Hi. I’m Kimberly Hanlon. I’m an attorney and I also own MoreLaw Minneapolis. Attorneys have asked me about working with virtual assistants – whether that’s a good idea or not, if It’s economical, and whether I’ve had a good experience with it. I’ll start with my experiences – I have a virtual assistant named Sue who I’ve worked with for the past year and a half and she is amazing. She handles my court filings, gets hearings set, and handles some of my client communications for some ongoing cases.
I also have a newer virtual assistant named Liz who is handling my calendaring, helping me update the website and doing social media, scheduling the cle’s and other programs we offer at MoreLaw, and more general administrative tasks. I only work with Sue through email and phone, and I work with Liz through email and phone, but she also comes into my office for a few hours each week – mostly because she lives down the street and it’s nice to meet face to face. It would work just fine if she didn’t come in, though.
The thing I love about my virtual assistants, in addition to their being fabulous, is that we all get to be really flexible about how we work. I have enough work to keep them busy part of the time, but not all of the time, and they both have other things going on, too. I love it that I pay for the hours they work, and I get everything I need done, but I don’t have to pay for them to wait for me to assign them the next thing.
I also love it that they each do what they do best. If I had either one of them all the time, but they had to do everything, it wouldn’t work as well. Sue isn’t up on technology and such, and Liz would be lost if I sent her to the courthouse.
From my experience, working with virtual assistants has been great. So, here are my tips for making it work:
1) Get your virtual assistant through a trusted source. Sue came to me through my friend Michon (who’s an attorney), and Liz came to me through my friend Sarah (who’s also an attorney). If you don’t have someone you can get a referral from, then use a trusted commercial source.
2) Know what you want them to do, so you can pick the best person for the job, and figure out how you want them to do it, so that you can give good instructions.
3) Have them do what they like to do and do best. Don’t try to have one person do it all, unless that’s what they like and are good at it.
4) Pay them well. Just because they are working virtually doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get a fair wage. Plus, you are really saving so much by not having to have them on the books all the time, so there’s no reason for you to be stingy.
5) Be clear in what you have them do. I think one of the reasons my relationships with Sue and Liz work so well is that I give them defined projects with clear instructions. On the rare instance that I am not pleased with the results I get back, it has always been a glitch in my instructions. Either I gave them a wrong bit of information or I left something out. Using checklists really helps, too.
6) Show your appreciation. Because I have Sue and now Liz, I am freed up to be doing things that are a better use of my time, like lawyering work, getting more clients, and expanding my practice. I am infinitely grateful because I get to do what I love doing – plus I get to make more money while working less. I thank both of them every day I work with them. I have them know that I appreciate them – and I think it makes a difference for them, too.
Okay, so that’s it. Don’t be scared of trying out a virtual assistant. Get a good recommendation or use a trusted commercial provider like MoreLaw, and try it with just one project. See how it goes. Once you see how you can get the pile of work you hate to do and can’t get around to doing off your desk plus make more money at the same time, you will be hooked.
Remember – if you don’t have an assistant, then you are one!
by Kimberly Hanlon
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