S2:E9: VA Queen Sandy Van

On today’s episode of Maximum Growth Live, Seth and Jay are joined by Sandy Van, owner of Van Law Firm located in Nevada and Washington, to discuss her experience outsourcing and offshoring virtual assistance. Sandy explains how she started incorporating virtual assistants into her law firm’s communications and her experience working with virtual assistants. Seth, Jay and Sandy talk about outsourcing and offshoring VAs for personal help, marketing, case management, litigation and more. Sandy discusses how her virtual assistants have helped her be proactive in assisting and managing clients. Seth and Jay ask Sandy about mistakes to watch out for and about how she started Legal Support Help.

What's In This Episode?

  • Sandy’s take on the word “vacation”.
  • The lawyers who will succeed in the next decade are the ones who are focusing on building their brands where people meet.
  • When did you start your law firm, and when did you hire your first VAs?
  • The importance of having your core values defined.
  • Are you using VAs in your personal life as well?
  • Sandy’s knowledge base is now a resource that anyone in the firm can access.
  • Advice for those who aren’t using VAs yet.
  • What are some of the challenges you’ve had with getting a VA?
  • Are our lawyers having a VAs work 40 hours a week like they always know?
  • Sandy’s story of how she segmented her call center into different types of cases.
  • Sandy’s inspiration to continue down the journey.
  • The benefits of having people from other countries in your law firm.

Transcription

Speaker 1

Welcome to the podcast edition of Maximum Growth Live. The number one program for lawyers who want to grow their practices. Each week, our hosts Seth Price and Jay Ruane tackled the fundamental questions about how to grow the profit and profitability of your law firm to watch the program live. Submit your questions and hear the latest episode tune in every Thursday at 3pm Eastern on Facebook for our live show Maximum Growth Live is a production of maximum lawyer media.

Jay Ruane

Hello, hello and welcome to another edition of Maximum Growth Live you know my name is Jay Ruane, CEO from Flex your Social Media Marketing Agency for lawyers as well as CEO of Ruane Attorneys a civil rights and criminal defense firm down in the great state of Connecticut our constitution state but down in Del Boca Vista in Florida still enjoying the warm weather is my man Seth Price and Price Benowitz DC, Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina as well as the the mind the brains behind BluShark digital your SEO for law firm Seth, how’s your week going this week?

Seth Price

Going good, very tired. It’s been a long, long week. And you know, a good good and we got a couple of weeks of sunshine left trying to maximize every minute of it.

Jay Ruane

Well, you got a couple of weeks of sunshine. But we’re about we’re in the midst of getting hit with another storm here in the Northeast. So it’s just kicking butt. But you know, we’ve come off a great run of shows we had all of the stuff people talking about coaching. And we ended last week with the guild and this week we’re doing a little bit of a transition as we get into a new subject and the new subject this week is outsourcing offshoring and virtual assistants. And we couldn’t have a better guest to have on our first show talking about that. And the guest is Sandy van. Now I know you know, Sandy from a lot of legal events. Sandy and I had become friends. I actually went and visited her at Las Vegas. Well, long before Corona, it seems like forever ago. And Sandy is great because she has a PI firm. She’s got a mass torts component. She also runs her own agency of VAs because she decided to keep growing and growing. And Sandy’s really interesting because she takes ideas and money and turns it into capital I’ve been on I’ve been in a Slack group with her for for a while now. And her ideas are just just phenomenal for growing your firm. She has this incessant desire to grow. And she’s she’s done some wonderful things. What are your thoughts? Or do you use any?

Seth Price

Yeah, no. So we so yes, and no, yes. And again, I It’s funny because the word VA I don’t really love. I like overseas teams. That’s That’s my my philosophy. And so on the marketing side, anything, any non client facing the any widget that can be replicated overnight as a technology component, I love whether the marketing of the law firm side where I have sort of not done where I’m enamored and want to see what she’s doing is I feel that I have the law firm sausage making has been more old school and has not leveraged people. So there are areas that I feel like I’m a very advanced in. And there are areas where I feel like I’m old school and could really use a lot of help. So Sandy has been an inspiration, what she has been able to scale. You know, there are people you do what you love, I love the the optimizing of websites and getting ROI for an investment on paid search and things like that. She has figured out how to get hundreds of people overseas to grow in the same direction. And that’s not nothing.

