The Cost of Hiring a Virtual Legal Assistant – Part 1
This is Part 1 in a series about the most common concerns with regard to hiring a virtual assistant to help you in your business/law practice. Feel free to suggest concerns you would like to see addressed.
I’ll address actual monetary concerns first in this series, as I suspect fear of the cost is one of the biggest holdbacks for most people. Fortunately, it is actually affordable and cost-effective to hire a virtual legal assistant for your practice!
First let’s take a look at what an in-house paralegal or assistant would be paid. The numbers are going to vary of course depending a lot on where you live and how experienced you want your staff to be. Altman Weil, Inc. reports in a recent survey that the 2007 national average salary (including bonuses) for a paralegal was $59,973. For a specialist the amount is significantly higher coming in at $84,000. Payscale.com suggests the averages are a bit lower, ranging from approximately $39,000 to $51,000, depending upon years of experience.
Of course after you pay your paralegal her salary there are further costs associated with having an in-house assistant – computer equipment, desk, telephone lines, gifts on Secretary’s Day, and on and on it seems to go.
Sounds like a lot of money, doesn’t it? Especially if you are trying to keep your overhead down, you’re just starting your own firm, or you don’t even need full-time help.
Now let’s look at the cost of a virtual assistant. Most virtual assistants are paid on an hourly basis, charging their time in increments of 6-15 minutes. Others are happy to work on a project basis for a set fee. Beyond that most virtual assistants will charge for significant disbursements, for example if you need something couriered out to 20 people, you will be responsible for the courier charges. You may also pay a surcharge for rush or weekend work, although a lot will depend on your needs and your virtual assistant’s schedule. Other than that, there are generally no extraneous costs associated with hiring a virtual assistant. She will take care of her own taxes, equipment and benefits.
So how do the two compare then? In the case of the VA, you probably only have her work 48 weeks out of the year or less (you won’t pay her when she takes a 2 week vacation, or a few days at Christmas, etc). You only need your VA for 20 hours a week (or even fewer) because in the 20 hours you are paying her she is working literally every minute, or she isn’t charging you. Your in-house assistant is paid for 52 weeks in the year (you have to pay her during her vacation, sick days, etc) and while she may show up for 8 hours a day, she will during her paid time take coffee breaks or chat with friends or surf the internet. So how many hours a day is she truly productive?
So your basic costs would be a yearly salary of perhaps $44,000 for an in-house assistant. Add an additional estimated 10% a year for overhead costs and you have further costs of $4,400, for a total of $48,400. For a virtual assistant being paid $30 per hour, your yearly total would be only around $28,000.
I bet you are realizing that a virtual assistant is a very cost-efficient solution to your staffing needs. You have other concerns though – and we’ll address those in part two of this series – stay tuned!!!
Laurie Mapp, Owner Halo Secretarial Services Contact us for more information on virtual legal assistance!