Specializing in Virtual Legal Assistance

VA Certification – Yes or No? June 25, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 8:11 am
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A resounding NO to this question from me! I’m of the opinion that experience in an administrative setting is the key to being successful as a VA, or at least one of the keys. Administrative experience will help you with your client’s work, but you will need some entrepreneurial skills also to help you run your business and you need to have some tech skills for the online and marketing aspects. A professional virtual assistant designation though? Not a requirement to me – maybe not a bad idea, but not a requirement.

Probably that makes this obvious but I have no official va certification, nor do I plan to obtain one in the immediate future. I do have an honors college diploma in paralegal studies and over 10 years of in-office experience so I think I’ve got the background aspect well under control.


Do you find work stressful? June 24, 2008

This is an older article I came across recently, but stress, not surprisingly, continues to plague lawyers and business people alike.

Work and life balance is a common topic in the work world, certainly with many people I know anyway. I know it’s on my mind. I love working – I love the challenge of difficult assignments, I love helping clients, I love the planning process! But without balance between my work life and my personal life I feel VERY stressed. I love my kids and husband and I need time to enjoy being with them. Don’t most of us need time away from work? Maybe we want to go to our kids’ soccer games or go for a long walk after dinner, or maybe we just want to sleep in on the weekends!

So how do we make it all work? For me the answer is starting my own virtual assistant business, but there are many other options!! Part-time work and flexible work arrangements are another great solution. Delegation is key for small business owners. Don’t get bogged down thinking you need to do it all or be everything for your company, balance can be achieved!!


Hanging Up My Out of Office Sign June 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 7:24 am

We’re heading on a mini-vacation for a few days – we’re going to visit Grandma! I’ll be back early next week – hope everyone has a beautiful weekend!!!


Name Calling and Target Practice June 16, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 10:41 pm
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I just commented over at the CVAN blog on a post called So What’s in a Title? The topic is one that I’ve discussed before but I always find it interesting and yet frustrating.  So many titles for similar yet just dissimilar enough job descriptions.

It’s no wonder I’ve worked for many lawyers with no idea how much I was capable of until we’d worked together a while.  I could have had anywhere from a legal terminology class to a college degree and called myself a legal secretary, legal assistant or paralegal.  The title doesn’t matter to me, but I do value my education, experience and abilities, which is why I like the term paralegal.  But where I live the Law Society hasn’t wanted paralegals providing services directly to the public and the name paralegal therefore isn’t all positive for targeting my marketing to legal practices.  I don’t want to be their competition – I want them to be MY clients!!! I love working with lawyers and helping on a file but I’m well aware that I don’t have a law degree.

Just call me Laurie and forget the title thing altogether!!


The Mommy and Daddy Track June 15, 2008

I read this great article at ABA journal about the daddy track and how men are now becoming concerned with having a good work-life balance, just as moms have been for so long.

I think men are more involved than ever with parenting. The expectations of women like myself and my friends have certainly evolved from what our parents practiced. We love spending time with our kids but we expect our spouses to be true partners in their care. It might not always work as well as we’d hoped, but it certainly is the goal. For example, my husband does daycare pickups when he is off work in time and has taken days off so I could attend a conference in another province. He cooks meals and gives baths and reads bedtime stories.  And he doesn’t do it as a “favour” to me – he recognizes it’s his job as much as mine.

Of course if men are really getting on the “daddy track” so to speak, it makes one wonder about how businesses will cope. No one is going to want to work overtime anymore it seems and in fact many people want the option of part-time or job-share arrangements rather than full-time work. At my last job there were several men who took some paternity leave (even fairly lengthy leaves in a couple of cases) and combined with the aging workforce I foresee a lot of changes to the way work is done. I personally hope more telecommute options become possible, as it is such a wonderful option for many. I live in a suburb of a big city in Alberta, and I save 45 minutes each way by not commuting. I can’t even imagine the lengthy commutes in much larger areas like Los Angeles or New York.

Of course a great choice for any parent is self-employment, especially if you can avoid the temptation to work too much!


Law Practice and Life Balance June 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 7:11 am
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Yesterday I read this article by Melanie Jester from Oklahoma Bar Journal Articles. It discusses work-life balance for lawyers. And then later yesterday I took my boys to the park and ran into a very nice lady, who it turns out is a lawyer on maternity leave and we discussed the topic of lawfirms and trying to have a career and a family.

I think balance is an elusive but achievable goal – it just takes having an open mind to doing things a different way. This is the part lawfirms struggle with I think – there is often a tendency to do things as they have always been done, since it has worked for so long. But there is a long list of ways to give your employees some flexibility while still achieving the firm’s goals and providing results for the client:

  1. Telecommuting -easily a top choice for workers – it allows work from home or really anywhere. For example a parent home with a sick child can try and get some work done if allowed the opportunity to access work files from home.
  2. Part-time work – another great option for some people. Some staff want more time for hobbies, travel, family etc., but they don’t want to give up their career either. I think that as the population ages we’ll really see a demand for this, as people who’ve worked so hard on their careers are ready to loosen up a bit without letting go altogether.
  3. Alternative hours – people have different “peak” hours in the day. My husband is a total morning person, I am best midday and I have a friend who works best late at night. If we all work 9-5 the reality is that we won’t all be performing optimally. Workers who can adjust their hours even somewhat to work around their natural inclinations will work harder and will appreciate the trust placed in them to show up and do the job regardless of if the boss is in and working the same exact hours.
  4. Flex time – put in extra hours and get time off later, it’s a simple and easy solution and I’m surprised more lawfirms haven’t taken advantage of it. It saves money on overtime costs and allows staff an occasional extra day or even half-day off.

I think the most important thing to note about all the above options is not only that they will be a wonderful benefit to workers but that they all offer rewards for the employer. Win-win in my books!


Women in the Law – Women in Business June 10, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 7:42 am
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I recently read this wonderful article from Canadian Lawyer magazine about women in the law. The article featured roundtable discussion from several prominent women lawyers.

It’s interesting to me to note that the concerns facing women lawyers are indeed the concerns facing many women in business. We all have to find ways to advance our careers, we all need to find ways to maintain balance and a personal life and we all have to overcome some obstacles along the way.

I think it was particularly interesting to me as just yesterday I was really thinking about what it means, even in this wonderful modern age, to have children and a career. My husband is a wonderful man who does A LOT around the house and with our kids. Still many things have always fallen to me as the mom – making the childcare decisions and the medical appointments, attending school functions (he comes when he can get away from work, but that is not always), etc. When both parents have careers it gets so hard to juggle all the things that need to be taken care of. And like the women lawyers in the article, you realize some things are going to have to give. Usually it’s your personal time – the time you might have spent with friends or on hobbies.

I don’t know if seeing the problems can help change them – but it is a start isn’t it?