Friday, October 19, 2012

Five Reasons For New Lawyers to Hire a Virtual Assistant

You've passed the bar, you know what area of law you want to focus on, you may even have clients lined up - you're ready to practice law! But what about all of those administrative tasks that a new practice requires? They're time consuming and your time is valuable. Virtual Assistants are  cost effective. VA's are not full-time employees so you only pay for the time that you use, you don't pay for any benefits and there is no overhead as they have their own office and equipment. Partner with a good virtual assistant and get your practice off to a great start!!

Here are five reasons you need to hire a virtual assistant (VA):

  1. Office Set-Up and Organization: Let your VA place an order for all of your office supplies and necessary equipment and have them delivered. Don't let the 'virtual' in VA mislead you!  Your VA can spend a few hours setting up and organizing your office.
  2. Computer Software: Have your VA research the software needed specifically for practicing law, calendaring, email management, time tracking and bookkeeping/accounting. After you decide which programs you want, let your VA handle the job of getting everything ready for you to use and providing any training you may need.
  3. Creation of Forms: You can't practice law without forms and templates. Your VA can create the necessary forms you need in the appropriate format.
  4. Vendor/Supplier Accounts: Have your VA set-up accounts for services you'll need - copying, delivery and court filings, notary, tech support, phone services, etc. 
  5. Marketing: Every new business needs a marketing plan. Let your virtual assistant handle the details of making sure your marketing strategy is carried out. 
Check out my blog for ways your Virtual Assistant can help you with the day-to-day tasks of your law practice once the foundation is laid.

For more information : http://www.topnotchadmin.com

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My iPhone Apps

I finally relented a year ago and traded in my faithful and very adequate (I thought then!) cell phone for a 'smart' phone. This was scary for me! I'm not someone who you would consider tech savvy. I'm not the person my friends and family call asking for advice on what to buy or how to use it once they do buy it. But my daughters convinced me it was time to get 'smart.'  My daughter showed me the basics of using my phone - or so I thought!! First problem - how do I make a phone call??? I could get to my contact list, but where is that little green telephone looking button you have to push to initiate a call??? I finally had to send my daughter an email on the computer to find out how I could make a call. Ugh! My phone was smarter than me. Not good!! Needless to say, I mastered making and receiving phone calls and moved right along to texting. Which was much easier for me to learn.  A year later, I can honestly say, I don't know what I did before I had my smart phone.  I can leave the house and my laptop behind knowing that I am not going to miss anything!! I've downloaded (and sometimes immediately removed) countless apps to my phone. Here's a list of my current apps - categorized:

Preloaded (and not sure if they are even considered 'apps') but useful:

  • Mail - Love this! I can access all of my mailboxes from here. Receive, delete, respond...
  • Calendar - I use the notifications/alarms for this to remind me of upcoming events
  • Notes - Very, very useful. I use this mostly for when people tell me about good books they've read or movies they've watched they think I might enjoy!
  • Safari - I think this is my phone's web browser. I go to this app and then use google search
  • Weather - Not used much in sunny Phoenix, AZ, but it's nice to use when I'm traveling so I can see what the weather is like where I'm going
  • Maps - Couldn't live without it!!
  • Camera - Used almost daily!
Preloaded (not sure if they are even considered 'apps') and not sure why they are there:
  • iTunes - I think I know what this is for, however, I've never used it
  • Stocks - No clue and probably will never have a clue
  • Passbook - Seems complicated
  • Reminders - Isn't this what the calendar is for??
  • Newstand - I can't imagine reading a book or magazine on the iPhone screen!!
  • Videos - Can go away and I'd never miss it
Necessary for productivity:
  • RingCentral - The fax ma'am...just the fax
  • Credit Union - I can take pics of checks for deposit and never have to go to the bank!!!
  • Facebook - It's for networking!!
  • Twitter - Also for networking!
Strictly for Entertainment Purposes:
  • Pandora - Music, music and more music
  • Shazam - Never have to wonder who is singing again, because this will tell me! 
  • Scrabble - Hey, it's a brain game!
  • Words With Friends - Another brain game...
  • Foursquare - Helps my stalkers out tremendously...I check in at places for them
  • Video Poker - Helps pass the time when waiting in line.
  • I'd Cap That - My newest download and so entertaining...ads funny and amusing captions to your pics (sometimes the captions are x-rated though - use with caution around kids)
  • Instagram - A pic sharing app - I seldom use it and I'm not sure why I keep it
  • Voxer - Ugh!! My daughter uses this. It's like a walkie-talkie. Not sure of the purpose.
I know there are tons of other apps out there that would be helpful to me, so if you've got suggestions on must-have apps for iPhone, I would love to know what they are!!




