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The virtual paralegal  blog is where we discuss upcoming training, resources, events, products, services and news relevant to the virtual paralegal business.  


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  • 21 May 2019 12:20 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Holly SheriffBy: Holly A. Sheriff, MSLS - Best Virtual Paralegal, LLC

    Being a paralegal entrepreneur is rewarding, fun, and arduous work.  Becoming a paralegal entrepreneur was easy. It’s operating a business; my competition finds to be hard. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you have one or two clients, who believe in what you are accomplishing as an entrepreneur.  Other times, a client becomes your biggest fan not because he or she needs to, but because it’s the right thing to do.  At the end of every week, there is always one attorney or paralegal who can’t understand that the entrepreneurial journey is the same for every person who takes risks to start his or her own business — this includes paralegal entrepreneurs.

    The Struggle is Real for the Paralegal Entrepreneur

    The struggles I face as a business owner are the same for the attorneys. There are times, and I am not going to lie, I must explain to prospective clients I have the same goals, needs, and wants for my business as they do for their law practices. Some of the attorneys who call my office don’t understand that I, too, have:

    • Clients come and go;
    • Clients fail to communicate when a task is in progress or finished;
    • Legal costs;
    • Clients don’t pay;
    • Clients who want the services I provide at such a low rate, which will cause me to NOT break even at the end of the week – let alone to see any profits;
    • Clients who are rude to my staff and me;
    • Overhead expenses that keep getting higher;
    • Prospective clients who either see my company as an overpaid typist service and not as a paralegal extension of their law practices; or
    • Attorneys who do not realize the value in forming a team like the collaborative relationship with a vendor.

    The copycat struggle is real

    The struggles I face as a paralegal entrepreneur are slightly different than my solo attorney colleagues.  I must deal with copycat paralegals, freelance or the moonlighting paralegals, who do not understand the first thing about being an independent contractor or a paralegal entrepreneur.  And it is always cutting into my profit margin one way or another.

    “Copycat paralegals are paralegals that have litererally tried to copy my business model from visiting my website.”

    Holly A. Sheriff

    The profit margin struggles are affected by a wide array of problems caused by unqualified competition, who believe they would love to work from home. However, most of this competition want all the same benefits as a traditional employee.  Believe it or not, this ideology cuts into my profit margin. I lose clients to freelancers and copycats because:

    • Inexperienced freelancers or copycats often have “set $20 per hour as their rate, based on nothing more than that’s what they think will get the business in the door.
    • My pricing strategy is reliable market research, data, years of ideal target marketing strategies, and negotiating with various vendors to get the best tools of the trade behind us at the best prices for our region. Yes, you heard me, I said, “region.” Most legal vendors have different price points for each jurisdiction or sale territories.
    • The copycats don’t like paying for things they should pay for to be classed as independent contractors by the taxing authorities and the IRS.
    • I pay for my tools, equipment, office space, and software. Seriously, I do, ask my friend and colleague, William Roach the visionary behind Exhibit View Solutions, LLC. I meet with Bill once or twice a year, to renew products and services that I believe my clients will benefit from our company using.
    • I also don’t hold back telling Bill or vendors like him what works and what does not work for attorneys. I’ve been known to have very candid conversations with Bill or any other vendors about how they can genuinely help me serve my attorney-clients better. This is what a paralegal entrepreneur should do for his or her clients.

    It’s not always about who has the lowest prices or hourly rates.  The decision to hire a virtual, freelance, or entrepreneur paralegal should be a decision built upon which of these individuals or companies can provide:

    • the most value as a virtual team member or extension of your practice;
    • business knowledge and understanding when it comes to your profits, business goals, and your legal work;
    • tech savvy solutions based on practical use, which surprisingly this includes using Microsoft products;

    BE WARNED

    There are thousands of virtual paralegals and freelancers in social media land who do not know how to use Microsoft WORD or other technology, which is essential for working in the virtual office.

