Virtual Paralegal Training Center

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Virtual Paralegal Training


  • 03 Jun 2020 6:30 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    If your business delivers great services and starts to grow, you will certainly need some way of managing your projects. Your projects can fail if you do not create the foundation to support its success. All virtual paralegals must adhere to the following guidelines when managing their assignments.

    • Prioritize clients’ assignments based on deadlines and the size of your projects.
    • All work assignments must be completed within the time frame, preferable before the deadline or as promised to client.
    • If the virtual paralegal believes that they may not meet the client’s deadline, she should notify the client within a reasonable time frame to have the client approve an extension or make other arrangements.
    • Notify your clients whenever you are going to be unavailable.
    • Set up voicemail and email alerts whenever you are not available including instructions on who the client should contact during your absence and whether you will be checking voicemail or email.
    • Check all your clients against your conflict database for potential conflicts of interests.
    • Agree upon a final fee for completing the project.
    • Have your client sign the necessary agreements to protect you, your client and your business.
    • Discuss the assignment thoroughly with the client to make sure you are both clear on what is expected of you and the client for the project.
    • Agree on a realistic deadline for the project that works for both you and the client.
    • Deliver your assignment as promised and as expected.
  • 03 Jun 2020 6:24 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    When your assignments are completed the following steps should be taken to make sure that your filing and billing procedures are kept up to date.

    • Inform your client that the matter is now closed.
    • Return all originals to your client.
    • Mention all originals returned in the cover letter to your client.
    • Sent your client a copy of their online file.
    • Inform the client of your storage procedures.
    • Send your client their final invoice.
    • Send thank you notes to your client.
    Ask your clients for feedback, testimonials & referrals.
  • 03 Jun 2020 6:23 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    The foundation of solid business record keeping is learning to track your expenses effectively. It’s a crucial step that allows you to monitor the growth of your business, build financial statements, keep track of deductible expenses, prepare tax returns, and support what you report on your tax return.

    §  Before launching your virtual paralegal business, you must determine the type of payments you will accept from your clients such as checks, credit cards, PayPal and/or mobile billing.

    §  All time entries should be entered daily.

    §  A detail explanation of work performed must be included with time entries.

    §  Client’s invoice should show the breakdown of each assignment and charges.

    §  You should create your business policy to invoice your clients within 15-30 days of completing their projects, if you did not require full payment upfront.

    §  All checks should be deposited immediately.

    §  If services are paid in cash clients must be issued a receipt.  A copy of the receipt must be scan to the client’s file.

    §  Copies of all checks and money orders must be scanned and placed in the client’s file.

    §  You should not continue to accept personal checks from a client whose check was returned in the past.

    §  Going forward you should only accept certified checks, money orders, credit cards or PayPal.

    §  Online business accounting software such as, FreshBooks, QuickBooks or Xero.com can help you organize your business accounting.

  • 03 Jun 2020 6:17 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Billing procedure addresses three tasks in the billing process, which involve collecting the information needed to construct an invoice, creating invoices, and issuing them to clients. There are several types of billing arrangements that can be made between you and your clients.  Below are billing arrangements commonly used in the virtual paralegal business.

    Types of Billing Arrangements

    • Hourly Fee Charges are based on the amount of time it takes to work on your client’s project.
    • Flat Fee Depending on the project, you may charge a one-time fee known as a flat fee to complete the work on your client’s project from beginning to end.
    • Retainer Fee - You could have your client pay you a fee to be available should they have a need in the future for administrative and paralegal services.
    • Expenses - Costs incurred by the client because of payments the paralegal has had to make on the client’s behalf.  These may include court filing fees, express or postage fees, court reporters, or other clear-cut costs.  Expenses may also include charges for travel, mileage, or other indirect and out-of-the-ordinary expenses.

    Regardless of the method used to arrive at the fee, you should ensure that you understand and agree with the scope of the assignment, the method chosen for establishing the fee, and the calculations that will be used to arrive at the final amount due.  

    In addition to your billing arrangements you should have in place billing policies and procedures to avoid any payment misunderstanding with your clients.

    Clients should not be billed for quick questions or emails. Clients should be told when they are being billed outside their original contract or agreement. A copy of your billing policies must be included in your clients’ welcome package.

  • 03 Jun 2020 6:10 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    One of the perks of owning a virtual paralegal business is tax deductions. However, be careful that you do not become a victim of an IRS audit.

    You should track every business expense with your CPA at the end of each year to ensure you only take legitimate deductions. Tax obligations vary depending on the legal structure of the business. If you’re self-employed (sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership), you’ll claim business income on your personal tax return.

    Corporations, on the other hand, are separate tax entities and are taxed independently from owners. Your income from the corporation is taxed as an employee.

    Self-employed people need to withhold taxes from their income, and remit these to the government in lieu of the withholding that an employer would normally conduct.

    Below are some possible tax-deductible items to consider:

    • Advertising
    • Banking fees
    • Business and paralegal association membership dues
    • Business travel
    • Charitable deductions made for business purpose
    • Computers and technology supplies
    • Consulting fees
    • Continuing legal education
    • Discounts to clients
    • Entertainment for clients
    • Equipment and equipment repairs
    • Gifts for clients ($25 deduction limit for each)
    • Home office
    • Incorporation
    • Interest
    • Legal fees
    • Newspapers and magazines subscriptions
    • Office supplies and expenses
    • Outside services
    • Parking and tolls
    • Postage
    • Safe-deposit box
    • Software and online services
    • Subcontractors
    • Taxes
    • Telephone
    • Utilities
    • Website design
  • 03 Jun 2020 6:03 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Collecting debt from clients is a painful reality of doing business. However, the pain can be reduced if you institute a process and procedure for collecting debt.