Jay Ruane

That’s not nothing for sure. You know, one of the things that that’s really interesting to me is, I’ve talked a little bit about with you my own journey into starting to use overseas help. And how we bombed out a couple we had some people that were great in the first week or two, and then they just dropped off the planet. We’ve had to who we didn’t have in Honduras now who are who are like rockstars like I mean, I wish I could have them in my office. I’m glad they’re there, and they’re happy being being where they are. I even reached out and said, You know, I’m not in El Salvador, maybe we can find people that we can set up down there with you. Because you know, it’s it’s a problem. Because you’re not getting those touch points when you have the VA when you have the offshore or overseas help. I mean, you could just people could just disappear. We had somebody ghost on us.

Seth Price

I’m trying to play with my intake team. So we’ve similarly tried to we’re trying to divert experiments. One is an ex-, somebody who lived in the US who sounds like the girl next door, woman next door, and the other is somebody who’s never been to the US and wanting to see which skill sets we you know fit best. You know what I’m just so leery of going client facing I’m sure with the band aid off at some point, but you know anything behind the scenes I’m looking for. So let’s get let’s get Sandy out here I want to hear make sure we give her enough time.

Jay Ruane

Okay folks, we’re gonna take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. Of course, we are sponsored by maximum lawyer media, home of the maximum lawyer guild, which you heard about last week on our show. So stay tuned. When we come back we’ll have Sandy Van of the Van Law firm.

Speaker 2

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Jay Ruane

And we’re back we’re back with our good friend Sandy van Sandy van of the van law firm in Nevada and Washington, if I’m not mistaken, as well as the owner of legal support help which is a staffing firm of VAs for lawyers. Sandy, thanks for being on the program today. I first want to start with asking you this question. When did you start your law firm? And when did you hire your first VA

Sandy Van

2012 is when I started my law firm. I started using VAs in 2008.

Jay Ruane

Okay, second, we’re very familiar with with the real estate now using VA. So the real estate business, and when you started your law firm, you immediately thought that that would be a great way to expand your workforce.

Sandy Van

Yes. Okay. All right. So often easy tasks.

Jay Ruane

Gotcha. What is easy tasks explain to the audience what easy tasks is

Sandy Van

Getting police reports getting medical record requests, you know, sending letters of rep. Doing lien verifications or reductions.

Jay Ruane

Okay, so in your situation, did you hire in country people first? Or did you start with the VAs when you started with your law firm.

Sandy Van

Um, I had a few people in house, maybe 8 people in house, and then I had like, 5 VAs?

Jay Ruane

Gotcha. Okay, now I want to talk to you a little bit about it, because one of the challenges with hiring a VA is that you need to sort of have systems in place first, because you’re not going to have them in your office to train. How do you deal with that at the beginning of engaging a virtual assistant?

Sandy Van

Well, you know, first you have to have systems in place to hire the right people, it took me a long time to figure that out. And now we started the EOS model the entrepreneur. And we have an accountability chart and like organizational chart, and then we ask the managers of each department to determine what their core processes are, because the credit principle says that, you know, 20% of your stuff is going to you know, produce 80% of your outcome. So each manager decides, like, what’s a core process of their team? And then we created like, tetras and courses to train all the virtual assistants. So yeah, you need to what I would do is have two people create that process. So let’s say it’s a demand letter. And it would be your two case managers write your pre litigation case matters. So have Anna create it and then Bob, look it over have Bob look over subrogate create subrogation and then have Ana add to it. You And then just have them delegate it to them so that they can create it because they’re the ones that are in the weeds and stuff doing it. You know, and then you can create like a tetra, I know that your brother does like wiki pedia that doesn’t have the monthly fee. But um, and make sure that you have an index to your tetra, and a table of contents to your tetra or Wikipedia, whichever way that they decide to go. So we created an index, I had it up here, I don’t know where I put it. Oh, you know, it’s not here anymore. But you can create an index for your Tetra kind of like, why are we doing this? If they know why if people know why they’re, they’re better, they understand things better, like, Oh, I’m doing this demand letter this way. So that we don’t get indexing information out there, we make sure that we don’t put anything that’s adverse to our client in there. You know, we want to make sure that we get money from the insurance company because they’re not just going to come out and give us money. So you need to give them the why you need to say this is how it’s done. Sometimes you need pictures and their videos, because people may learn differently they might have I read so I’d rather read things and go through a whole video, I don’t want to go through a video an hour and find two sentences that I wanted to teach. So some people like watching the video, some people like pictures and screenshots and people like webinars and such.

Seth Price

Yeah, Sandy is there but it’s clearly Sandy’s people taking notes to bring you the nuggets.

Sandy Van

Right, like so I can learn like TBI in like 20 minutes. Like I’ll have like, all these webinars of like, you know, an hour here an hour there for hours. And I’m like, I just want to read them, like 20 minutes.

