When you work as a Virtual Legal Assistant, you can choose to work as an employee or you can set up your own business. There are pros and cons to each arrangement. When you work as an employee, you don't have to invest any money up front or find your own clients, but your pay rate, work hours, and how you work will be more restricted. When you work as an entrepreneur, you face other challenges.
Over in Decatur, Georgia, Katrina Johnson sits back in her chair and smiles broadly. Her eyes are bright as she recounts her success story as a Virtual Legal Assistant and starting her business: ABC Virtual Assistant Services. “I am a 40-year old single mom with a profound passion to help others fulfill their entrepreneurial dreams. My purpose is to help those who have the desire and idea but lack the knowledge to get their business off the ground. I have worked in the legal field for approximately 15 years and have acquired a lot of knowledge that I don't mind sharing with others to get them on the road to becoming their own boss.”
Wow! Someone with the talent, knowledge and expertise to help newcomers reach new heights along a new career journey. Talking to Katrina, you have to wonder how she started her successful Virtual Legal Assistant business. Here is a motivated, talented woman succeeding in a hot new cottage industry.
“The idea for my business was birthed back in 2016 but was halted when my father fell ill and my mother needed my support and assistance in caring for him. While my father's health was failing, he was and still is my biggest cheerleader. I shared my idea with him before his health got critical. He was excited at the idea of me working for myself, which made me want to move things along faster. I lost my Dad in February 2017 and decided that once I was financially able, I would pull the trigger on starting my business. That day came to pass in January 2018 and I have not looked back since the start of my business."
Going into business was a longtime desire. Her childhood was not an easy path. “I grew up in East Lake Meadows, one of the harshest and crime ridden government housing developments, formerly in Atlanta, Georgia; the housing project has since been revamped”, she says. “I decided one day that I wanted to be a go-to person for small businesses. I figured since I had been so successful working with other small business over the years, it seemed like a no brainer to go into business for myself, aiding smaller business or start up. I felt like I had a plethora of knowledge, patience, and attention to detail, all things I feel are imperative in running and operating a small business. I decided that I wanted more control of my time. I did not want to go back to school, so after much research and critical thinking, the field of virtual assistance found me.”
What does it take to become a Virtual Legal Assistant? “I have worked as a Personal Injury Paralegal, a Real Estate Closer/Pre-Closer, Administrative Assistant and Data Entry Clerk,” she says, “and also for a very small time, a cashier at AutoZone. I researched this specialty thoroughly on Google before entering.”
As with many paralegals, no one really says, “When I grow up, I want to be a paralegal.” That is like saying, “When I grow up, I want to be an actuary.” So, what did Kristina think she would be when she first started out? “I always felt like I was destined for a grander purpose and I felt by deciding to venture out onto the entrepreneurial playing field, the worst-case scenario was, I failed. In my many years, I have culminated the ideal that failure is a part of the path to success and that if I don't try, nothing happens.”
There are ups and downs in any career. What is the most interesting aspect of her job? “The most interesting thing about my job is that I get to meet phenomenal people with their eyes set on their passion. I get to be in on the ground floor of someone's lifelong dream coming to fruition and that is a feeling for which I do not have words.”
While the Virtual Legal Assistant handles many different and diversified assignments, helping clients to succeed is one of the primary high points of the career. “I am presently in negotiations with a client who desires to start a staffing service. I have helped her, on a preliminary basis, by engaging in a bit of research on her target market, her competition, and her Secretary of State licensing information,” she says. “I feel that a lot of people lose their desire to start their own business because of the "hindrance" called administrative tasks. While I understand that, that should not be a deterrent. I like to put myself in a situation where my clients handle the meat and I take care of the sides, giving them an opportunity to focus of the product or service they are selling.”
What does she dislike the most? Ah, the consummate politically correct answer: “The only thing that I dislike is that there are only 24 hours in a day. My clients are awesome!!”
A critical strategy for Virtual Legal Assistants is to continuously analyze the growth pattern of the business. “I am satisfied with where things are. Along with the clients I have now, I am looking forward to obtaining more. With the use of craigslist.org and word-of-mouth, I anticipate that I will be getting more clients very soon. At present, I am serving three clients, two attorneys and a small business on the horizon from the ground up. Because I only started my business in January 2018, I have already excelled past my original goal of getting at least one client within the first 6 months.”
