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Denise O

Legal Niche

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I am a new VA working on getting my business set up. My niche will be legal as I have been a legal assistant for over 20 years.

 

I am wondering if many lawyers are starting to use VAs and how this can be researched.

 

There hasn't been a posting here for quite some time. I would love to hear from any legal VAs on this issue.

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Hi Denise and Tawnya,

 

Denise, this posting is likely too late to be of assistance to you, but I'll post it anyway :)

 

I am a firm believer that there is a need for legal VAs in Canada (although, as I'm in the Ontario marketplace, I speak from a local perspective only).

 

Canadian legal VAs face several challenges that generalist likely don't come up against as often.

 

Firstly, that the medical and legal fields within Canada are highly regulated and privacy issues are, rightly so, of great concern to both fields and the professionals that support them. As a VA servicing those business sectors you will need to do your due diligence and plan ahead for their questions and have well crafted responses ready.

 

Although geographic boarders are not relevant to practicing as a VA, they are very significant to being a legal VA. The US and Canadian marketplaces have different terminology, job descriptions, pleadings, etc., etc. (a legal assistant is not the same as a legal secretary, a law clerk and paralegal are not the same, etc.)

 

Most Canadian VAs are unlikely to find sustainable client bases in large firms (as most of them operate 24/7 now and have dedicated vast budgets to make the 'machine churn'), however the number of lawyers in independent practice and/or small firms is huge and many don't even realize they need help, and could be sooo much more profitable and productive simply by delegating to a legal VA! Ensure you have a plan to show them you can help them reach their goals.

 

I suspect there is a high need for non-profit sector legal VAs, but a VA would need to be well established in order to support such 'pro bono' clients or those with a very, very limited budgets - but money isn't what drives everyone, and social responsibility and accountability should be on the minds of every small business owner too.

 

The legal landscape within Ontario (and presumably elsewhere) has changed in the past ten years, and the legal community is relying more and more on document and field specific technology needs. If you cannot find networking opportunities with your target audience, try and locate opportunities with the businesses providing services to your targets. Learn why your targets use them (ie, technology providers, time management, investigation, etc.) and try and collaborate with them to reach your end goal - thereby helping them and yourself.

 

All the best!

 

Elizabeth

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Hi Elizabeth,

 

It's definitely not too late and I really appreciate you taking the time to provide such a thorough response.

 

All of the information that you have provided is really good to know. Thanks again.

 

Kind regards,

Denise

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I would absolutely target one-person legal firms. If you are in the States, check out the Resource USA database at the library (you can get into it online if you have a library card.) I don't know about other areas, but in Colorado lawyers are required to file pleadings, etc. online and many of the lawyers are older, not super tech savvy, and are willing to work with VAs.

 

As a virtual bookkeeper with legal experience, I used to target them with the "by utilizing my services, your [billing rate] isn't being completely lost while doing bookkeeping services. Your [billing rate] less my [billing rate] still earns you [difference] while getting your bookkeeping done promptly, professionally, and with experience to back it up" or words to that effect. :)

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Lily,

 

Thanks for that further input. Very helpful !

 

I agree that targeting one-person legal firms or small firms is the way to go. How did you go about contacting them to advertise your services...cold calling, send them your brochure, email, ask for a meeting? I would be interested in knowing what has worked best for you and others.

 

Kind regards,

Denise

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I sent 3 different postcards, approx 3 weeks apart, then 'dropped by' their offices to introduce myself in person, bringing a large chocolate bar (Chocolove is based in Boulder, where I live :D) with a Goddess sticker on it to 'sweeten' their day. This initially netted me 1 office to 'try out' my services (out of approx 40 cold calls). At that point, I waited three months and asked for any referrals he may have. Word of mouth is your friend!

 

I DID NOT work out of his office, but only virtually. I simply took the opportunity to meet the various attorneys in person and explain how virtual bookkeeping worked and left them an explanatory brochure.

 

I only targeted attorneys one time then decided on a different clientele angle. This 'post card blast' and drop-ins was my SOP when seeking new clients locally. Different geographical areas require different types of marketing but in my area most companies prefer to deal with 'locals' of whatever nature.

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My niche is legal and I specifically cater to solo practitioners, semi-retired, attorneys working from home or just starting out...

 

I also offer specialized services for criminal defense attorneys, which is my niche withing my niche! My one attorney client has referred me to other solo's (just for a per project matter, here or there, but at least that gets my name out there.) I have not started doing any direct marketing yet, although I have taken ads out in the Law Journal, but nothing has come of that.

 

I'll never forget what a newly admitted attorney told me years ago. He said that in law school, they teach you the law, but they don't teach you how to be a lawyer (how to file documents, how to format documents, how to run an office, etc.)

 

I definitely feel there is a market for a legal VA's, especially one who doesn't mind doing some of the "grunt work", so to speak, like electronic Court filings and/or follow ups, etc., which really can be time consuming for an attorney to do (I know, since I do those now for my attorneys! LOL)

 

Good luck to you :)

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