The following is a transcript of Episode 9 of Championing Justice. You can listen to the full episode here, or watch it on YouTube.

Darl: Thank you for tuning into the latest episode of the Championing Justice podcast. This episode, I’m joined by Ethen Ostroff. 

Ethen is an attorney in Pennsylvania. He’s from the Philadelphia side of things. I was going to wear my Pittsburgh Steelers hoodie to this because all my family’s from the western part of the state. 

I decided not to though. Most people listening probably think I only like Atlanta sports teams, so I want to keep the—

Ethen: I didn’t realize I was hanging out with a yinzer, but that’s okay.

Darl: The reason I thought of that was I saw you had some Phillies stuff in one of the Zooms that we did. 

But Ethen is not only a lawyer, but he’s got this really interesting company called Attorney Assistant. And I got to know Ethen through LinkedIn, following his posts, and I reached out to him recently to find out: What is Attorney Assistant and what can they do? 

And he’s going to talk about that today. But what Ethen does is he connects law firms with virtual assistants and he can tell you just about anything about how to run a law firm because he knows all the ins and outs of it and he knows all the ins and outs of how the virtual assistant business works. 

And so I wanted to have Ethen on to talk to us about that and to tell us how virtual assistants might be able to benefit your practice. And if we have some time, we might be able to talk about some marketing stuff too. But thanks for joining us, Ethen.

Ethen: Appreciate it, Darl. Thanks so much.

Darl: So when we talked recently, I was really fascinated by your backstory and how you got into the legal field and how you started looking at ways law firms could improve their efficiencies. So why don’t you start by introducing yourself and telling us how you got into this area of business.

Ethen: Yeah, sure. So thanks so much for bringing me on. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to share the stage with you. It was really great to read your content for basically—I kind of shadow-watched your content for the past six months—so now I get to hang out with you. This is awesome. 

So kind of going back in time, my dad, John Ostroff, had his own personal injury firm for decades, Ostroff Law. And I watched him be what I thought was a hero in the courtroom and represent people who were injured due to no fault of their own throughout basically my whole childhood. 

So I worked in my dad’s firm in the copy room, helping them scan all their documents to go green. And I was there working basically every summer of my life. So I was always kind of around it. And my dad was a pretty innovative lawyer.

He was one of the first websites in the Philadelphia area. He was a speaker. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of the case management system Needles, back when it was PINS back in the ’90s, my dad would speak at conferences for PINS and he was always sort of the operations guy at the places that he worked.

And then when he started his own firm, that was really a big passion of his and also intake was a big passion of his. So kind of fast-forward, I graduated law school and I passed the bar on my first try by zero points. I couldn’t have possibly gotten any closer, but I got through it and I worked right at my dad’s firm. And my vision was to help them build that firm into being bigger and better than Morgan & Morgan and really helping more people in any firm ever.

And when you are innovative, you tend to piss people off a little more often. And I definitely was the problem because I kept looking at the way we were doing things and just questioning, “Is this really the best way to do this?” 

And whether it be a unique marketing channel like social media, and I’m running around the office in October 2019 as the third lawyer in the country on TikTok, recording TikToks, and they’re like, “What the hell are you doing? Why don’t you focus on your casework?” 

I really gravitated more towards the operation side. Just really, I had a pretty traditional role at his firm handling about a hundred cases. Your typical fender bender limited tort, which in Pennsylvania is a very tough case to handle, and arbitration-level cases. I had a few arbitrations. And I convinced my dad to hire a COO who was a very data-driven person and they didn’t wind up staying.

So about six months after they started, they quit. And now there was this huge gaping hole in marketing and operations and I said, “Hey, this is what I want to do inevitably anyway. Can I get a shot?” So I gave up my caseload way earlier than maybe some of the other lawyers liked, but it was my passion to be improving the way we did things and I thought that was what was in the best interest for our clients. 

So I moved into a role where, they were on Needles at the time, and I knew they needed to move. They knew they needed to move, they weren’t using the system very well. It wasn’t efficient for the clients. We were repeating ourselves with clients constantly, not calling clients enough because there was just too much work from a task perspective on each person.