     Sometimes it takes looking at what you do as a solo attorney entrepreneur to see the value of hiring a virtual paralegal. Therefore, if you are a solo law firm entrepreneur and you genuinely want to make a difference in your practice, try looking for a paralegal solution, which embraces the entrepreneur spirit, despite the struggles that come with owning and operating a business.

    Despite the struggles, being a paralegal entrepreneur is the best career for me. It’s satisfying for my marketing brain, it’s great for my work ethic (I work all the time), and it’s an opportunity to help like-minded attorneys build law practices as businesses too. Sure, some days, I feel like I am the captain of the Titanic, but that’s how I know that I am a paralegal entrepreneur.

    If you find after reading this blog that you want to know more about how a paralegal entrepreneur can help not only your law practice but your business too, call me. I’m always working.

    Holly A. Sheriff, ASPS, BBA, MSLS

    Holly Sheriff is a professional paralegal, published author, business/career coach, public speaker, and business owner. She possesses over two decades of expertise in legal writing, legal research, business development, writing for graduate students, resume critiquing, and writing. She has been a pioneer for the virtual paralegal and virtual business/career coach industries.

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  • 05 Apr 2019 12:18 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)


      Upwork to Charge Freelancers to Bid  on Jobs, Further Squeezing Those Who Rely on the 'Gig Economy'

    Freelancers will soon have to pay as much as $0.90 for each job they apply for on Upwork, which could impact users who are new to the platform or struggling to make ends meet.

    12 Companies That Let You Work Remotely

    The growing trend for work flexibility has taken over the country. From health care to communications to tech, each industry offers roles that can be executed from the comfort of your own home. Whether the trend reflects companies’ desires to cut back on expenses or to provide employees with much-desired options, the benefits are all ours.

    According to employee reviews on Glassdoor, here are 12 companies that will allow you to work remotely.

    Instagram Hashtags: How to Find the Most Popular Hashtags and Connect with New Followers

    Using the right Instagram hashtags can help you extend your reach, engage your audience, and even boost your brand. 

    House of Representatives Passes Paycheck Fairness Act to Strengthen Equal Pay Act

    Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives continue to call for stronger protections to combat wage inequality. By a vote of 242-187, the House recently passed the Paycheck Fairness Act to enhance the federal protections guaranteed under the EPA. Currently, to defend against an EPA claim, an employer can assert any of four defenses to...

    7 plants that will brighten your work-space and boost your productivity

    Boost your health, creativity, and productivity by adding one of these plants to your works-pace.

  • 29 Mar 2019 2:54 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    When it comes to pricing your services it’s often difficult to find that “sweet spot”. Typically, competitive pricing is associated with the cheapest rates. However, there’s something to be said about becoming the premium offering in your practice areas.
     
    This means you price your services higher than the competition and simply offer more. If your clients can gain value from your services, then your price point can be easily justified.

    On the contrary you need to be absolutely sure you’re on top of it. If you promise premium and deliver a sub-standard experience, you’ll have a hard time recovering since there are so many cheaper virtual paralegals available.
     
    You do not want to be the cheapest virtual paralegal on the market. You may get clients, but the buzz will eventually die down and it will be difficult for you to increase your fees to be profitable. Focus on the value of your services and demonstrate to your clients why your services will make their law practice profitable.
     
    Increase your fees as your practice areas become more competitive; the quality of your services will differentiate you from other virtual paralegals. If virtual paralegals who offer similar services offer retainers, figure out a way to package your services on a flat fee basis.
     
    Add a price comparison chart to your website, blog and marketing kit. Invest in your branding and market your business as the top tier of your practice areas.

  • 08 Mar 2019 10:52 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)
    The virtual paralegal clients are attorneys and legal professionals most of which are inundated with emails, whether an email gets opened depends entirely on its subject line. It is important to send a professional email message that engages the reader and clearly states why you’re writing.
     
    To introduce yourself in an email to prospective clients, use the first paragraph to intro yourself, the second for your request and the third to thank the reader for his or her consideration.
     
