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How to Increase Profits for Your Law Firm

The first question Victoria Ring receives from many attorneys is: “How can you increase profits for my law firm?” She answers this question by introducing them to the concept of utilizing virtual paralegals.  However, when attorneys learn that virtual paralegals charge a flat fee versus a “per hour” rate, the next question is: “Why can’t I hire someone to work in my office at a lower cost than hiring a virtual paralegal.” The answer follows:

What is the difference between a virtual bankruptcy assistant and a virtual paralegal?

A virtual bankruptcy assistant is an individual who has been trained to prepare bankruptcy petitions for attorneys. The majority has never worked inside a law firm and their experience and knowledge varies from person to person.

A virtual paralegal is a paralegal that has:

** Worked five (5) years or longer inside a law firm ** Obtained a Paralegal Certificate ** Is a member of good standing in their local chapter of the National Association of Paralegals chapter

Hiring an Employee Versus Hiring a Virtual Paralegal

An employee working in your law firm preparing bankruptcy petitions may do part of the work but you (or someone else) will always invest time in verifying and correcting their work; or work on the case in one form or another.  A virtual paralegal is a trained specialist.  You simply have the clients fill out the intake forms and 99% of the remaining work is done for you.  You receive a complete Chapter 7 or 13 petition ready to file along with an Attorney Case Summary that details any potential problems before you approve the case to be filed.  Your time per case is reduced to approximately 4 hours and this includes the 341 Meeting.  Unless the employee you hire is a specialist with many years of experience in bankruptcy, you will not receive the same efficiency from an employee working in your law firm compared to a virtual paralegal.

Example: Your attorney fee is $2,500.  Let’s suppose the virtual paralegal charges $500.  The time you invest in the average case is approximately 4 hours or less, including court appearances.  You profit $500 per hour. virtual paralegal charges are not sharing fees. Instead, virtual paralegals are considered to be outsourcers and are the same as paying a TRAINED PROFESSIONAL to work in your office.  No employee can net you this high of an hourly rate.

What do employees do in the law firm if they are not preparing petitions?

As you know, there are many more duties associated with debtor bankruptcy than the pre-petition workload.  If you have an established law firm, the addition of a qualified virtual paralegal will ease the tremendous workload on your present employees, prevent you from hiring additional employees and allow you time to concentrate on growing your law firm and increasing your profits.

Isn’t bankruptcy petition work simply filling out forms?

A common misconception that some attorneys have is that preparing a bankruptcy petition is simply filling out a set of government forms.  This may have been true in 1942 but this line of thinking is now so far from reality that I invite you to prove it to yourself.

Call up any debtor bankruptcy attorney and ask them how many deficiency notices they receive from the bankruptcy court when a petition is filed.  Also ask them how many Amendments they normally file to correct problems with forms and schedules after they are filed.  Finally, ask them how many Chapter 13 Plans are confirmed without several recommendations by the Trustee.

If you perform this exercise, you will hear many stories of frustration and despair.  However, most of these problems could have been avoided if the petition had been well-detailed, prepared and all the research performed before the petition was filed.

Back in 1999, a very intelligent attorney in Columbus, Ohio encountered this same frustration. He looked for a way to improve the consistency and quality of his bankruptcy petitions; so he tried an experiment.  By taking the bankruptcy petition work out of the law firm, the virtual paralegal was able to work without interruptions, conduct client intake interviews with clients when they were more relaxed at home and the preparation remained consistent throughout the process.

The attorney soon discovered that when he implemented this method, his profits increased, the paperwork was reduced in the office, clients were happier and more cooperative and the amount of phone calls diminished; plus the attorney had time to grow his business.

You should now begin to visualize the difference between utilizing the services of a virtual paralegal versus an employee preparing petitions.  On the surface, it may appear that you are paying more in the beginning but the huge benefits a virtual paralegal will make to your law firm bottom line cannot even be compared to an employee who is simply filling out forms in your office.

What are some additional benefits to hiring a virtual paralegal?

** Attorneys do not pay the standard overhead costs associated with hiring a full time or part-time employee. The virtual paralegal charges one flat fee just like the bankruptcy attorney does for petition work.

** Attorneys do not pay for services until they are satisfied with the quality of work produced by the virtual paralegal. There are no financial risks for the law firm.

** Other law firm personnel are freed up to work on more complex cases. It is a known fact that the typical employee preparing petitions in a law firm is interrupted several times. This makes the information on the bankruptcy petition to not be consistent and precise, resulting in errors, lost time and money.

** Attorneys eliminate their need to train new employees. Most virtual paralegals stay with the same attorney for many years. Not only does this increase efficiency with bankruptcy petitions, but the virtual paralegal gets to know the clients on a more personal level, are able to build a better relationship with the local bankruptcy court and the attorney which helps the attorney to build a more solid and reliable reputation.

** There are no standard overhead expenditures for the attorney (i.e., desk, chair, office supplies, software and employee downtime costs). Virtual paralegals already have established their own home office and use their own software programs because they are independent business owners.

** If the virtual paralegal is within driving distance of the attorney’s office, he or she may provide client intake interview services. By going to the office, meeting the client in person and reviewing the client intake forms they filled out, the virtual paralegal gains more knowledge of the case and can normally reduce the amount of time they spend on each petition. That is why no additional charge is made for an onsite client intake interview since it makes the job easier for the law firm, client and virtual paralegal.

** No office politics. Normally, the majority of time the only contact the attorney will have with the virtual paralegal is by email and telephone. This eliminates staff and employee conflicts which wastes time and costs the average law firm a great deal of money every year.

