The legal profession is one that has been around almost as long as the human race. Lawyers play a critical role in society by ensuring that justice is upheld and order is maintained. But being a lawyer comes with its own set of unique challenges, including intense pressure and demanding workloads.
For many, the most critical issue is time—or lack thereof. One example given by The Law Society in the UK suggests that setting a modest target of 1400 billable hours per year works out at approximately 6 hours of billable time per day. Based on traditional working hours (a 37-hour week), this leaves just one hour to complete all other non-billable work.
Lawyers may be extremely skilled, but they’re not superhuman. Based on a recent legal trends report, the average full-time attorney ends up working 2.8 hours more per week than they plan to. This equates to 140 additional hours of unplanned work each year, the equivalent of roughly 3.5 working weeks.
When 54% of attorneys report feeling burnt out, and 78% attribute their decline in well-being to a heavier workload, this is clearly a troubling trend that needs to be addressed. Thankfully, there is a simple, yet highly effective, first step that lawyers and attorneys can take to help create a better balance in their lives. Outsourcing regular tasks is the key to reducing the weight of your responsibilities and the pressure of time.
But which tasks are best suited for outsourcing? And how exactly can a virtual assistant help?
What is a virtual assistant?
A virtual assistant, or a VA, is an independent contractor who provides professional support from a remote location. This means that they can work from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection.
Part of what makes virtual assistants so appealing to business owners and executives is that they are considerably more flexible and cost-efficient than a traditional full-time employee. This grants them the ability to tap into wider talent pools and find candidates who are best suited for the task at hand.
How a legal virtual assistant can help
For many attorneys and lawyers, the stress of preparing legal documents, attending court proceedings, staying organized, and keeping on top of your workload can get pretty overwhelming. But despite not being legal practitioners (although it’s not uncommon for VAs to have a background in law), a virtual assistant can offer significant relief by taking some of the pressure off your shoulders and allowing you to do more of what you do best.
For starters, here are some tasks you should consider handing over to a virtual assistant:
1. Scheduling and calendar management
According to the findings of a recent survey, it is estimated that lawyers spend up to 20% of their working hours managing their calendars–the equivalent of a full working day each week, or ten full working weeks per year.
While the time you spend in client consultations, court appearances, internal meetings, and even conferences may be unavoidable for those in the legal profession, there are undoubtedly far better uses for that 20% of your hours. With a virtual assistant, this crucial element of your working life can be easily and effectively taken care of. The time you save means more time to research and prepare for cases, or more space in your schedule for billable hours for clients (and more money in your pocket!).
A virtual assistant can help keep your schedule meticulously planned, and be on hand to remind you of any upcoming appointments or important deadlines so nothing gets missed or falls by the wayside. Not only that, an experienced virtual assistant can handle any travel arrangements in your calendar. Don't waste your time scouring the internet for flights, accommodation, rental cars, or the best places to eat while you’re there. Leave it to your VA, and give yourself more time to focus on what matters.
See: How to Share Access to Your Calendar With an Assistant
2. Email management
In today’s digital world where communicating is quicker and easier than ever, it’s hard to imagine life without email. But despite being a wholly necessary tool, it's all too easy to get caught up in our inbox and spend much more time there than we need—willingly or not.
According to recent reports, the average person spends 28% of their workweek reading and responding to emails, yet only 38% of emails in the average inbox are important or relevant. So that's at least 13 hours every week, or over 81 full working days per year. Managing your email is now almost like an extra part-time job that adds little to no extra value to your workday.
The solution here is not to give up email entirely, of course. It’s still an essential way to communicate and keep important information and decisions in writing. The key is to be more intentional and strategic about how you use it. Hiring VAs can help make email work for you again, instead of against you as a productivity killer. They can help keep your inbox free of distractions and junk, sort your emails based on priority, and even reply to some on your behalf.
3. Audio and video transcription
Those in the legal profession often have to deal with a large amount of audio and video recordings. Witness statements, video interviews, body-cam footage, and recordings of calls to emergency services, to name but a few. Not to mention, many court proceedings are recorded for accurate documentation.