Tuesday, October 16, 2012

National Bosses Day: I've Had The Best and The Worst

To compare bosses, this blog post will be both a rave and a rant!! Luckily for me, I've had more good bosses than bad. Unfortunately, my most recent boss was by far my worst...

When it comes to being an employee I'm going to toot my own horn and say that I've always exceeded at my jobs. I've always received excellent performance reviews, raises for a job well done and regular promotions. I give my jobs 100% and have always been praised by my bosses, and for the most part, always felt appreciated. I've worked for some very prominent attorneys in Phoenix involving high-profile cases and have always performed in a proficient, organized, thorough, professional and ethical manner (and always with a sense of humor!!), even though my jobs were demanding and a lot of times very stressful.  I've never been made to feel stupid or inadequate, until recently...

According to a popular website the following are attributes for a good boss:
  1. Fair
  2. Honest
  3. Understanding
  4. Approachable
  5. A good communicator
Thinking about my past bosses and this list of attributes, I realize that the 'best' of my bosses have had ALL of these attributes. That's amazing considering the case loads and responsibilities they've all had. I've always been treated like an 'equal' or 'partner' or a 'team member.' (Someone asked one of my bosses one time if I worked 'for' him and he said 'no, she works with me.')  When it comes to the bosses, I've been blessed. Until recently...

About 9 years ago, I left the legal field to pursue a career in behavioral health and direct care. I feel very passionate about caring for people and being an advocate for people with disabilities. (Trust me - it wasn't for the money!!)  This evolved into also caring for seniors. Ten months ago I went to work for a home health care agency as a CNA/Caregiver. Within a week I received a call from the owner of the company asking me if I would consider working as the Client Coordinator in the office. I took her up on it, as this seemed to be a perfect fit for me!! I would spend part of the time in the field doing Quality and Assurance visits, part of the time in the office handling issues and problem solving with clients and caregivers, training new caregivers, doing orientation for new employees when needed and being the assistant to the CEO (the owner). I was excited and enthusiastic and couldn't wait to start!! 

It took me approximately two weeks to realize that although I LOVED what I did, I LOATHED who I did it for. Was this woman for real?? How could someone in the business of caring for people be so UNCARING?  She doesn't possess one of the attributes of a good boss!! Nothing I did was ever enough or done the way she would do it (and her way is always right, even though I had to remind her a few times that what she was doing was unethical or unlawful). My clothes, hair and fingernail polish were critiqued on a regular basis and suggestions were made on alternatives. I was prompted on how to speak and told what was appropriate and not appropriate to say to clients even though clients, caregivers and case managers would praise me, my personality and the thoroughness and effectiveness of the job I was doing. It was a no-win situation for me (and anyone else that works for her).

I try to see the positive in people and find at least one good thing in everyone and focus on that. I tried this with her and couldn't find any positives to focus on. Needless to say, I no longer work for her. Now that I've had a couple of weeks to think back on some of the things I've witnessed her saying or doing, I can only feel sorry for her. I think she's so unhappy and dissatisfied with herself and her life that she has to try and make everyone around her miserable also. 

So...to my past bosses...