    It is best to direct your email to an individual instead of a generic email address. In an introduction, you must always use a formal business greeting such as, Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name, followed by a semi-colon.
     
    If you know someone in common, mention them in your email. A referral is one of the best way to connect with new people. Your message should clearly state who you are and why you are writing to the reader. The way you end your email is your last opportunity to make a good first impression. Your closing needs to leave the reader with positive feelings about you and the email you have written.
     
    Examples of Email Introductory Subject Lines
    • Introduction From [Your Name]
    • Inquiring About Opportunities 
    • I Found You Through [Alumni Network, LinkedIn, Professional Association, etc.)
    • [Name] Recommended I Contact You
    • Referral From [Name]
     
    Sample Email Introduction with a referral
     
    Dear Ms. Smith,
     
    I am a friend of Allie Brown, and she encouraged me to forward my resume to you. Allie and I worked on several projects together, and she thought that you might be interested in my corporate paralegal services.
     
    Include your email signature. Make it easy for the person you’re emailing to get back in touch with you. Your signature must include your full name, email address, and phone number. 
     
    Last but most importantly, proofread your email before sending.


  • 19 Feb 2019 11:49 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    By Kristin Tyler

    There are many advantages to becoming a virtual paralegal, including the flexibility it gives you to work when you want and on what projects you want. However, like any business, freelancing requires you to go out and get clients. If you want to be successful, you need to market your services to attorneys and law firms. Here are a few tips to get you started:
     
    Create a strong online professional profile.  You should always use LinkedIn, but in addition, you may want to develop your own website with more information about you.  If you join a freelance or virtual paralegal marketplace, you can also create a profile on that site. Your profile should include a picture, clear and concise summary of your experience and skill level, full resume, writing samples, and other relevant information.
     
    Network. It’s important to get out and meet and build relationships with attorneys and paralegals. They are not only potential clients, but also referral sources. Some of the best places for networking are bar and paralegal associations and legal professional groups. Become a member, attend meetings and join a committee so you get to know people better. Don’t forget to reach out to your own contacts including former colleagues to let them know that you are freelancing.
     
     Sign up with an online legal marketplace or staffing agency. Many alternative legal services companies are actively promoting their services to law firms. When projects come in, they either send you the work or facilitate the connection with a law firm.
     
    Use multiple marketing channels to promote yourself. In addition to networking, you should consider advertising in legal publications, writing articles, speaking at seminars, blogging, being active on social media and sending a regular email newsletter to your contacts. The more ways you market, the better your chances of reaching new audiences and staying top of mind with your contacts.
     
    Get references and testimonials from attorneys and paralegals you have worked with in the past. This helps build your credibility and reputation and lets other firms know what type of work you have done. These reviews can go on your LinkedIn profile, website or become part of your profile if you have joined an online marketplace.
    Building a successful business as a virtual paralegal takes time, but it is a rewarding choice. Follow these tips to make your marketing more effective and get more clients.
  • 13 Feb 2019 11:41 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    According to ZipRecruiter, as of Jan 27, 2019, the average hourly pay for the Freelance Paralegal jobs category in the United States is $27 an hour.

    While ZipRecruiter is seeing hourly wages as high as $53.61 and as low as $8.65, the majority of wages within the Freelance Paralegal jobs category currently range between $18 (25th percentile) to $30 (75th percentile) across the United States. The average pay range for a Freelance Paralegal job varies modestly (up to $12), which suggests there may be fewer opportunities for advancement based on skill level, but increased pay based on location and years of experience is still possible.

    Based on recent job postings on ZipRecruiter, the Freelance Paralegal job market in both New York, NY and the surrounding area is very active. People working within the Freelance Paralegal category in your area are making on average $30 per hour or $2 (9%) more than the national average hourly salary of $27. New York ranks number 1 out of 50 states nationwide for Freelance Paralegal job salaries.

    To estimate the most accurate hourly salary range for Freelance Paralegal jobs, ZipRecruiter continuously scans its database of millions of active jobs published locally throughout America.