Of course, the spoken details in audio and video evidence are much easier to review in the form of text, rather than having to replay clips over and over again.
The industry standard for transcription is said to be a 4:1 ratio—one hour of transcription time for a 15-minute-long recording, for example. But there are many factors that can affect the time it takes to transcribe a particular recording:
- Audio recording quality
- Number of speakers
- Background noise
- Speaker “coherence” (i.e., do the speakers talk over each other? Do they speak quickly or slowly?)
- Regional accents
- Special transcript requirements, such as timestamps or true verbatim transcription
If, let’s say, you need to transcribe an hour-long recording, you can expect it will take you a minimum of four hours to complete. That’s a significant portion of your day gone, with not much to show for it. Hiring a virtual assistant for transcription tasks can free up a huge amount of time for lawyers, which can then be used for more productive tasks.
4. Website management
A professional website is a powerful marketing tool that can help attorneys and small firms get noticed. It enables you to showcase your experience, skills, and services to a much larger audience, and helps potential clients learn more about you or your firm before making contact.
It’s clear that in today's competitive market, having a website is essential. But first impressions can either make or break your chance to attract new business, so it’s vital to ensure your website is always up-to-date. Broken links, outdated content, poor-quality images, or inaccurate information can all impact a customer’s perception of the quality of service they’d receive from you. But as an attorney or lawyer, chances are that all the responsibilities in your hectic workload mean that finding the time to keep your website regularly updated and optimized is a lot easier said than done. Or, by prioritizing site maintenance, you’re being held back from working on more impactful work with clients.
The solution is simple: offload this task to an experienced virtual assistant.
There is an old saying that knowledge is power. In the field of law, this could not be truer. In any legal case, research is key in order to build a strong argument.
This is another area where a virtual assistant can be a valuable asset to an attorney or lawyer. Research can be incredibly time-consuming, and there may be times when you’re racing against the clock to gather all the necessary information you’ll need. An experienced VA can provide an extra set of hands to help you cover more ground, or free up your time to focus on other important aspects of your case.
See: How A Virtual Assistant Can Help You With Research
6. Data entry and file management
It’s unlikely that your success as a law practitioner will implode as a result of going back and forth between different programs to add information, but doing so definitely eats up valuable time and energy you could use for more impactful work.
A recent study reported that knowledge workers waste over 40% of their time on manual digital admin processes, while another survey found that 76% of workers can spend 1-3 hours per week simply moving data from one place to another. So if you can offload data entry from your regular workload, it can make a big difference to your productivity.
Inputting data is a great task to hand over to a virtual assistant, but keeping your information well-organized can help you maximize the benefits even further.
If you’ve ever felt like your computer was moving at a snail's pace, or that you’ve wasted valuable time searching for documents that you know are there somewhere, duplicate files and disorganized folders can often be the culprits. Another global survey of knowledge workers found an average of 4.5 hours per week is spent simply searching for specific documents.
Disorganization doesn’t just waste time, but it makes it more likely you’ll forget or misplace something. Losing track of important information could spell disaster for any lawyer or firm, so hiring a VA to manage and organize your files can help give you peace of mind.
What’s the bottom line?
We all have the same amount of time each day, but sometimes it can feel like we're constantly running behind. If you're an attorney or lawyer who feels constantly stressed, crushed by the weight of a never-ending to-do list, or like you're just not getting the results you want, it's important to remember that you can't be at your best when you're spread too thin.
Offloading some of your tasks to a virtual assistant is a great solution to reduce stress and reclaim valuable time in your day. Virtual assistants are an invaluable resource for businesses and professionals alike, so don't be afraid to explore the possibilities.
At Time etc, our mission is to help you do more, achieve more, and earn more by matching you with the best virtual assistants for your needs. We have a wide range of experienced professionals to tackle those tedious and time-consuming tasks that are holding you back. On average, only the top 2% make it through our 10-set application process to join us, so you can be safe in the knowledge that you’ll only ever work with someone with the right experience and skills. Not only that, we offer all our users a lifetime happiness guarantee.
Speak to our expert team to get started or try a skilled virtual assistant for free today.