THUMBS UP TO:  WK, JM, DP, VL, DC, JB and BG, 

A HUGE THUMBS DOWN TO: PK






Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Part 4 of 4: How a Virtual Assistant Can Benefit You With Your Law Practice


  • Are you a solo practice attorney or small law firm with limited staff? 
  • Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with routine administrative tasks? 
  • Do you need more time to spend on billable hours?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions,  I have the solution!! Hire a virtual assistant who specializes in legal office management.  Over the next four days I will tell you how you can unload yourself of the burdens of your administrative tasks and free up your time to focus on your current clients, add more billable hours to your week and pursue new clients.

Part 4 of 4:

10)   Copying Service – When you need case files copied, let your VA arrange for them to be picked up and delivered.
11)   Bar Dues and CLE Requirements – Let your VA keep track of and make sure you are up to date on fees and requirements for the bar.
12)  Internet Research – If you need to know more about a topic, need information on specific services or want to take a trip and need travel planning, let your VA do the research for you.





Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Part 3 of 4: How a Virtual Assistant Can Benefit You With Your Law Practice


  • Are you a solo practice attorney or small law firm with limited staff? 
  • Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with routine administrative tasks? 
  • Do you need more time to spend on billable hours?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions,  I have the solution!! Hire a virtual assistant who specializes in legal office management.  Over the next four days I will tell you how you can unload yourself of the burdens of your administrative tasks and free up your time to focus on your current clients, add more billable hours to your week and pursue new clients.

Part 3 of 4: 



7)     File Organization – Your VA can maintain your client files by preparing new files and coming to your office occasionally to organize and file those loose papers.
2    8)   Billing – Let your VA assist you with preparing and sending out your client bills.
3    9)   Supplies – E-mail or fax a list of office supplies needed and your VA can make sure they get ordered and delivered to you.









Monday, October 8, 2012

Part 2 of 4: How a Virtual Assistant Can Benefit You With Your Law Practice

  • Are you a solo practice attorney or small law firm with limited staff? 
  • Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with routine administrative tasks? 
  • Do you need more time to spend on billable hours?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions,  I have the solution!! Hire a virtual assistant who specializes in legal office management.  Over the next four days I will tell you how you can unload yourself of the burdens of your administrative tasks and free up your time to focus on your current clients, add more billable hours to your week and pursue new clients.

4)      General Correspondence – Fax, e-mail or transcribe the information to your VA and let them prepare your correspondence for you and make sure it gets to the other party.

5)   Transcription - Dictate letters and memos for your VA to transcribe and prepare for mailing. Your VA can also transcribe client and witness interviews.

6)   Legal Documents – A VA can draft and finalize motions, pleadings, summons, complaints and subpoenas. After finalization, they can arrange for filing with the necessary court and service to opposing counsel.


Make sure you read Part 1 of 4 for more ways a VA can assist you!!




Saturday, October 6, 2012

Part 1 of 4: How a Virtual Assistant Can Benefit You With Your Law Practice:

  • Are you a solo practice attorney or small law firm with limited staff? 
  • Are you finding yourself overwhelmed with routine administrative tasks? 
  • Do you need more time to spend on billable hours?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions,  I have the solution!! Hire a virtual assistant who specializes in legal office management.  Over the next four days I will tell you how you can unload yourself of the burdens of your administrative tasks and free up your time to focus on your current clients, add more billable hours to your week and pursue new clients.

 How a Virtual Assistant Can Benefit Your Law Practice:

1)     
Calendar Management – Let your VA make your appointments, schedule your interviews and keep track of your court calendar. Your calendar can be accessed remotely so your VA can ensure you don’t miss any important dates.

2)   Telephone Calls – Your VA can make initial phone calls and return phone calls for you, freeing up your valuable time to work on cases.

3)    E-Mail Management – Your VA retrieves your e-mail, responds to routine requests and alerts you of items that need to be handled by you personally.








Friday, October 5, 2012

I'm Doing Something Nice Today

As any of my friends, relatives and some casual acquaintances will tell you, I can be very sarcastic. I'm actually quite fluent in it. It comes naturally to me, meaning that it just happens. I don't consciously think of sarcastic things to say. I just open my mouth and sarcasm spews forth. I've been complimented and envied on my sarcastic abilities. However, I also know that it can be hurtful. I have to make an effort NOT to be sarcastic sometimes. As I've matured, I've learned to 'read' people and put them into categories. Those who will appreciate sarcasm and maybe even 'spar' with me, or those who might get their feelings hurt.