Planning the future is an important strategy. “In the future, I would like to move into doing some business consultations where I am brought in to advise a business on how they can operate more efficiently, less costly, and how to generate more revenue.”
The career is not without its challenges. Katrina’s biggest challenge is juggling being a full time Mom. “It can be a bit challenging,” she says, “but Mom is my most important role and I make it work. I make it work well.”
Katrina is sensible about starting a Virtual Legal Assistant business. “Starting my business has not been costly at all. In fact, the most expensive thing I have paid for since I started my business is my credentials to start my business. I used Legal Zoom and I've already seen what I paid Legal Zoom ten-fold.”
What advice does she have for someone getting into this arena? “Be patient, understanding, and steadfast. I love what I do and I can't wait to start the next chapter of Business Consultations.”
16 Websites to Help You Find a Virtual Assistant Position
Where do you find virtual assistant jobs? Whenever you are working as a virtual assistant, you are going to have to find virtual assistant jobs for yourself. Thankfully, this is something that you can do online if you know where to look.
There are a number of free job listing websites that will list virtual assistant jobs. This may not be the best way to find a Virtual Legal Assistant job as few seem to be listed. However, a good, diligent search will uncover several. Many of the jobs that you will find on these websites are small, short jobs that need to be done quickly. While this can be a great way to build up your skills and get your name out there, these jobs are not going to pay you a lot of money. Be careful that a number of these websites charge a small fee. This fee will either need to be paid whenever you get the job or once the job has been completed.
While there are many websites for finding virtual assistant jobs, there are none strictly for Virtua Legal Assistants. These websites are seeking Virtual Assistants already set up in their own businesses to join with them.
Here are just a few you can explore and register your new business or apply as a Virtual Legal Assistant:
• 24/7 Virtual Assistant
• Assistant Match
• VaVa Vitual Assistants
• People Per Hour
• Fancy Hands
• Red Butler
• Time Etc.
• Virtual Assistant USA
• Virtual Staff Finder
Create a Website
In order to find a Virtual Legal Assistant job, you are going to first need to create a website. The website can simply list your qualifications, contact information and payment terms and a list of what you can do including specialties. It doesn't have to be anything fancy or flashy but a simple, professional-looking website to help you obtain clients.
Don't Underestimate Referrals
Make sure that you communicate with your clients. Remember, it is different whenever you work from home because your "boss" cannot see you hard at work. It is important to make sure that you respond to your client's emails and phone calls promptly. By doing so, you will create trust, put your client at ease and show that you really are a competent online Virtual Legal Assistant. Make sure that you provide high quality work and meet all critical deadlines. Whenever you know that you have done these things and that your client is a happy camper, ask them to give you a referral. This way, you will be able to help your business continue to expand.
Make Networking a Regular Part of Business Development
It is important to join at least three networking groups, either online or in person, because no one will know that your business exists unless you get the word out. You can find these groups on Google. Network with paralegal associations, Bar Associations, and other related organizations such as the ALA - Association of Legal Administrators.
Get on Facebook and LinkedIn. Find related groups who can use your services. Think in terms of hanging out where attorneys and hiring authorities are most likely to be found.
Spend Time Marketing Yourself
Make sure to consistently market your virtual legal assistant business. Find websites that will allow your resume to be viewed by numerous businesses. While these websites may charge you a small fee, this can be a great option because it will allow serious long-term employers to find you. Utilize social media. If you don’t know how, find someone who can show you.
Check Out Other Virtual Assistant Websites
Take time to look at other similar websites. Many will tell you if they are looking for a virtual assistant.
You are going to need to be patient whenever you are looking for online Virtual Legal Assistant jobs. In most instances, it may take between four to six months to land your first client.
Starting down the path to a new career can be fun, risky and rewarding all at the same time. With the trend towards working from home growing by leaps and bounds every year, this new career can ultimately offer you a missing element from your present situation. Investigate and discover for yourself whether this journey is right for you. And who knows? Here may be the magic career path you have ultimately been seeking!
Chere Estrin is the CEO of Estrin Legal Staffing; CEO of the Paralegal Knowledge Institute and President of The Organization of Legal Professionals. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.