Jay Ruane

Before you get jumped in Seth, I have something that Sandy said something early on in her last answer. And I want to dive a little deeper. And because I think a lot of people here might be sort of in the place that you were, and you said you had a lot of problems with the VAs early on, before you figure it out. Let’s expand that a little let’s talk about some of the problems that you found early on, so that our people, our listeners, our audience won’t make those same mistakes. So where do you think you had give me two big mistakes that you made early on, that our people can learn from so that they don’t make those mistakes?

Sandy Van

Not having my core values done, and that’s something that we did recently, you know, we created our core values, and had we created them earlier, and I can go get our core values, we created our core values. And then we found that some people just did not fit into the core values. And had we had them defined earlier, I’m like, Hey, this is why you’re getting fired, it’s nothing, you know, you just don’t show up, you just you’re not that hard working or whatever, right?

Seth Price

Is that a core value? or is that just accepting a higher level, I mean, core value is sort of the nuance, it could be somebody who’s great, but doesn’t hit your core values potentially, versus somebody who’s not showing up, they’re not showing up you don’t need core values to fire them.

Sandy Van

It’s just, I just liked it defined. So we defined it, we gave examples of it, good examples, bad examples, we actually wrote up our own little definition, and we had our blogger, rewrite it and edit it. And had I had that in the beginning, it’d be like, Look, you’re not mad, you see, you don’t fit into these little boxes, you’re not getting checkmarks on them. And, you know, that would have really helped things like that. We pay them with Veeam. Um, having enough to hire and things like that. We have a Hubstaff, which we check all the time now. And Hubstaff just monitors are screenshots and things like that. And but the core values is really important. So it’s not like, it’s not like some kind of, it’s more objective

Seth Price

It would be helpful to get in the comments. Some of these these are, these are great software’s I’ve always used, you know, different one, but like every time, you know, always looking at what is the best software because I assume, say anything you and I have talked about offline a lot is making sounds like you is not just like hiring X number of people, but you have pyramidded to allow yourself to have supervision. So that you’re You’re not just saying hey, here’s x dollars an hour, but you have somebody making sure you’re getting those x dollars an hour from the person.

Sandy Van

Yes, we also with the EOS system, we created a scoreboard and every department will have their own scoreboard for example, each department may have their own communication, including how many demands they sent out, or how much how many cases got closed from subrogation or whatever how many things or property damage they did every week or whatever. So each department will have their own little subsection of numbers. And then that manager will tell me whether or not it’s going well or not. So, back to the index. For tetra, you need something like the title, like how to calendar is it added to our table of contents? So you have to have a checklist right? Do you? Is it? Is there a directory to it? Why do we do it this way? Do you want to include some checklists or documents like, Hey, here’s the hospital, or whatever, or here’s a checklist on how to settle a case. Any documents that you need? You’d have to have the step by step instruction, the pictures and the videos?

Seth Price

Did you put that together yourself? Or was this something that you had, like was like, you give them something, and then they run with it? Or who actually puts physically puts that together when you’re starting? Because that’s a lot of people we speak to a lot of people watching this are like, hey, I want to try my first and they can call you and they there, they can have you you get them a person. But somebody who’s saying, Hey, do I need to come with systems? Or will this person build the systems that I then tweak?

Sandy Van

I think it’s pretty easy. loom is a great software, you can just record yourself doing it and then have them write down the steps. And I if I was to go back, I would because people are like, Hey, can we buy your system, I’m like, oh, you know, just the settlement disbursements to just me personally, I was sitting there one day, I’m like, you know, I’m gonna just develop this. And it was like four hours, you know, four hours of my time. So I’m not selling my system, but you can just record how you’re doing it, and then have them go back. And I would change everything to like John Doe and Jane Doe. And if I was to go back, I would not have because I have like some clients stuff on my calendar and find stuff on it. So now we’ve gone back and read on it so that it’s all John and Jane Doe

Seth Price

Was there. And you could have dozens, if not, you know, scores of Vas at this point, was there a critical mass where it where it started to work for itself, where you could have VAs managing Vas, that you would have less direct reports, and that your people in the US would have a direct person who would then manage people overseas, or all the overseas people reporting back to the US office?

Sandy Van

Know, some of our managers are VAs. And I’d say that it might have been last year, the year before I went on vacation, to Italy, and then I came back and I’m like, You know what, I’m gonna just do less. So then I figured out how to do less. And now I do weightless, like, sleep all day sometimes. Watch my stocks all day. I’m out and about. So, you know, it’s great.

Jay Ruane

Are you using VAs in your personal life as well? And is that something that you would recommend?

Sandy Van

Yes, you can use them for everything.

Jay Ruane

how you use that and how they talk to each other and get things done?