How to Get Started

Click here to download your free set of Client Intake Forms. Complete, step-by-step instructions are provided in the document you download. This document is in PDF format. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat,  click here and get your free reader

The Low Cost Bankruptcy Filing Scam Revealed

Have you noticed the ads in newspapers from law firms claiming to file a bankruptcy for only $300 or $200 or even as low as $150? Did you ever wonder how they can charge this low of an amount and still stay in business?  Here are two scams that use these techniques:

Scam 1: Pretending to do a loan modification

A law firm will advertise to do loan modifications for clients. They rent mailing lists of people facing foreclosure and target them with promises of helping to save their home.

Once the client has paid $4,000 or $5,000, the law firm will claim the mortgage company would not accept their offer. The only choice left for the client is to file bankruptcy. Of course the law firm will pretend to give the clients a deal and charge them $300 or less for filing the petition.  But remember, they just received $4,000 or $5,000 for doing nothing.

How do I know this happens? Because I have personally been involved with four law firms who used these tactics. I refused to work for them, but other virtual assistants worked for law firms like this and reported their horror stories to me.

Scam 2: The low price is only for a skeleton filing

Some law firms will advertise low prices for filing bankruptcy because this price is only for filing the Voluntary Petition and Creditor’s Matrix.  This type of filing will stop any legal action against the debtor but they will only have 14 days before they must file the remaining schedules of the petition.

Of course the law firm will charge extra for Schedule A, Schedule B and so forth.  By the time the clients pay for each remaining schedule, they have more money invested compared to paying an honest bankruptcy attorney the full fee in the beginning.

Summary

There are bad attorneys and good attorneys. There are bad doctors and good doctors. There are bad waiters and good waiters. There are bad people and good people.  No one is immune from scams because they exist everywhere.

But the next time you see one of those low-cost ads for filing bankruptcy, perhaps this article will help you shed some light on the possible truth behind the low price.  Also, you can use the information to educate your staff and your clients who may ask you about these ads.

Be sure to pick up your free tools from Chapter 7 and 13 Training.Com at:

http://chapter7and13training.com/ Click on FREE TOOLS along left side of page

How to Implement Positive Change

As I look out my window onto another massive snow storm, I am reminded how quickly THINGS CHANGE.  Just yesterday it was 44 degrees and sunshine. Today we are under a winter storm warning and the temperature has dropped to a bone-chilling 3 degrees.

Unfortunately, people do not change as quickly as the weather or other circumstances in life. Why is this unfortunate? Because this is one of the major reasons people do not achieve the goals they want out of life.  This often results in depression, leading to a very sad and nonproductive world. I hope you do not become one of them.

My Window to the World

I live at the 8,300 foot level in the beautiful Colorado mountains.  There is nothing more beautiful and serene as the freshly fallen snow at this elevation.  The crisp and clean mountain air is so much more refreshing than the air I breathed when I lived in Columbus, Ohio; and the abundant wildlife (deer, elk and buffalo) is breathtaking to behold.

But even though I live in the beauty of a picture-postcard, the weather makes it impossible at times to get to town. I have discovered that life was so much more convenient in the city compared to the country. One big difference was that in the city, trucks came along and plowed the roads; plus I could order a pizza any time I got hungry.

Which situation is better for living?  The city or the country?  The answer to this question depends on your individual tastes as well as your level of tolerance in the extreme living conditions of the mountains.  For me, it really does not matter. As long as I am warm and have good friends around me that I can depend on, I can work on my computer just about anywhere.

Why do I take this attitude?  Because I know that THINGS CHANGE.  Even Dwight Yoakam wrote a song about this topic. It is appropriately titled: THINGS CHANGE.

Step 1 to Positive Thinking

Human beings have a tendency to work against nature where things are consistently changing. The majority of people gain stability and comfort from knowing what will happen today, tomorrow and 10 years into the future. Unfortunately, this style of thinking very rarely works. The reason this does not work is because THINGS CHANGE.

Think about it: There is no way that any person can prepare for every possible scenario that could occur between today and the date of the goal that has been set.  Sure, a person can base their decisions on statistical data and advice from others who have experienced the same thing; but knowing what will happen today, or even 60 seconds from now, is impossible.

Stop for a moment and think about this. Once you accept it, you can move to Step 2.

Step 2 to Positive Thinking

Now that you fully understand that THINGS CHANGE on a minute by minute basis, you will be better able to accept the bad situations you will encounter and more easily get through them.  Once you achieve and implement this thought process, you will begin to truly remove negative pressures from your life.  As the negative pressures are eliminated, positive things will naturally begin to occur.  You will NOT have to force them to happen.

Note: This is not to say that bad things will never happen. Bad things can never be eliminated because this is life. But with the multitude of positive things occurring, it will be much easier to get through the bad times and often learn valuable life-lessons during the process because you are looking at life in a more positive light.

An Observation to Consider

My mother was on Medicaid after my dad died due to her reduction in income. Every time I would take her to the doctor, I would sit in the crowded waiting room listening to the people discuss their problems.  It amazed me how much negativity was in the room.  I did not hear one person make a positive comment.

Instead, the room (which was filled with low-income Medicaid patients) talked about how they could not find a job, and how their previous boss had fired them because their child was sick. They talked about how hard it was to live and how their children had to do without simple things like socks and shoes. They also talked about how cruel the world had been to them and how they never got a break.

This is when I figured out the secret to a positive and productive life. The secret is simple: implement positive thinking in everything you do and positive things will happen.

I hope this article helps to change your life and I wish you the best of success in everything you do. As the author of this article, if there is anything I can do to help you; please contact me through my website at http://www.victoria-ring.com

Victoria Ring Business Coach and Instructor http://www.victoria-ring.com