Darl: This all sounds like common problems a lot of law firms have.

Ethen: Exactly. So I saw these opportunities where we were just not calling clients for the 30-day injury check-in consistently, and I felt like we needed to change something. So my job there was to move them from Needles to Lidify. 

And then once we got onto Lidify, we saw all these opportunities to improve intake, especially for nights and weekends, and to better delegate the admin work, the stuff that happens behind the scenes, your template letters, your merge documents, your steady calls to insurance adjusters just to see if they received a demand. The stuff that really would bog down the case managers’ time. 

One thing after another, I delegated to a team of virtual assistants in the Philippines and all of a sudden they had 10 virtual assistants being sort of the spillover reception team. If the call didn’t get answered by the receptionist or just calling an adjuster to see if they got a demand, downloading a police report, relabeling mail, all these things that kept our case managers off the phones calling clients—which generates reviews, improves client satisfaction—I helped them delegate off their plate. 

Then after we had a team of 10 VAs, I was doing some marketing lead generation, I decided to leave and start my own firm in January 2022 and my own virtual assistant staffing company, which then was Turn Key Ops and now is rebranded as Attorney Assistant.

Darl: That’s awesome. And I think the one question that I have in hearing that, virtual assistants, is what led you to think, “Hey, that’s the way that I should go,” number one, and number two, I wouldn’t even know where to begin, even if I thought, “Hey, we can outsource this.”I wouldn’t know who to call. 

How did you go through that process and making that decision and setting everything up?

Ethen: It’s a great question. So I feel like I like to define myself as really effective with my time, but in truth, I think I’m a little lazy. I just hate doing the shit I feel like I shouldn’t. And when I would find myself summarizing medical records, for example, I’d be like, “This seems like something I could delegate and get better work done faster.” 

And so I started with that and my first virtual assistant I found was a lawyer based out of India who did medical chronologies for me. I built out a template for him and I had all my clients that I was working with basically sign a consent letter. 

If you ever send medical records and you don’t have your client sign that, I recommend putting a little language into your contingency fee documents that says, “Hey, I consent to third parties viewing my medical records for this purpose.” Just a little clause.

Darl: Interesting.

Ethen: But I had all my clients sign off of it. And then I basically worked with a lawyer named Jag Deep, really nice guy. I’m still kind of in touch with him. And it opened my eyes that he was just shredding through medical records, thousands of pages of medical records. 

He’d send me a summary back in 12 hours. I was just like, my mind was blown at just the productivity of somebody who’s focused on a very specific thing. So it kind of started there and then it kind of got me thinking, okay, well if this works, then maybe we could try some other kind of low-risk tasks. Maybe we could have them label my mail. 

And all of a sudden, I think I told you this, Darl, when we had our call, I’m not a hundred percent sure if I did, but one summer job that I had from my dad’s firm was they had to let go of a case manager. 

And inside of that case manager’s scans folders after they let them go, there was 1,000—I’m not exaggerating—1,000 unlabeled scan documents in a scan folder. And my job for that—basically it took me months—was just to go through that and label them and place them back in the file.

Darl: Ouch. Sounds like it was a good decision to let that case manager go.

Ethen: No kidding. And kind of the fear we all have is—we think we know of one person or two people that work at our firm right now, and they kind of probably suck, but it’d be such a pain to replace them that we don’t. 

If you look under the hood—and you have to look under the hood because that’s the due diligence, we owe our clients—their work might suck and there might be a thousand scans waiting for you to relabel.

Darl: Yeah. Gosh, that’s brutal.

Ethen: So that task kind of was one of many where I was like, “Why is the case manager doing this?” And we started just looking at one thing at a time. 

We were really behind on medical record retrievals. That was one thing we delegated, we got it done. Child support liens, we downloaded child support liens, put them in the file on a cadence. One thing after another, behind-the-scenes stuff on an assembly line approach, we started getting off our team’s plate and then they started being able to call clients like we needed them to.

