Tracy Coyle

7 Reasons to Use a Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant

I am a big fan of productivity. Improvements in productivity almost always result in better profitability – regardless of the business or practice. In general, productivity improvement occurs in two ways: more output for the same input; the same output for less input.

You get more output for the same input by using experience to increase flexibility in job processes and improving efficiency and accuracy.

Getting the same output for less input requires lowering operating costs such as overhead, reducing the need for extensive training periods and lowering personnel costs.

Getting more output for less input is the goal of any manager and hiring a virtual bankruptcy assistant (VBA) is one way to do so!

More Output for the Same Input

1. Flexibility. Most offices and staffs can handle a short term increase in client load but we are looking at steadily climbing filings into the near and intermediate future. Can you determine whether the current increase will persist long enough to justify a long term addition to your staff? A VBA works when business circumstances warrant the need. You are not obligating yourself to a long term commitment to an employee when the future is uncertain.

2. Efficiency and accuracy. Your staff has to handle a wide variety of tasks including dealing with clients; having them focused for hours at a time preparing petitions keeps them from responding to office needs as they occur. The VBA is focused on your petitions. I like to believe that every VBA turns over an error free petition every time. I know better. After more than 1000 petitions, I still miss an occasional item. Despite the occasional missed detail, an experienced VBA can catch small problems before they become big ones. Catching a fraudulent tax return or a recent large lump sum payment can prevent extra work or even litigation. For efficiency and accuracy, experience matters.

3. Experience. In a previous post, I suggested that an appropriate level of experience for a VBA is the equivalent case load you experience over five years. Can you hire a staff member with extensive experience? Maybe. And with all due respect to Jay, they will cost more than $12 per hour. Most VBAs have years of experience in the bankruptcy field and have prepared hundreds of petitions. One of the best reasons to use an experienced VBA is how little training is required.

Same Output for Less Input

4. Training. VBAs are ready to start working on day one. Whether it is the software or changing rules and forms, the VBA maintains their knowledge levels, on their time. While a VBA needs to learn some of your forms, methods and preferences, they already have experience learning multiple methods. With few exceptions, training time and expense will be carried by the VBA.

5. Cost. As Jay has pointed out in how much should you pay a VBA, a VBA can cost less than having a staff member prepare a petition. Your first task is to determine what your in-house cost is so that you have a comparison to work from when talking to a VBA. It is not just the wage/salary and associated costs, but also, the overhead costs.

6. Overhead. Software, computers, space. I had a discussion once with an attorney that complained he still needed the software, still needed the computer and still needed the staff to handle the intake and deal with the issues raised in the preparation process. I agreed. I then asked him if he obtained four more clients a week, would he be able to deal with them utilizing his current infrastructure? Can you? Adding staff means using more space. If your current space is already fully utilized it could mean crowding, or the expense of changing locations.

7. Location. Location, location. Ever think there are too many attorneys practicing bankruptcy in your geographic location? No? Ever wonder where you might find someone with bankruptcy experience if there are few bankruptcy attorneys that have already trained their staff? Finding a bankruptcy assistant can be fairly easy in a market like New York or Los Angeles. In Madison Wisconsin, we basically all know one another and the bankruptcy attorneys. When you are considering a virtual bankruptcy assistant, you are able to pull from a workforce that is nationwide in scope and often, nationwide in experience.

The VBA is a specialist. The most time consuming and least client oriented task in your office is the petition preparation. Utilizing the skill and experience of a VBA can improve the productivity and profitability of your practice.

The original of this post appeared at Legal Practice Pro