Looking at the 'Holiday Insights' website and perusing the month of October, I saw that it is National Sarcastic Awareness Month. Hooray!! We have a month!!! (We also have an organization that I've seriously considered joining.) Here are some of my favorite sarcastic quotes:

  • My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right ~Unknown~
  • I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it. ~Groucho Marx~
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. ~Oscar Wilde~
  • I wish we were better strangers. ~Unknown~
Even though I'm a sarcastic person, I know I'm not a mean person. But just in case - today being 'Do Something Nice Day' - the 'something nice' I'm going to do is not be sarcastic. 

"I'm not so good with the advice... Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?" ~Chandler Bing~

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall - A Time For New Beginnings

I think most people think of spring as a time for new beginnings, but for some reason, the fall is historically when I make my new beginnings. The fall has been when I've made major life changes. In the past I've moved residences, switched jobs and changed careers in the fall months. My latest 'new beginning' is my transition from being an employee to being a small business owner.

There is something about the fall that inspires me. The air gets crisper, the leaves turn and fall from the trees and everyone starts preparing for the holidays. I love the smells in the air in the fall - leaves, aromas from the kitchen and best of all fireplaces. Fall is the beginning of the school year and football season.

Fall usually means a trip for me. I live in the desert of Phoenix, so we don't have a 'fall.' (It was 100 degrees here today!! Yuck.) I have to travel outside of Phoenix to enjoy fall.  My trips can be anything from a long weekend trip to northern Arizona or a month long trip to Ohio or Missouri to visit with family.  Which brings me back to the inspiration for my new business venture...virtual assisting and having the option to work from various locations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Humor in the Workplace is Important

I'm in the process of building my website for my new biz venture (www.topnotchadmin.com) and one of the things I'm adding are testimonials and recommendations from people I've worked for. Earlier, as I was reviewing the letters and trying to decide what to use, I noticed that in all but one of them my sense of humor was mentioned. I'm told fairly often that I am 'witty' or 'funny' and have great 'comebacks' and 'one-liners' but I never realized that my sense of humor would be something an employer or co-worker would mention in a recommendation!! Is a sense of humor something that can be added to a resume?? I've never seen it listed as a job requirement, but I'm sure in a lot of instances it helps.  Majority of my work experience has been as a litigation secretary and assistant, which is a demanding and stressful job. I can't imagine not having a sense of humor and not finding something to laugh at each day (inlcuding myself!!). So, I'm very proud of the fact that along with being described as professional, knowledgeable, organized, self-motivated and reliable I'm also humorous!! Live...Love...and most importantly LAUGH :-p

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Day One

Not only is this day 1 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge (my first blog challenge), for me it's also day 1 of being a business owner instead of an 'employee.' Exciting?? Definitely!! Scary?? You bet!!

I decided about 11 months ago that I would love the option of working from different locations instead of being obligated to showing up in an office Monday through Friday, working the 8am to 5pm schedule, all for the benefit of someone else. I have aging parents, grown children and grandchildren that are literally spread out across the country and I want to have extended visits with them. (Hmmm...I wonder if I'm welcome for extended periods of time!!) I started researching my options, assessing my skills and really thinking about what I'm good at and enjoy doing. My research led me into the world of virtual assisting. It seems like the perfect solution for me! So, I've spent months laying the foundation, finding my niche market (solo attorneys) and preparing for this new adventure.

Last Thursday was my last day as an employee. I am now officially a business owner. Last night I made my to do list for today and went to bed early because I've read that you need to keep a schedule when working from home. I was going to start my day off with a nice brisk walk to replace the grueling morning commute I'm used to making and then dig in and get some things marked off of my to do list. So, what do I do on my very first day of being a biz owner??  I took a day trip up to Jerome (Arizona) and spent the day enjoying the cooler weather, the shops, a great pizza and glass of wine.....