Five Mistakes to Avoid When Working with a Virtual Legal Assistant

A virtuPicture of a virtual assistance in her office sitting at her desk with a computeral legal assistant can do a wide range of functions to help you maximize your time and use it for other essential tasks. A VLA can manage your emails, answer phone calls, do your bookkeeping, and prepare essential documents for you. 

However, not everyone who hires a VLA becomes successful in terms of how well they collaborate with each other. You have to make sure that you work harmoniously with each other to avoid confusion and delays in the completion of the task on hand. Although these mistakes are not intentional, they can still harm your relationship with your VA and affect the work significantly. 

What Causes Problems in Your Working Relationship with Your VA

If you want to maximize the benefits of hiring a VLA, try not to make the following mistakes:

 

  • Moving Ahead Without Building Rapport 

A good rapport is essential to build trust and make you comfortable working with each other. If you start doing business without building rapport, you may find it difficult to discuss sensitive matters about the job. 

When you work with a VLA, rapport is essential so that you can trust and rely on each other. If you know someone, you will be confident to delegate tasks that contain sensitive or classified information. Just like any other relationships, it will never work when you don’t trust each other. 

Bonus Tip: You can set aside an hour a week for a short video chat to know how things are going. You can talk about the job and even matters outside work to help break the ice. 

 

  • Dumping Instead of Delegating

Avoid dumping tasks to your VLA. Dumping happens when you assign tasks without giving clear instructions. Don’t delegate tasks randomly because this usually leads to poor quality of work. If something is not clear with the job done, you will be forced to redo it which means more time wasted. 

When you don’t give clear instructions, in the beginning, you will need to talk again and again to your VLA, and you’ll neglect your more critical tasks. 

Bonus Tip: Set a deadline that is acceptable for both parties. Put clear instructions and make sure your requirements are easy to understand. Review the final output and give feedback on the next steps before adjourning.

 

  • Failing to Find Out the VLAs Strengths and Weaknesses

Not all VLAs have the same strengths and weaknesses. Some VLAs may do well in preparing responses to oppose counsel while some have excellent organizational skills. It will be easier for you to assign specific tasks if you know where an assistant excels and what tasks requires him more time to accomplish. If you want to help your VLA (and yourself), delegate a responsibility that can be done within the time frame and assign other functions to other assistants who can do them better.

Bonus Tip: You can create a training manual for your staff, including your VLA to help them learn more about the tasks they may not be familiar with. There are applications available to help you with templates so it will not be difficult for you to begin the manual. 

 

  • Changing Your Work Style Frequently

Avoid making the mistake of assuming your VLA can quickly adapt to the working style you have in your office. A full-time employee can do that with much ease because they are with you in the physical office. However, in the case of a VLA, they can have their working style and own businesses to manage. 

One good example is the number of hours you complete in a week. If your work hours change from 40 to 60 hours a week, you cannot expect your VLA to do the same, especially if he only committed to 40 hours a week. 

Before deciding to hire a VLA, ask him plenty of questions about his working habits and styles and see if it’s in sync with yours. Be honest with your expectations and working method to avoid frustration on your part and your VLA as well. 

Bonus Tip: Make sure to set your expectations clearly before using a VLA’s service. 

 

  • Sending Mixed or Too Many Signals 

Consider your VLA’s time. It is more likely that your VLA has other tasks to do for other clients; that is why they don’t answer your calls at odd hours without notice. You may create a stressed working relationship when you keep calling at off-hours and request for last-minute changes. 

You also have to be mindful of how you communicate. If there are too many messages, or you send these messages through different channels, it can create distractions that can lead to substandard work. 

Bonus Tip: Try creating strict communication rules. You can accept phone calls and texts until 5 p.m., but beyond that, you will only entertain messages via email.