Virtual assistants come from an array of different backgrounds, with different education, work and life experiences. At Virtual Gurus we’re proud to work with a talented pool of VAs from all walks of life, including many with a background in law.
Heather Prescott is one of our many talented legal VAs. She is a paralegal who has worked in law firms of all sizes for over 20 years, mostly in litigation as a legal assistant. We sat down with her to talk about how an assistant with a strong legal background can be a driving force for higher efficiency at any firm.
Heather noted that, while the client and customer care skills that someone with a background as an executive or administrative assistant has can come in handy, there are nuances that make specialized VAs a must for law firms and legal departments.
“It helps to have actually worked in the legal area because there are court procedures, specialized documentation and unique billing procedures that another admin wouldn’t know about,” she said.
“Some other tasks legal VAs can do that regular VAs can’t include drafting contracts, assisting in pre-trial preparation, and transcribing depositions (examinations for discovery),” she listed.
Confidentiality also plays a pivotal role in litigations and Heather notes this is something that VAs with a legal background have instilled in their frame of mind. “ Solicitor-client privilege is of utmost importance.”
A legal virtual assistant can often help in areas beyond core legal functions. Many legal VAs have a versatile skill set that can be applied in other departments to help streamline processes and increase efficiency. “Lots of lawyers use their own legal accounting program, but knowing accounting in general is also helpful."
Heather added that her accounting skills came in handy during her time as a paralegal, since she had to bill all her clients at the end of each month. She was also able to establish a billing process for one client who had not billed any of her clients for an entire year!
Writing correspondence is another area where legal VAs tend to excel. They can draft letters between lawyers, or to a lawyer’s client directly, being familiar with the wording and nomenclatures used in legal correspondence. All of that writing practice makes them well-equipped to handle non-legal correspondence as well, whether that’s drafting invitations to your events or internal staff communication.
You might wonder whether legal assistant work can effectively be done remotely. After all, court transcriptions and documentations are usually done in person or at the lawyer’s office. Heather says this isn’t a problem.
“It can easily be done. So as long as the lawyer is able to provide the recording for example, then transcripts can be done remotely. Same with legal research - it can easily be done by searching various courthouse documents online.”
The flexible schedule that many VAs maintain can also come in handy for lawyers, who may require someone to work on a different schedule beyond the typical 9-5. “It’s more convenient because we’re not necessarily on a set clock or a 9-5 schedule," said Heather. "It can still be challenging if the lawyer wants to work 24/7. But I think it's usually convenient for both parties. You just need to find a good match between VA and law firm.”
Heather adds that some things can seem challenging at first, but there’s nothing that can’t be overcome with good communication, planning and organization.
If you’re interested in working with someone with a legal background like Heather’s just start a chat, book a discovery call or call us directly at +1-888-504-4449.