Virtual Legal Assistants: What They Are + How They Can Help

A virtual legal assistant is a remote professional who provides administrative, technical, and legal support for lawyers or law firms.

Do you ever feel like administrative tasks are constantly pulling you away from your core legal work? Imagine having a skilled legal assistant readily available but without the need for dedicated office space. That's the power of a virtual legal assistant (VLA). 

In this post, we'll explore how a VLA can transform your practice, covering the benefits of hiring one, key considerations when searching for the perfect fit, and valuable tips for working effectively with your virtual legal assistant. 

What is a virtual legal assistant?

A virtual legal assistant is a remote professional who provides administrative, technical, and legal support for lawyers or law firms. They essentially function just like an in-house legal assistant, but they do it all remotely.

Think of them as an extension of yourself, handling the time-consuming tasks you just don't have time for. Scheduling appointments, managing client communication, and performing legal research — they take care of it all, so you can focus on your core legal work. 

While VLAs often possess a strong understanding of legal terminology and procedures, and some may even hold certifications as paralegals, it's important to remember they’re not licensed attorneys. They cannot provide legal advice, but their expertise can significantly enhance your practice's efficiency.

Definition of a virtual legal assistant.

Common duties of a virtual legal assistant

A virtual legal assistant doesn’t just handle administrative tasks and legal support (although they excel at those!). For small law firms, a VLA can also handle some of the sales and marketing burdens, freeing you up to focus on your clients.

Here’s a list of some of the responsibilities you can offload to your legal virtual assistant:

  • Appointment booking and reminders
  • Client communication (phone calls, emails, and SMS)
  • Sales outreach and lead generation 
  • Lead qualification and client intake
  • Project management
  • Website management and social media posting
  • Client billing and bookkeeping 
  • Legal research
  • Document preparation (as permitted by your state)

By letting a VLA handle these tasks, you gain valuable time to focus on your core legal expertise, ultimately growing your practice.

Why hire a virtual legal assistant?

Feeling overwhelmed by administrative tasks and struggling to find enough billable hours to turn a profit? Virtual legal assistants can be the solution you've been searching for. Here are some benefits of hiring a virtual legal assistant:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to traditional in-house assistants, VLAs are often more cost-effective, as you typically pay by the hour or project rather than a full annual salary reducing overhead costs.
  • Flexibility and scalability: VLAs offer flexible and scalable support, allowing you to adjust their workload as needed and access talent in different time zones.
  • Increased efficiency and productivity: By offloading administrative duties like scheduling, communication, and document preparation, VLAs free up valuable time for you to focus on core legal work, leading to a more efficient and productive practice.
  • Improved client experience: VLAs can ensure clients receive prompt and professional communication, improving client satisfaction and fostering a better client experience.

What to consider when looking for a virtual legal assistant

Think a virtual legal assistant might be for you? Here are a few things you should consider when looking to hire one for yourself or your firm.

Graphic outlining what to consider when looking for a virtual legal assistant.

Your needs

Start by taking an inventory of the tasks currently consuming your valuable time. Consider the administrative duties that pull you away from client work, such as scheduling appointments, managing client communication via email and phone calls, and calendar management.

Next, evaluate your legal workload. Do you need assistance with legal research and case preparation, including drafting legal documents and correspondence? Some virtual legal assistants have experience in specific legal areas, which can be a major advantage if you specialize in a particular field.

You’ll also want to think beyond the traditional legal tasks. To stay competitive, a strong online presence is crucial. Do you need help managing your law firm's social media channels, creating content, or responding to online reviews? A VLA with marketing experience can free you up to focus on billable hours and client development.

Key takeaway: Identify the most time-consuming tasks you need to offload to pinpoint the qualifications you need in a virtual legal assistant.

Skills and experience

Look for virtual legal assistants with relevant skills and experience in the legal field, particularly those with a strong understanding of legal concepts and research methodologies.  

A qualified VLA should possess excellent communication and writing skills, along with proficiency in legal terminology and procedures. If your practice uses specific legal intake software or research databases, finding a VLA comfortable using those tools can significantly enhance their effectiveness. 

Experience in your specific practice area (e.g., family law, intellectual property) is a valuable asset, allowing the VLA to understand the nuances of your work and better anticipate your needs.

Key takeaway: Prioritize strong legal understanding, communication skills, and software proficiency when evaluating a VLA's qualifications, with bonus points for experience in your practice area.

Availability and reliability

A reliable and responsive virtual legal assistant is key to maximizing the benefits of this remote work model. Consider the VLA's availability during your typical business hours, especially if you have clients or colleagues in different time zones. 

Clear communication regarding their preferred communication methods and response times is crucial. Establish expectations upfront to ensure they are readily available for urgent tasks and inquiries.

Look for a VLA who demonstrates a strong work ethic and a commitment to meeting deadlines. During the interview process, ask about their experience managing multiple tasks and their approach to staying organized. A reliable VLA will proactively communicate any potential delays or roadblocks to ensure your projects stay on track.

Key takeaway: Ensure your VLA's availability aligns with your needs, establish clear communication protocols, and prioritize a strong work ethic for a smooth and reliable working relationship.