    View All Freelance Paralegal Jobs

  • 25 Jan 2019 2:19 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    FREE eBook Download

    Whether or not you should launch a virtual paralegal business will depend on your qualifications, practice areas, motivation and hard work. Starting a business can be challenging, and it’s important to have all your questions answered before you take the plunge.

    There are several reasons why paralegals launched virtual paralegal businesses but regardless of the reason why you decide to start a business; you must first determine if you want to be an employee or an entrepreneur?

    Determine your motivation for wanting to offer your services remotely as opposed to working in a law office? Do you want to operate your own business, or do you just want the flexibility of working from home?

    The Virtual Paralegal FAQ eGuide will answer frequently asked questions about the virtual paralegal business such as, major challenges working as virtual paralegals, myths associated with operating a virtual paralegal business, how long it takes to launch a virtual paralegal business and much more.

    After reading this eGuide you should be able to decide if starting a business is the right choice for you and if you decide to move forward with your virtual paralegal business; this eGuide will also give you step by step instructions on how to transition from a law office paralegal to a virtual one.

    For a limited time, the Virtual Paralegal Training Center™ is giving away free download to this eGuide on Amazon and on our website.

  • 06 Dec 2018 12:22 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)


    What are the rules of gift-gifting if you are a freelancer or a virtual paralegal? If you want to give your client a thank you gift, there are ways that won’t cross the line between “loved working with you” and “give me more work”. The etiquette can be a bit tricky. You do not want the gift to be too expensive or personal. It should be a small token of a thoughtful expression and gratitude.

    Some suggests a hand written “thank you” note alone or combined with a coffee gift card worth no more than $25.00.

    Other suggest promotional items such as, pens, note pads and mugs with your business name and logo on them. I read an article that suggested the following:

    §  If you give a person a pen, they’ll remember it for a few days.

    §  If you give a person a pen with your logo on it, they’ll remember it for a few days.

    §  If you give a person a nice pen with *their* name on it, they’ll not only remember who gave it to them, they’ll probably hold on to it for a lot longer.

    So, whether you should give your client a gift, is a personal choice but if you do, keep it professional and make it more about saying thank you and save the business promotion for another time.

  • 29 Nov 2018 11:34 AM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Thanks to the growing economy freelancers and virtual workers are on the rise.

    According to the virtual assistant platform Upwork 57.3 million people in the U.S. freelance full time. This is exciting news for parents who want to work from home to spend more time with their family. 

    Working virtual comes with a lot of benefits including the flexibility to choose the hours you work and the assignments you want to work on.

    However, there are some downsides to leaving your full-time employment for freelancing, such as, giving up benefits that are important to you and your family.  One of those benefit is the opportunity to contribute to a flexible spending account (FSA) known as a personal saving accounts that can be used for qualifying medical expenses. Because the funds are usually deposited into the account on a pre-tax-basis, it reduces the employees tax liability.

    Unfortunately, the IRS does not extend the FSAs benefits to self-employed workers.

    However, if you are a full-time employee and your employer offers this benefit you may still be eligible even if you work freelance on a part-time basis. You may also be able to contribute to a FSA account if your spouse’s employer offers this benefit.

    The alternative for full-time freelancers and virtual paralegals is the child tax credit (CTC) and the additional child tax credit (ACTC) that can help offset the cost of childcare. These tax credits are up to $1,000 per qualifying child. The child must be under 17, have lived with you for at least half of the tax year, and be a U.S. citizen.

    So be sure to explore your tax advantaged options with a qualified accountant or financial specialist when deciding to launch a virtual paralegal business or transitioning from part-time to full-time.


  • 02 Nov 2018 12:46 PM | Cordina Charvis (Administrator)

    Looking to grow your virtual paralegal business? Check out the companies below. Don't forget to do your due diligence before providing personal information.

    Lawfecta

    Equivity

    Hire an Esquire

    Virtual Employee

    Flexjobs

    Eparalegal Associates, Inc. 

    JURISolutons, Inc. 

    LawTrades, Inc.


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