Until recently, the concept of working as a virtual legal assistant was just that: a notion. Independent legal assistants/paralegals provided their services to attorneys, and a few brave people promoted virtual legal assistant services, but they were underutilized. Only 9% of the workforce used telecommunications in 1995. That figure has already risen to 37 percent, and it is not likely to fall any time soon.
How does one become a virtual paralegal?
You must become a paralegal before becoming a virtual assistant for lawyers. Formal paralegal education is preferred but not needed. Some law firms may even train their staff to serve as paralegals. Start as a receptionist or legal secretary and work your way up to a paralegal position, performing legal research and preparing papers, for example.
Some firms demand that paralegals have completed an ABA-accredited program. A paralegal can get one of four different forms of schooling. There are certificate programs, for starters. Certificate programs are generally completed in less than a year and vary in length. Then there are two-year paralegal studies schools that give associate degrees (or Legal Studies). Students can also acquire a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies by enrolling in four-year paralegal schools. Finally, there are certifications earned after graduating from college.
Successful virtual legal assistant companies generally have between 5 and 15 years of conventional legal firm experience before turning virtual. Working as a virtual legal assistant allows you to establish your prices, hours, and gives you the chance to contact a range of attorneys. To run a successful remote business, you’ll also need the proper equipment, technology, and resources.
Are virtual paralegals beneficial to attorneys?
Attorneys benefit from virtual paralegals for two reasons: time and money. Attorneys in small companies or who operate for themselves do not require a full-time paralegal. Lawyers interact with their virtual legal assistant at the touch of a button, rather than having a paralegal commute to the office on a variable weekly schedule. It is beneficial to both parties and saves money.
Furthermore, depending on where you reside, hiring a full-time traditional paralegal might cost about $43,000 per year, or more, owing to compensation, perks, and office equipment. Virtual paralegals are hired on an as-needed basis by attorneys. As a result, they rarely work full-time or obtain workplace benefits. Virtual paralegals are 50% less likely to leave the organization as well.
Remote work will continue to expand in the future, so now is a good time if you want to start working as a virtual legal assistant.