How to Overcome the Fear of Hiring a Virtual Paralegal/Assistant – Blog Series

As an entrepreneur with two decades of experience, I help ambitious business owners, lawyers, and real estate agents, find ways to grow their business.  One of the biggest challenges my clients face before hiring my office, is making the decision to hire us in the first place.  As an entrepreneur, I understand how difficult it can be to make the decision to delegate tasks and assignments to a virtual assistant.  The way to overcome the fear of hiring a virtual assistant and costs associated with that decision is not easy, but it is doable.

The steps to overcoming your fear of hiring a virtual assistant is by far the toughest.  You need to truly evaluate your success in your business and what is holding you back from achieving your business goals. This is the only way you can gain a honest, look at your business.  Does your fear stem from the idea you lack the money to hire someone?  Or is it not knowing what you can delegate?Is it the fear of training staff?

I am going to outline some helpful tips over the next couple of weeks to assist with overcoming these most popular fears.

  • Week One is:  “How to Fit A Virtual Assistant Into Your Budget”;
  • Week Two:  “Delegate Suitable Tasks”;
  • Week Three: “How to Decide What to Delegate”; and the
  • Fourth and Final week: “How to Overcome the Fear of  Training Staff”

 

Week One – How to Fit a Virtual Assistant Into Your Budget

How to fit a virtual assistant in your budget is hard but not as hard as determining what to delegate.  We are going to discuss how you can fit a virtual assistant in your budget first, even though it is really the third task you must complete when deciding to hire a virtual helping hand. Why, am I going to discuss this first is quite simple, this is where most if not all my of clients struggle.

I usually suggest to my prospective clients when they are trying to determine how much they can fit in their budget, first begin by starting to evaluate their income or rate for their services. Then they need to decide whether or not to bill the virtual assistant or virtual paralegal fees to their clients as a costs.  For example, most of my company’s clients who are trial attorneys typically bill my services to their client under a paralegal rate on their clients’ bills. Some of my clients bill my services at the same rate I typically charge them while others may not.  Please keep in mind, if you’re attorney, you will need to check your state’s billable hour and fee requirements regarding what you are allowed to charge to your client as paralegal services and costs.

For example, in the state of New York in the case Francis v. Atlantic Infiniti, Index No. 19953/06 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., Queens Co. 2/7/12) the court took the position that the time spent on clerical functions (which could be handled by a non paralegal or  non attorney staff member should not have been billed at a paralegal’s rate, and the court consequently disallowed half those hours to be billed to client as paralegal rates.  This ruling should not stop attorneys from utilizing a virtual paralegal, the most important thing this you should take way from this ruling is make sure that you use your paralegal as a paralegal not a standard clerical worker.

The third suggestion I have for prospects, is look at how much it would cost for them to hire a part-time or less than part-time in house assistant, and make sure they look at costs such as electric, computer equipment, and office space.  Costs such as electric, computer equipment, and office space are costs that clients of virtual assistant or virtual paralegal do not have to carry.  These particular costs are the virtual assistant or virtual paralegal’s costs they have to carry and cover because they work from their own offices and are in business for themselves.

I typically share with prospective clients an easy to read and follow comparison chart, which lists average costs for both in-house assistants vs. virtual assistants. The chart looks something like this:

Full-time Employee

Hourly Rate of Pay                                                                                                          $20.00
Fringe Benefits @ 35% (Health/Dental/ Insurance, Retirement Plans)                                                                                                                                   $7.00

Overhead Rate @ 50% (Office Space, Equipment
& Office Supply Expense, UI Insurance, Worker’s
Compensation, Overtime Pay, Administration Costs)                                               $10.00

Total Effective Rate of Pay                                                                                            $37.00

Hours Per Year    2,080 hrs

Total Average Annual Labor Cost                                                            $76,960.00

This does not include paid breaks and socializing time spent in the office each day.  In addition, these numbers are a rough estimate and they do not take into account the location of your office and the economic rent level impact for your area.  Meaning that your office location may increase the costs of office space and rent required to maintain your in-house staff.

On the next part of chart, I have prospective clients look at the average cost one of my standard clients pay to utilize my company’s services.

A Virtual Paralegal or Virtual Assistant’s Average Annual Costs

Hourly Rate of Pay                                                                                                        $35.00

Fringe Benefits @ (Health/Dental/ Insurance, Retirement Plans)                         $0.00

Overhead Rate @ 50% (Office Space, Equipment
& Office Supply Expense, UI Insurance, Worker’s
Compensation, Overtime Pay, Administration Costs)                                               $0.00

Total Effective Rate of Pay                                                                                          $35.00

Total Hours Per Year  2,080 hrs

Average Annual Labor Cost                                                                       $16,800.00

This is only an average annual rate of compensation.  All hourly rates are solely based upon the type of services rendered.  This chart is to be used for comparison purposes only and does not guarantee any particular rate per hour from my office.  Depending on what types of services you and your virtual assistant or virtual paralegal decide is best for you, you can expect to pay an hourly rate of $35.00 up to $85.00 per hour.

The final step for my prospective clients is to discuss their findings of their budget with me so that we can  begin by working together to develop a fee schedule that is a win-win situation for my company and theirs.  This discussion may include my prospects sharing information with me, such as their billable rate, if there is a paralegal rate in their service contracts with their client, and if there is not a separate rate for specialties services in their contracts; how we can get one developed.

While we are making these budget evaluations, many may not immediately show you where the money will come from but it will give you a basic understanding of how much value you will receive by going virtual. Many prospects don’t see where the money will come from until they meet with me and we review their actual findings. During these invaluable free consultations; they answer a few more laser specific questions regarding their individual business.  We then can develop a customized service plan and action revenue-building plan, which we will eventually implement when they become an active client.

Come back next week for Week Two of Best Virtual Paralegal LLC’s: How to Overcome the Fear of Hiring a Virtual Paralegal/Assistant- Blog Series  where we will discuss “Delegating Suitable Tasks!”

Holly

Holly Sheriff is not attorney and cannot give legal advice; is not a substitution for an attorney. The author is a virtual assistant. Best Virtual Paralegal LLC is a full service virtual assistant company; offering specialized services through training and education to law firms, real estate agents, and small businesses. This article is the author’s personal opinion, comments, and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. 2012© All Rights Reserved. Holly Teel, Best Virtual Paralegal LLC

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