Compatibility with your workflow

A seamless integration between your virtual legal assistant and your existing workflow is essential for a successful working relationship. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Communication tools: Discuss the VLA's comfort level with your preferred communication methods. Do you primarily use email, instant messaging platforms like Slack, or a combination of both? 
  • Project management platforms: Many law firms rely on project management software like Clickup or Basecamp to streamline tasks, track deadlines, and collaborate with team members. If you use a specific platform, find a VLA who is comfortable navigating and utilizing it effectively.
  • File-sharing methods: Law firms often deal with sensitive documents. Ensure the VLA understands your preferred file-sharing methods and utilizes secure platforms approved by your firm for data transfer.
  • Technical skills: While in-depth technical knowledge may not be required, a basic understanding of common legal software and technology can be beneficial. This could include familiarity with legal research databases, case management software, and electronic filing systems.

By taking these factors into account, you can ensure a smooth transition and maximize the efficiency of your virtual legal assistant.

Key takeaway: Match your VLA's communication style, project management tools, and file-sharing methods for a smooth workflow and efficient collaboration.

Data security and confidentiality

The sensitive nature of legal work demands prioritizing data security and confidentiality. Your virtual legal assistant will likely have access to confidential client information, so make sure they follow strict security measures and protocols to safeguard this data.

Here are some key considerations:

  • Background checks: Reputable VLA services conduct thorough background checks on their assistants. Ask about their specific screening process for peace of mind.
  • Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs): Ensure a legally binding NDA is in place with your VLA to protect client confidentiality.
  • Secure communication and file sharing: The VLA should use secure communication channels and file-sharing methods approved by your firm.
  • Data backup and encryption: Inquire about the VLA's data backup and encryption practices for safeguarding information.
  • Training and awareness: Top VLA services prioritize training their assistants on data security, including handling sensitive information and identifying phishing attempts.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can ensure your clients' confidential information remains secure when working with a virtual legal assistant.

Key takeaway: Choose a VLA service with background checks, NDAs, secure communication/file sharing, data backups, and security training.

Tips for collaborating with a virtual legal assistant

Unlocking the full potential of your virtual legal assistant requires effective collaboration. Let's delve into some key strategies to maximize your collaboration and avoid any concerns about working with a VLA.

Graphic outlining tips for collaborating with a virtual legal assistant

Build a positive working relationship

Take the time to get to know your virtual legal assistant and build rapport. A positive working relationship can lead to greater collaboration, productivity, and satisfaction for both parties.

Building rapport with your VLA doesn't require extensive time commitments. Consider scheduling a brief virtual coffee chat to get to know each other on a personal level. Encourage them to share their areas of expertise and interests. 

Providing positive feedback and recognition for their accomplishments also goes a long way in building trust and a strong working relationship.

Provide detailed instructions

When assigning tasks, go beyond just outlining the specific actions. Providing context about the overall goal or case will allow your virtual legal assistant to grasp the bigger picture. 

Include clear instructions, deadlines, relevant guidelines or templates, and your expectations for the final deliverable. This level of detail helps the VLA anticipate your needs and deliver high-quality work efficiently.

Set clear expectations

Clearly communicate your expectations regarding quality, turnaround time, and any other relevant factors. Ensure your virtual assistant understands what success looks like for each task or project.

Setting clear expectations doesn't have to be a complex process. Here are a couple of strategies to ensure you and your VLA are on the same page:

  • Provide written instructions: Don't rely solely on verbal communication. Create a document outlining task details, deadlines, and expectations. This serves as a reference point for both you and your VLA.
  • Utilize project management tools: Many project management platforms allow you to assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. This fosters transparency and keeps everyone aligned.
  • Schedule regular check-ins: Regular communication is key. Brief check-ins allow you to clarify any questions your VLA may have and ensure they're on track to meet deadlines.

Provide necessary resources

Equip your virtual legal assistant with access to the tools, documents, and information they need to complete their tasks efficiently. When doing so, consider the following:

  • Software access: Provide login credentials for any software programs they'll need to use regularly, such as case management software, document automation tools, or legal research databases.
  • Document sharing: Grant access to relevant case files, templates, and reference materials through a secure file-sharing platform.
  • Communication channels: Ensure your VLA has access to the communication channels you prefer, such as email, instant messaging platforms, or project management tools.

Establish clear and open communication 

Foster an environment of open communication where your virtual legal assistant feels comfortable asking questions or seeking clarification. Regular check-ins are crucial — discuss progress, address any concerns, and provide constructive feedback.  

Establish clear communication channels (email, instant messaging) and define preferred times for contact to avoid misunderstandings. Consider using project management tools to keep everyone on the same page, track deadlines, and ensure that tasks move forward smoothly.’s virtual receptionists can support your legal teams

It's important to remember that virtual legal assistants aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. For some law firms, the sheer volume of communication and administrative tasks may necessitate additional support. offers virtual receptionists who specialize in handling communication and administrative tasks for law firms, including appointment booking, client intake, sales outreach, and more.

By combining a virtual assistant for attorneys with a virtual receptionist service like, you create a powerful support system that allows you to increase speed to lead, improve client relations, and offload a significant amount of administrative work to free you up for more billable time.

Book a free consultation to learn more about how can help your law firm grow.

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Written by Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is's SVP of Growth. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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