Originally written for Clio but is reposted with permission.
You may have seen any number of tweets or blog posts in the past year suggesting that robots are going to either replace or greatly assist lawyers in the decades ahead. The thought is truly fascinating, sure, but did you know that you can already find the legal assistance you need and you don’t need to read a manual, learn computer programming, or take out a loan to buy it? In fact, you don’t need to train them, worry about payroll tax, or make sure you have an empty office where they can sit. They are virtual assistants and paralegals and they are ready to help you take your practice to new heights in 2015.
Perform Routine Administrative Tasks
Using a cloud-based practice management solution like Clio certainly frees up massive amounts of time by keeping your files and data organized and easy to access. However, despite the massive efficiency gained by using Clio, every minute spent setting up a new matter or updating contact information is time that you could spend growing your practice by volunteering on a non-profit board or taking a prospective client out for coffee. A virtual assistant (such as CuroAssist) that is integrated with your Clio account can free up valuable time when you task them with creating new contact profiles, setting up new matters, or maintaining existing instances of both with newly collected data such as updates to your custom fields in a collections action. Simply email your virtual assistant, submit a request, or create a task in Clio and watch the annoying but necessary maintenance work be completed while you focus on value-added work for your clients.
Collaborate on Discovery
As the discovery phase of litigation becomes less and less dependent upon paper, it has become increasingly possible to use a virtual assistant or virtual paralegal to help organize and prepare discovery responses, search and sort discovery provided to you, and to collaborate within cloud-based e-discovery platforms. Primarily, the existence of cloud-based document storage inherently provides for collaboration with a remote assistant or paralegal when provided with electronic documents and files. However, when using a properly equipped and trusted virtual assistant, you can simply direct respondents to send discovery documents directly to your remote staff so that they can be scanned, OCR’d, and uploaded to your cloud-based document storage platform, such as Nextpoint.
Prepare Automated Documents
An oft-overlooked Clio feature that integrates perfectly with virtual assistants is the document automation engine. To really practice more efficiently, you can task your virtual assistant to set up the desired custom fields in Clio, create a list of those custom fields, and then add that list to the relevant matter. Then, send your virtual assistant the necessary documents by email, share access to your third-party cloud storage, or simply upload them into Clio and send them a task to open the documents and to propulgate the relevant fields. Finally, your virtual assistant can use one of your custom templates to create a draft Complaint for you to review and to sign (and, if you are in a jurisdiction that allows e-filing, you can task your virtual assistant to file it on your behalf).
The days are over where the use of a virtual assistant required providing them access to your network through a corporate VPN, a desktop viewing program like LogMeIn, or the unsecured and ethically questionable sharing of your email account login. Instead, you have just entered the golden age of efficient and cost-effective remote staffing through widely-used cloud email, document storage, and practice management tools. Make it your goal in 2015 to try delegating some of the aforementioned tasks so that you can market yourself and create your best year ever!