Sandy Van

I have a long list of things because someone asked me one time like what a VA can do for you, they can plan your travel, you have to have SOPs for that or they’ll put you in a really bad neighborhood. And like Washington and Washington DC, you know, but we fixed some of those things, you know, like, hey…

Seth Price

Thank god for the 24-hour airline cancellation policy that came out a few years ago, so no matter how much they screw up your 24 hours, get your money back.

Sandy Van

Right, but they’ve done PPP for me, helped me with PPP. They’ve helped me apply for bars in different states. They’ve helped me doctor’s appointments, refill my medication set up my hair appointments. Call me an Uber called AAA and sit on hold for me because I’ve got a dead battery or something. They’re, they’re amazing. You know, your VA

Seth Price

Obviously, you do have teams that are overnight versus teams that are dayside. How do you make that distinction?

Jay Ruane

Yeah, how do you deal with the time difference?

Sandy Van

We have an after hours team of maybe 15 After hours, I think and they have a check in place where they check in with me and say what they’re doing, what they’re accomplishing and what they’ve done at the end of the night. They’ll be like I want to be doing this I’m gonna check my slack messages I’m gonna be buying this I’m gonna be getting quotes for our printing or whatever or I’m going to be watching you know, CLEs on brain injury and telling you all about it.

Jay Ruane

Well, you know, that’s a really interesting thing is tasking a VA to watch some CLEs and give you the notes and the nuggets. I mean, I can imagine you can get a lot of good stuff really quickly by having VAs and then they’re getting trained in that area, and you can rely on them for more and more of your marketing stuff. Do you have people that are working on your marketing as well? Or is it all sort of legal stuff?

Sandy Van

They’re all working on our marketing, we’re even thinking about having to do our day in the life editing videos. We’ll create the video. And theiy’ll edit our Day in the Life videos for us, we gave them an example one, and we’re like, this is what we want it to look like. And, you know, we don’t want to spend $25,000 on one.

Seth Price

What have you found the average lifespan of the VAs? Do they stay with you for a period of time? And then move on? Is it do have you been able to maintain to keep people for like, how many break and how many, you know, stay with you for the duration.

Sandy Van

Most of them will stay for a long period of time. Because we do give them insurance. You know, and I have some that I’m sure that they could be making more elsewhere, they just stay with us because they like our culture. Some have left, you know, they thought that the grass was greener and someone want to come back. Some have left to do other things. Like one of them got a job nursing in the United States and like good for you. I’m glad. Be careful in the Bronx, you know, but I’m happy for you. So, but some of them have been with us for years, even longer than any of my employees.

Jay Ruane

Wow, that’s awesome. What What roles do you think are the easiest to fill with a VA? Because everyone comes with different skill sets? And then what roles do you think are the most challenging to fill with a VA

Sandy Van

Easiest would be medical record requests in verification, mean reductions, saving documents. Because we get an inordinate amount of faxes that come in, and we actually scan all our mail in and then they save it, and they organize it for us like, hey, if it’s an important mail, then they will alert the case manager or the jury that on the case. If it’s not important, like they don’t need to know about every single bill that comes in, you know. There’s like certain tags and then alert me that there’s an important mail or someone on harder things would be like calendaring, subrogation, litigation tasks, they actually draft our complaints and do our discovery for us. You know, our paralegals, tweak it to get it finished and everything and then case meandering. We even have three case managers that work.

Jay Ruane

Sandy, Hey, I, you know, you as you’ve grown, you’ve been adding litigators to handle the court stuff. And they’re coming from outside your firm, having worked at other firms. Have you had any instances where those lawyers have come in and been like, well, I don’t like to do it this way. Because I’ve never worked with a VA before. And what is like the adoption for these lawyers, when they start to see how your systems and the way you approach things are so much better? How have they, how do they’ve taken How have they taken to it?

Sandy Van

They really have, nobody’s really ever said anything like we don’t like your VAs, or anything. Most of them love our VAs. They’re like, Oh, my gosh, you got them for a steal. I’m like, I’m actually paying very good wages. I hope, you know, it’s not child labor, sweatshop prices or anything. You know, they’re, they’re getting paid pretty well. So yeah, and they’re very grateful to have a job, and especially in the pandemic, and some of them have just stayed with us, because of the stuff that they’ve learned. Like, oh, that thing about recording stuff. It’s not just CLEs like, let’s say, you recorded, you download the YouTube videos, or you downloaded, get me videos, you could download like everything on whatever it could be. Exactly. And then lottery I and then screenshot everything and learn everything a lot faster.

Jay Ruane

Now, did you take that stuff and you throw it into your, your knowledge base, so that in, you know, future versions of Sandy van, who take over running the law firm have that as a resource to go to? Is that something that anybody in the firm could access? So say I was a lawyer in your firm and I wanted to learn about Zapier, I have the access to get that stuff that you’ve put together for everybody.

