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.


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!!


Think Outside The Box May 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 11:18 am
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When I first decided to start a freelance secretarial business, I worried it would be a difficult concept to sell. I still worry actually! But when I read this article from Law Practice Today I realized that so many services are already outsourced by lawfirms and businesses that my fears are unfounded.

Virtual assistance (legal or otherwise) may not be a “job” people are well aware of, but for visionary people it’s actually a logical step forward in the rapidly changing business market. After all, what business owner doesn’t need to free up some time? What business owner doesn’t want a skilled and experienced assistant to tackle at least part of their to-do list? And most importantly what smart business person wouldn’t want maximum benefit at minimum risk?

A freelance administrative professional provides all the help a business owner needs in a manner that is time and cost-effective. It’s a smart solution if you can just think a little outside the traditional “box” of in-house secretarial staff.


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.


Call Me What You Like May 7, 2008

As I started making plans for my business I of course thought long and hard about my business name. I chose to use “Secretarial Services” as the descriptive portion. I frequent a couple of virtual assistant message boards and this topic comes up a lot. Most on those boards seem to prefer the term “virtual assistant” but at the same time there are many threads discussing how they always seem to be explaining what a virtual assistant is. I didn’t want to waste valuable time explaining what I was, when I could spend that time explaining to potential clients how I could help them. That’s what it is about for me – helping the client grow and improve their business. Secretaries help their bosses in that way. They are behind the scenes but on the front line all at the same time – that’s what I will be to my clients – a helpful presence who makes life easier!!

I was therefore thrilled to read this post by Carol Ann Wilson about being proud to be a legal secretary. It reminded me of the virtual assistant discussions and it also reminded me of my days working in lawfirms. Our names kept changing – legal secretary, legal assistant, paralegal. And yes I know they don’t mean *exactly* the same things (depending on who you ask especially) – essentially we all worked to support the lawyers and the clients. Personally, I say call me what you prefer – as long as I get the chance to show you how I can help you and your clients!


I Almost Have it All May 5, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Laurie @ 8:00 am
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All the things suggested by Telecommuting Diva as needed to start a home based business that is. I just need a better printer (preferably one with a scanner) to use in my home-based secretary/paralegal business.

Personally though I’d add a few things to her list:

  • Business cards
  • marketing plan
  • website
  • accounting software (open source is fine)
  • chocolate for the stressful days!

I’m working on these things – business cards are designed, marketing plan is ongoing, website started, planning to buy quickbooks this month and I ALWAYS have chocolate around!!!


Virtual Paralegals for Hire, My Thoughts April 18, 2008

I loved this post over at The Great American Lawyer blog. In my career as a legal assistant/paralegal I mostly worked with lawyers who lacked innovation – they were great lawyers but it took years for them to adjust to changing technology in the law office. Most of them wouldn’t be fond of p/t employees let alone telecommuting ones!

I am glad to see in the blogging world that there are many out there who already are using virtual paralegals or law clerks though – it certainly gives hope to those of us who aspire for a home-based paralegal practice.