important for virtual paralegals as it is for law firms. Start by writing down all the characteristics that describe your business and how you would like it to be perceived. Branding is your promise to your clients about the type of paralegal you are and the services they will receive when they hire you.

    Here are four things to keep in mind for your brand development.

    Brand message. What are the key messages you want to communicate to your clients? Are you the most reliable virtual paralegal? Are you known for going the extra mile for your clients?

    Design your logo. Place it on all you marketing materials: website, blog, social media, stationery, and email signature.

    Design business templates. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don't need to be fancy, just consistent.

    Be true to your brand. Clients won't return to you or refer you to someone else if you don't deliver on your brand promise.

  • 04 Jun 2020 10:37 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn are free social media platforms that virtual paralegals can use to directly engage with attorneys and law firms. 

    • Follow influential attorneys on social media.
    • Retweet their informative posts.
    • Buy eBooks, attend webinars, conferences, read blogs and articles for attorneys and law firm who you admire.
    • Post links to content from your blog as it relates to your services.
    • Post an interesting question about your practice area on legal group platform.
    • Give clients an incentive to join your mailing list.
  • 04 Jun 2020 10:34 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Mycase.com, a legal management platform survey of solo practitioners and small law firms showed 76 % maintained an online presence. They spend an average of 1.6 hours using online communities and social networking for professional purposes.

    Fifty-seven percent of lawyers maintain a professional presence on LinkedIn while 73% have a personal account. Compare to Facebook where only 25% of lawyers maintain a professional account and 27% have a personal presence.

    Google+ comes in third followed by Twitter with 23% and 21% respectively of lawyers who maintain a professional presence. Only 9% of solo practitioners maintain a blog.

  • 04 Jun 2020 10:29 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    There are competitors in every business; another virtual paralegal figuring out ways to take your clients and cut into your bottom line.  Growing your business without understanding your competitors is risky.

    Market research can prepare you for changing markets and prevent your business from being left behind by the competition. Market research involves collecting and analyzing information about your industry, including your customers and competitors.

    There are different types of competitors, for example, your main competitors are the virtual paralegals you know by name.

    Your secondary competitors are the virtual paralegals you don’t feel threaten by because they appear less successful than you or they do not offer services in your practice areas. 

    It does not matter how you view your competitors; you must keep in mind that they are doing all they can to attract your clients to their business.

    If you do not know much about your competitor’s business operations, make sure to do so soon! It is to your advantage to know as much as you reasonably can about the details of their businesses.

    It is important to research your competitors and know where they are in the market and what they offer to your target clients. Researching other virtual paralegals will help you to position yourself well in the industry.

    Study their ads, brochures, FAQs and social media. Figure out what are they doing well and what are they doing poorly that you can capitalize on.

    Go beyond the basic Google search and set up Google alerts to track your competitors.

    Use Social Mention. This tool allows you to track and determine what the online public are buzzing about.  It informs you of people’s feedback not only about your services and your company, but also other services, or any other topic across the social media webosphere. 

    Change Detectionnotifies you of your competition’s web activities and prompts you of any new developments.

    Alexa offers free web analytics to help you in searching for businesses online and evaluating their presence on the web.  In addition to that, it can optimize your website or page with audits covering Search Engine Optimization, security, performance, tags and so much more.

    Social Crawlytics is one of the leaders in social sharing analysis tool.  It is a simple free tool that can show you how popular or unpopular your page contents are.  Crawlytics offer a great way for you to learn more about your competitors’ content marketing.

    Attend legal conferences and interact with other virtual paralegals online and off-line. Speak to them about their business. Follow them and interact with them on social media. Subscribe to their newsletters and blogs.

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