Sandy Van

Right? It’s in different little sections, like, Hey, this is all on TBI or this is all on trucking or these are minor impacts soft tissue or this is all on social media marketing or whatever. And it’s in our drive, but then linked to things in our tetra, like sectioned off. And then we have different banks in our file line. So there might be like a motion bank or a correspondence bank or a CLE bank. So we may have links in there. So it might be the video, a link to the video, a link to the notes there. And then a link to the transcription and a link to the screenshot of the slides. So that’s how the index will be broken down.

Jay Ruane

That’s that’s really powerful. I mean, I can imagine that you could do a deep dive on pretty much any topic related to personal injury now, in your systems. So I can see why lawyers and personal injury would want to buy your stuff. Because it sounds like you have a tremendous value there. But I want to, I want to talk to you about starting your own VA company, because when you started this, you didn’t you you were outsourcing to VA through other agencies, I’m assuming. And then at some point, you said, You know what, I’d like to actually build legal support help, which is your company that deals with VAs. Tell us a little bit about that journey, and how you decided to get into that business as well.

Sandy Van

Well, I’d read The Four Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss, and then I had read Outliers. And in that book, they talk about this hairy dude attorney that nobody would hire, because he was not white and blonde and blue eyed. And he was doing everything that walked through the door law. And all of a sudden, he started doing mergers and acquisitions, and the tides turned and mergers and acquisitions was a thing. You know, I was using VAs A long time ago in 2007 2008. Because I couldn’t afford, you know, I was doing real estate and is doing short sales, and the short sales were not closing, they were not short. They’re taking like two three years to get paid out. So I was like, I’m sick and tired of working so hard. So I hired my first VA. And like, now, it’s like the times have changed. And I’m like, Look, that knowledge that I’ve had that 10,000 hours or whatever. And I decided to open the VA company, and I looked at the math and the arbitrage spread, and said, Hey, I could do this. And I’m sure that there’s other attorneys that need it that need someone on the ground running that, you know, can help them with certain things.

Jay Ruane

Yeah, I mean, I don’t know about you, Seth. But I’ve actually said, you know, if I were to get into PI, you know, this would be one of the resources that I would turn to, to try to fill those roles without having to actually bring the people in house. Because some of the benefits of scale that you can get by going to outsourcing through VA says, Did you have a question?

Seth Price

No, I was just thinking, like, you know, you mentioned some of the low hanging fruit like a PI shop might use. But some of it, you know, some things I’ve struggled with personally is with a legacy shop. And it’s like, it’s not like we’re that old right firms only 12 years old. But when you haven’t put VAs into certain positions, have you you know, you, I love the fact that you sort of built it with them, for the most part. Any advice for people that aren’t using them, but already have infrastructure about how you scale and put those in again, it’s not like we aren’t using it. Like on the marketing side, I have 80 people doing cast for me every night, all different things. So I don’t call them VAs. But we have a team doing those and I have individual VAs doing specific items and reports. But as a law firm, I’ve found that’s actually the place I found the hardest portion we have a solution for medical records. But what are some of the ways you can sort of first dip your toe in, if you’re not used to using them within a lot firm practice.

Sandy Van

There’s probably some things that your case managers or your paralegals don’t want to do, that they could be doing something else like you’d probably get discovery pounded on you. And they’re like, we can’t give you the you know, we can’t give you the Word doc because there’s metadata on it. So now you’re like, Okay, VA instead of me spending my you know, my paralegal how much ever you pay your paralegal 50,000 – 75,000 or whatever.

Seth Price

But in those cases, this is where I struggled. I agree that would be genius. And we do do some of that. But that’s not the systematize stuff in the tetra, right. That’s the one off project. And then you run into how do you so I love it. And I’m sort of experimenting right now I’ve forced my team to work with VAs, even if I’m paying and time is falling on the floor. I don’t think that wasting anything. But the idea is intent. Sometimes it’s as you’re saying, until you sort of know oh, there’s a resource there. Let me send it. It’s sometimes there’s some things you can plan out. And some things you don’t really even know that you need until you’re like, oh, man, I wish I got a place to send it Oh, I do have a place to send it in, which comes first and if there’s not a person to send it to, you can’t actually do that. Right?

