Specializing in Virtual Legal Assistance

Legal Assistance – Virtually Everywhere! July 9, 2008

I have just been getting my virtual legal assistance practice off the ground (in fact my website is currently under construction now that I’ve hired a web designer!!) and sometimes I have worried that lawyers won’t be comfortable hiring a virtual legal assistant. Maybe they won’t be comfortable with me being so far away or won’t be sure that I truly understand the nature of confidentiality rules and ethical practices. In my previous job they weren’t even fond of telecommuters because they felt it wasn’t protective enough of the client’s documentation. Really I think they just didn’t trust any of their employees to work without supervision.

So I was heartened to read this post over at Home Office Lawyer. Grant uses a virtual assistant, so it was no surprise that he is comfortable with the concept. Still it was good to see it so clearly set out and I LOVED the post he referred to by Stephanie Kimbro of Virtual Law Office Technology, LLC. I’d highly recommend you check out Stephanie’s post if you are at all interested in retaining a virtual legal assistant/virtual paralegal for your law practice.


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!!


Blawgging June 6, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 4:53 pm
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I just have to share this post about lawyers and blogging from Real Lawyers Have Blogs. I loved this post because it really addresses the heart of why I personally like to blog and why I LOVE to read blogs (especially law blogs (blawgs!)

I love how real blogging is – that it puts you right in touch with the writer in a format that often allows for discussion and expansion of the original topic. I love that many blawgs give lawyers a chance to demystify what they do and therefore make a case for how useful and beneficial their work can be. Lawyers often have a bad rap in society, but in my experiences working with lawyers I have seen that they care about their clients and they want to help them. They spent years in school and then usually many more years acquiring the experience to handle the cases and work the courtroom and they generally charge a rate that is in accordance with those years of experience and skill. Yet the average person thinks that they overcharge or underperform and why? Because the communication isn’t real when they face off lawyer vs client in a stuffy boardroom in a downtown office. Blawgging lets clients see the person in the law office – the one who works hard and worries about the outcome and who has a responsibility to the client, their staff and themselves to do the job right, even at a higher financial cost.

So keep the blawgging going – it is a wonderful tool and experience for us all.


How Do Virtual Offices Work Anyway? June 1, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 9:32 am
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Christopher McKinney supplied a wonderful guest post over at Home Office Lawyer. The post provides a great explanation for one way a virtual-based office can work for a lawyer. Christopher uses a setup similar to what I’m planning on working with.

It’s funny, although understandable when you look at the sheer numbers of people and logistics involved, but it seems like a lot of sole practioners or small firms are able to work with these more advanced and portable case management systems that aren’t easily available within big law firms or government firms. At least not the ones I have worked with! When I worked with the govt only certain individuals had access to laptops, let alone the software for case management – it just wasn’t in the budget. Now that I’m on my own, I can have a great setup because I don’t need 3 levels of managerial approval – it’s all up to me!


Lawyers and Technological Change May 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 9:19 pm
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It can be hard for any of us to embrace new technology, but a recent article from law.com addresses how lawyers in particular have trouble embracing advances that would improve their work experience (and probably their bottom line too!)

It certainly has been my experience that lawyers can be cautious about embracing technology. I know of many sole practitioners who were hesitant to even get internet in their offices – they were more concerned about abuse by employees than the many benefits online access could offer.

Personally, my favorite technological advances are the ones that reduce my dependence on paper! I have found in my years of legal assistance work that the legal system uses entirely too much paper. I want to get away from this when possible and try to go paperLESS (not paper-free)!

I am looking to upgrade my scanner soon to a high quality one so I can scan everything into my computer. I’m going to use an electronic fax system so that I can receive faxes by email and only print when absolutely necessary. I’ll also have an automatic off-site backup system in place soon so that I don’t have to worry about a computer crash causing me to lose everything. I keep my computer drives pretty “clean” and organized, so I know that using my computer for organizing all my documentation is going to be a great system for me!

I’m curious – what is your favorite technological advance? Leave me a comment to discuss!


Challenging Tradition May 15, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 8:43 am
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I first read about the company Fairway Divorce Solutions a few months ago in Alberta Venture magazine.  Now I see an article about it in the Financial Post and I’m so glad.  Divorce is a sad and often ugly process and I love that there are alternatives coming into existence.  I’ve worked as a legal assistant in a couple of firms that did divorce law and I enjoyed certain aspects of it but always felt that mediation would be very helpful to a lot of clients.  It’s pretty tough in an emotional and volatile situation to step back and really come to a resolution that works for everyone but it’s definitely the best choice, especially when children are involved.

I would so enjoy working with a company like this, or lawyers that try to  use a similar approach (it certainly can be done, although the legal process often brings out the adversarial nature of people).

I like to think of virtual assistant and paralegal services as being another way of challenging tradition.  We all need to remember that there are many ways of accomplishing tasks and goals – just because we’ve always done things a certain way doesn’t mean it is the best solution for our businesses or our clients.  Virtual professionals can be so cost effective and efficient it is a wonderful alternative to traditional office models of practice.


Networking May 8, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 11:32 am
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This post from Self Made Minds was a great one about networking. I find it interesting that on my va boards a lot of people think of networking as connecting with other va’s. I enjoy that form of networking but don’t expect much return out of it. I hang out on those boards for interest and a little bit of education. I plan to network for my secretary/paralegal business in several ways:

  1. local Chamber of Commerce
  2. Women’s Enterprise Centre meetings in the nearby city
  3. Connecting with fellow bloggers (especially lawyer bloggers)

I definitely think networking in person will be the best strategy for me (but hey, I could be wrong!) to start out with.  I am the type of person who enjoys the contact so it will benefit me by giving me a place to meet fellow business owners/entrepreneurs.