    • Communicate with your clients to understand why their bill is unpaid.
    • If your clients are confused about your billing, make sure to explain it to them.
    • If your clients have questions about your billing, respond promptly to your clients’ questions.
    • You must have a written agreement that clearly outlines yours and the client's responsibilities and the agreed upon schedule payment.
    • If you have complied with the terms of the agreement, you should contact the client concerning non-payment.
    • Do not contact the client concerning non-payment until after the agreed payment date is past due.
    • However, it is important to contact the client soon after they have exceeded their payment timeline.
    • You may contact your client in person, by mail, telephone, or email and in some cases you may text your clients.
    • Never contact your client before 8 am or after 8 pm  concerning a debt.
    • Be sure to keep notes of all telephone conversations such as the date, time and the telephone number you called when trying to collect a debt.
    • Always keep copies of all written correspondence.
    • You may consider working out a payment plan with your client.
    • You may discount the debt.
    • If you discuss a settlement agreement verbally, always follow up with the detail of the verbal agreement in writing.
    • Depending on the circumstances, offer to compromise or to mediate.
    • You could write off the debt.
    • Above all, beware that if you violate the debt collection laws, your client has a right to sue you in state or federal court.
  • 03 Jun 2020 6:02 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Bookkeeping is the day-to-day process of recording transactions, categorizing them, and reconciling bank statements. Good record keeping will help you to account for your business expenses when filing your taxes. It will let you know when you are making or losing money, and how much money your business is making or losing.

    Being organized will also let you know if your business is on good financial ground. You should always use a budget to control expenditures. Keep your cancelled checks; you will need them to support your debt write-off. Open a separate bank account for your business to keep your personal expenses separate from your business expenses.

  • 03 Jun 2020 5:59 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Use this checklist to ensure that you're saving the right financial records for tax purposes and keeping them for an appropriate amount of time. The following financial documents must be kept indefinitely:

    • Income tax reports, protests, court briefs, appeal
    • Annual financial statements
    • Income tax payment checks
    • Documents substantiating fixed-asset additions, depreciation policies and salvage values
    • Corporate documents, including certificates of incorporation, corporate charter, constitution and bylaws, stock, stock transfer records, minute books, retirement and pension records, labor contracts and license, patent, trademark registration and applications 

    The following documents must be kept for 3-6 years

    • Sub-ledger – 3 years
    • Cancelled, payroll and dividend checks – 6 years
    • Bank reconciliations, voided checks, check stubs and register tapes – 6 years
    • Sales records such as invoices and monthly statements – 6 years’
    • Personnel and payroll records, such as payments and reports to taxing authorities, including federal income withholding, FICA contributions, unemployment taxes and workers’ compensation insurance – 6 years
    • You will need to keep your self-employed records for five years and LLC or partnership records for six years after the latest date your tax return is due.
  • 03 Jun 2020 5:31 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    One of the best ways to protect your business from legal liability and misunderstandings is to make sure that your clients and independent contractors sign the necessary agreements before you start any business relationship with them.

    Legal contracts and agreements are essential part of managing a virtual paralegal practice.  Your welcome package should include your business policies; procedures as well as your contracts and agreements.

    The most commonly used contracts and agreements in a virtual paralegal business are:

    • Client Intake Form
    • Independent Contractor Agreement
    • Confidentiality Agreement
    • Retainer Agreement
    • Fee Agreement
    • Privacy Agreement
    • Conflict Agreements
    • Billing & Collection Policy Agreement
  • 03 Jun 2020 5:29 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    More than half of America's businesses are home-based, per the U.S. Small Business Administration. Starting a business in your home doesn't mean your homeowners insurance will adequately protect your operation.

    "A typical homeowner’s policy provides about $2,500 of coverage," says Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute. That usually will cover equipment but it won't offer liability protection or cover you for lost data or income.

    The important thing for any business owner to do when starting out is to have the right type and amount of insurance coverage.

    In general, virtual paralegals have the following options for business, notary and personal insurance.

    • Homeowners policy endorsement: This is added to a homeowner’s policy to increase coverage on business equipment. There also may be the option to buy a homeowner’s liability endorsement for protection in the event someone — say, a delivery person-is injured on your property
    • In-home business policy: An in-home business policy provides more comprehensive coverage for business equipment and liability than a homeowner’s policy endorsement. These policies, which may also be called in-home business endorsements, vary significantly depending on the insurer.
    • Business owner’s policy: Also, called a BOP, this plan offers the most comprehensive coverage for small- and mid-size businesses. It protects against many of the same things that in-home business policies do but offers even more coverage. 
    • Independent Contractor Liability Insurance: Professional Indemnity Insurance, sometimes referred to as Independent Contractor Liability Insurance, provides protection for independent contractors against potential liability for claims arising from clients. For a claim to be successful the client would need to prove that the contractor has been negligent.
    • FreelancerUnion.org: is an organization that provides personal insurance including but not limited to health, dental, disability, life and retirement for the self-employed.
    • The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE): is a resource for self-employed and micro-businesses. NASE focuses exclusively on the needs of businesses with ten employees or less, or "micro-businesses. NASE offers entrepreneurs a wide range of resources and tools to help them run their business such as:
    • Legal help
    • Home office insurance
    • Credit cards
    • Office supplies
    • Website design
    • Travel services, including rental car fees and hotels
    • Notary Public Errors and Omission Insurance: If you are a notary public you should get errors and omission insurance to protect you and your business. In addition to errors and omission insurance most states require a notary to purchase Notary Bond to protect the public, not the Notary, from negligent mistakes or dishonest acts by a Notary. You can purchase errors and omission insurance and Notary Bond from the National Notary Association.

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