Sandy Van

Well, there’s a list of stuff that our VAs do. It’s on va task list.com. And they do stuff for business lawyers, Family Lawyers, estate planning, all types of areas of law. They help us we do mass torts and personal injury. So you know, they’ve helped us with that. They’ve helped some of our doctors out with their stuff in the medical record companies and stuff like that, because they’ve needed people to call appointments and stuff. So I’m sure you could find something and they’ve helped some of ours help with translation and calling our clients are litigates As we’re like, so busy, you know, and I was like watching the reports for the communication. And then you could lose one case, because your litigator or your case manager is too busy to call a client. And so we’d hired these people called, like, we call them like customer care, people. And they just call the client like, I want you to sandwich it one month, Attorney Joe calls and then one month, Daniel calls the VA says, Hey, and he’s got this, like, task out. We’ve got these scripts or whatever, like, hey, we sent your demand letter, we’re waiting 30 days before we get the response, or we’re waiting on a subrogation lien that may take a while, but we’ll let you know your response, or we’ve, we’ve already sent it out for service, or whatever it is, that is scripted. Do you have any questions for the attorney Joe? You know, and they do that? So you’ll find something for them? There’s plenty that they can do.

Jay Ruane

You know, that’s really interesting that you say that, because, you know, one of the biggest problems for lawyers is lack of communications, like 90% of bar complaints, is lack of communication. And it’s often because the lawyers are busy. So by taking a proactive approach with using Bas, it’s really a solution that can get you can identify problem clients, identify problem areas, and solve those things before you get to the bar complaint phase, or you lose that case that is money that you’ve worked up, that’s going out the door. So that’s that’s a genius way to use VA, sort of that happiness.

Seth Price

How do you find the like, do you have two categories of people that are forward facing whether English is good enough versus those that are not? How do you make a distinction as to who you allow to speak to clients? Value? Yeah. Okay. For people who have the skills to communicate with us clients versus those that might be doing data behind the scenes, right.

Sandy Van

So someone that does not speak to people with paid less in my, you know, in my company, so we do have people who have really great English and really great Spanish. And we have some people that are chasing leads for us in the middle of the night even because I don’t want to be woken up at 11 at night. So I have those people not pay them us wages, even, you know, if I’m not woken up at 11 o’clock, and they can just sign that person, I’d rather have that happen. I think that there’s some things that are value add, if I go to Joe’s stone crab, they may use not the nicest napkins, they may not use the nicest toilet paper or the nicest ketchup. But if their seafood doesn’t taste good, or their steak doesn’t taste good, then I’m not going to go back to Joe’s stone crab. So some things don’t matter if you’re calling the police departments saying hey, this police report ready? Or you’re calling for medical records, I really don’t care if your English isn’t that great. You know, but if you’re speaking to an adjuster, or you’re speaking to a client, then I want your English good.

Jay Ruane

I love that. Yeah, we ran into a problem with that. But with our first failed attempts with a VA, because we were getting state employees here in Connecticut, who refuse to talk to people with accents, I can’t understand them, and they would hang up. And we were dealing with people who, you know, were insulated in their jobs. So we had to transition to find people with better English, because that was necessary for us to be able to accomplish those tasks. I thought they spoke just fine. But you know, I grew up in the hood myself

Sandy Van

I would say that you should also get a line for them because our phones were getting backed up because we didn’t have a phone line for them like the medical records department. So we got a phone line for the medical records department, the disbursement department, the mass tort department, those are run by VAs, our mass torts like hundreds of cases, hundreds and hundreds of cases are run by the VA. And I would also have a line, a channel on your Slack or angry clients. Okay, so when they call him and they’re angry, I want to be notified of that angry client know why they’re angry. So in some of the credit card companies, collection companies, they have software where they can tell if you’re like raising your voice if you’ve been cursing at some kind of artificial intelligence. We don’t have that at Van law firm. We just have people to answer the phones and they slack and tell me if there’s an angry client on the phone.

Seth Price

You do all of your intake through VAs?

Sandy Van

Mainly through VAs. We do have some case managers that will go out if necessary, we’ll meet you will meet.

Seth Price

Somebody heard the first call to Sandy if you’ve been injured? Is that is that going directly overseas?

Sandy Van

It may be going overseas it may be going in house we have maybe two or three, maybe three in house people that can handle an intake call and then we have a lot of not in house.

Jay Ruane

So So let me ask you a question about that. When you say okay, so say you’ve decided okay, we want to add Add a new person to our arsenal of VAs. Are you picking them to train them in one particular area? And then cross training them afterwards? Or are you saying you’re gonna live medical records for however long you’re with us? And you may go up in the medical records silo, but you’re staying in that silo? Or is there is there movement back and forth? Because I think there’s some people out there who might want to think okay, so I get my first one that’s gonna lead me to a second and a third. And I want to give them an idea of of the sort of the the march of progress when you start getting VAs and like you’ve been able to accomplish?

Sandy Van

Well, sometimes they do just stay in medical records, sometimes we start giving them something else, we might give them summaries for something and then someone that’s been great may move them to subrogation. You know, we sometimes sometimes have these like, wow, like, where did we find it? Can we clone new people? Right? We may move them up like we’ve had. We have senior callers, that those are like the people that help the case managers. They’re the ones that are sandwiching and calling the adjusters and saying, Oh, well, did you get her demand letter and you haven’t heard or present or anything? Or is liability accepted? Are you thinking my clients car or whatever. And these people are so good, and they’ve been with our case managers for so long that they can now manage cases. So once in a while, we’ll have someone and I try to just hire people that will move up like we want our receptionist to move up to admin assistant one day or admin assistants to become case managers. Our admin assistants become paralegals or junior paralegals or our calendaring clerk or whatever law firms to be attorneys. So…

Jay Ruane

That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Seth, you have one final question.

Seth Price

Yeah. So when you pyramid, how many VAs do you end up having supporting a given attorney? Like how many attorneys are you running in house? And how many VAs do you do have backing up an attorney?

Sandy Van

We have. We have little pods. So we have the attorney and a paralegal. And then we also have the discovery team. So we have two people to draft discovery, then we have a VA for that team, so that VA is doing all of their drafting for them. So if you need a complaint drafted, early case, conference documents, anything like that join case conferences, the discovery, you know, shells and everything. And when they have to answer a discovery, they’re typing it up. So we have one VA per attorney that does that. Then they have some shared VAs that update our spreadsheet matrix, and to calendaring VAs that helped calendar with like our calendaring clerks. And I think some of the files helps me file. So people to see things and get medical records and custodian records.

Jay Ruane

So this is this is fascinating to me. Let me ask a follow up about that. So our lawyers, are lawyers having a VA work for them 40 hours in a week, like they always know, or are these people working like, Hey, we’re gonna tasked you with a series of jobs and you get it done, and then report back to us that type of thing.

Sandy Van

While they are working 40 hours, and you can really just give them things and then come back, right? So you’re handing things off to them. And then you might go do something else, you might go do a deposition, and you can come back, right? Yes. No, both, I guess, but they are working 40 hours.

Jay Ruane

And they’re working a 40 hour schedule, like nine to five like that lawyer work so that they’re always available to them. And then the maybe the document people they work 40 hours, but they could be off depending on the timing, that you need them. Correct. That’s awesome. I mean, I mean, from, from my perspective, being able to have people that you can task with things to do and get the work back. Regardless if they’re in the next hallway or across the world. Having a VA sounds like a great way to sort of accelerate the growth of your firm.

Seth Price

Did you have a genius it was Sandy has done not only with the business that people can go for a plug and play solution. But what she’s done for herself Is it is it is much harder to do as a one off, you can have a one off. But the synergies come when you have that team because my guess is the same person who’s answering the phones was great spoken English may not be your drafter may not be the person who’s inexpensive behind the scenes to end. And as you scale you’re able to get people to their sweet spot, and that you’re hiring for those different positions. Somebody who can write very, very different than we could speak. Who do you need us time? Who do you need overnight? Your head starts to explode when you think about the permutations. Yeah..

Jay Ruane

I mean, you can you can easily ramp up and have 200 VAs doing every discrete thing, but You know, starting with one and getting them to do the thing that really removes a lot of the headaches of your plate. And Sandy, I love the idea of having somebody who’s who’s a caller and checking in with clients and that type of thing. And I want to implement that in my office, for sure. Because I think that that’s going to those touch points are so valuable for getting referrals, back from clients, keeping clients satisfaction high or getting reviews, I think that that as your first move, that might be something that’s worth, that’s worth considering bringing in a VA to do, just because it eliminates all those inbound calls. And so if all your incoming calls now are just new clients, because all of your existing clients are getting calls regularly, it could put you in a position where you could really sort of task your intake team properly, don’t you think?

Sandy Van

I would segment that because we were going to open a call center. And we’ve kind of have a mini call center now. And after a bunch of call center owners because I interviewed a bunch of call center owners, they said, Sandy, you need to segment it this reception as reception and then intake as intake, you know, personal injury single event cases. And then they have a mass tort intake. But they’re cross trained, somewhat, but you know, so the reception can answer the phone. And when I implemented the, the callers, you know, it was after we’d hired this really bad attorney that didn’t call my client for a week that we had massage this case for two years, and we’re filing suit, didn’t call a client for a week. And we lost that case, that was really tough every single time have a nice car drives by think of this attorney and I’d like him to be hit by a bus. You know, it was a real case, like the meds were worked up and everything and we lost this case, and I’m like, Dude, I could hire like 10 of these people. And I’d still break even I’d still be ahead from him losing this one case. So whatever the story, we’re not perfect, but you know, imagine losing a a case it’s like, half half a million dollars.

Jay Ruane

Exactly. And that’s really what this is all about. I want to thank you for coming on here today, Sandy. You know, one of the things that’s important for everybody to hear is they see people’s success, and they don’t necessarily see all the trials and tribulations that go behind it. And you’ve been really honest and vocal, and I appreciate that. And I know our audience and set certainly does so well. So thank you so much for coming on maximum growth life, folks, we’re gonna take a quick break. And when we come back, Seth and I will be back to wrap up the show. Thanks again to Sandy van from Van law firm in Nevada and Washington, as well as legal support help.com For all your VA needs. Thanks again, Sandy. Thanks for being with us.

Sandy Van

Thanks.

Speaker 3

Hey, it’s Becca here. I’m sure you’ve heard Jim and Tyson mentioned the gills on the podcast and in the Facebook group. The Guild is this perfect mix of a community group coaching and a mastermind guild members get so many benefits, including weekly live events and discounts to all maximum lawyer events. Head over to maximumlawyer.com forward slash the guild to check out all the benefits and watch a few testimonials from current members. So head to maximum lawyer.com and click on the guild page to join us. Now let’s get back to the episode.

Jay Ruane

Well, Seth, you know, I’m starting to go full into the idea of outsourcing my work and getting some overseas help. What did you learn from Sandy’s interview?

Seth Price

I didn’t speak to her a long time. And I feel like today we get you get some insight. It’s it’s it’s not easy. And Sandy is great about presenting as if like this, that she’s what she has done is a lot of hard work. I’m sure you know, things that work, things that don’t work, and to see how she segmented the stuff out and created those teams. Remarkable. I’m inspired to continue down that journey. I think COVID has given all of us the opportunity to see what we can do because we’re not feeling in touch with people anyway. So that security blanket is gone. The band aids ripped off. I’d like to see if we can integrate some of that, you know, you know, people like Keith Givens in Dothan, Alabama. And you know, Mike Papantonio in Pensacola, Florida. You know, you’re outsourcing to cheap labor there. I feel like not only now do we have a national playground to choose from but an entire globe and depending on skill sets that you need. It’s pretty it’s a pretty cool ride that we have coming up.

Jay Ruane

Yeah, you know, I’m really excited. We’ve got one young woman who’s in Honduras who’s helping us now and all of my top line paralegals are like, this girl has it. She’s good. We want to keep her let’s elevate her already. Because we think we can get her to do great things and that’s really the wonderful thing is that we can find people at our at a rate that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to pay here in the States for for great work.

Seth Price

And it’s not this is not look, I don’t think I’m ever getting to where Sandy is I like US labor for many things, I may be old school there’s there is an advantage to certain things and that there is there’s a certain you know, if you had the the other the flip side of not that they’re not plenty of issues with domestic labor but I’m I’m a long way before, I’d like it to be support for those people for the tasks that need to be held open overnight to make that a 24 hour office. Nothing kills you more than a weekend when you know that work could be done, but that your nine to five people aren’t getting that done. And, you know, if the people are starting Sunday here, where you have production going, how much happier you’re going to be.

Jay Ruane

I’m with you. 100%. You know, one of the things I want to look to is having overseas people help us with intake on the weekends, because that’s where we’re not getting coverage now and I think we can place people in there. But great stuff today, folks, I want to thank you all for participating with us and being part of our show. Of course, you can always watch this show, as well as any of our back catalogue by visiting us on our Maximum Growth Live page on Facebook. You can catch our podcast syndicated through the Maximum Lawyer podcast or on our standalone. I would invite you to join me as we talk systems in our Systemising your law firm for growth Facebook group which is available if you are an attorney. And then join us back again next week for another edition of Maximum Growth Live. I am Jay Ruane he is Seth Price of BluShark digital, FirmFlex Social Media Marketing. We got everything that you need here, man, we got systems. We got experience over there more than over here. We got SEO, we got social media, we got everything you need to grow your firm. So thanks for joining us here today. And with us always said Any final words.

Seth Price

Not just have a great weekend and I’ll see you back next week.

Jay Ruane

Next week. Spring Training pitchers and catchers report we’re getting back to basics back to baseball. Looking forward to it folks. Have a great week and we’ll see you next week. Thanks again for watching. Bye for now.

Speaker 4

Thank you for listening to Maximum Growth Live. Please remember to subscribe to our podcast for the latest episodes and tune in live on Facebook every Thursday for our live show. For more information visit Maximum Growth Live on Facebook or maximumlawyer.com And be sure to share us with your friends

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