Darl: So the first virtual assistant you found, and let’s start with the lawyer you found in India, how did you even find that guy?

Ethen: So I did a little digging through a website called Upwork. I found the talent they marketed for doing this, and they were like, I don’t know, eight bucks, 10 bucks an hour. I ran it by management. They were like, “Hell yeah, if they’re that cheap, go for it.”

Darl: Yeah, why not try it out? If it doesn’t work, it’s a low-risk investment.

Ethen: And we tried it out and all of a sudden every lawyer at the firm wanted Jag Deep’s medical record chronologies. It made demands faster, it made—because kind of what happened there is how sometimes you have a case that you just skip the demand and file right away? 

What we would find is that the cases that filed without a demand were way more disorganized than the cases that went through the process of writing a demand. So this was extremely valuable. 

And the cases that were filed with no demand, where I didn’t have something to kind of go back, that really is sort of like a reorganization point within the lifecycle of the case. So it was those cases I tested it out on and it really helped me gauge the value so that I had a really clear way to do analysis when I was on the phone with adjusters really at a pinch.

Darl: So starts with medical records and then you talk about these other tasks you then have people doing. 

Did you start your virtual assistant business while you were at your dad’s firm? Or did you do that when you started your firm?

Ethen: Good question. So I started it when I left, but I brought on my first client who today is still with me and has, I’m not exaggerating, 95 virtual assistants through me. They started with three and then expanded all across their entire workflow, and now have 95. 

Technically, we worked out a deal where my dad kind of had an LLC that we put it through, but when I left, I took them with me. So I left with one client of cashflow because, as you know in PI, if you’re crazy enough like me to start in mass tort, it takes six to 10 years in some of these life cycles of cases. Having a little lifeline of cashflow was really critical for me to feel comfortable leaving what was my dad’s firm.

Darl: So tell us about Attorney Assistant and what you do and how you can help law firms.

Ethen: Absolutely. So we work with law firms of all sizes, Attorney Assistant places full-time, exclusive virtual assistants—either bilingual or English only, it’s the same price—to do things like reception, intake, or consistent repetitive admin tasks in the backend. 

In my opinion—and yes, of course I’m biased—in my opinion, any firm of any size could use a virtual assistant, even if it is just primarily a receptionist. Everybody needs to answer the phone. If you let calls go to voicemail, you better kiss that client goodbye. 

If you’re willing to invest in marketing and you’re not willing to invest in intake, you’re really willing to waste your money. So conversion rate is kind of our lifeline and everybody needs someone to answer the phone. If you don’t have a ton of volume, reception is the only thing I would recommend you start with. And when they have downtime, they can knock out things like labeling your mail, or downloading child support liens, or consistent repetitive filings when they don’t have calls coming in. 

But, Darl, I kind of talked to you about this when we had our call last week. You don’t want to put your virtual assistant in a position where they’re doing conflicting primary tasks. So someone who’s really good at answering inbound calls, they can’t also be responsible for calling doctor’s offices for medical records. Because they’re not going to be available for the next incoming call. 

So that’s where I recommend building out silos or departments on an assembly line approach over time. But any firm of any size, I believe could use and benefit from virtual assistants.

Darl: Yeah, the reception angle I think is really interesting because that to me seems to be one that a lot of firms can benefit from. Even if they’re not your primary receptionist, you could have them be overflow and that’s, I mean, a pretty affordable price to have somebody. 

You would never pay somebody here full-time to just handle the overflow calls, but to me it could be better than having—we use Ruby Receptionists for overflow—but each time somebody’s calling, they’re getting a different person. And I have found that it can be difficult to have calls handled the way that you want them handled.

Ethen: Yeah, you have no control over the training of that person, you don’t know if they’re pronouncing your firm right—

Darl: Correct.

Ethen: But I will admit, Darl, some people say, “Hey, shouldn’t I hire VAs 24/7?” I would rather you start with Ruby for 9:00 PM to 9:00 AM because your call volume—especially if you’re not a substantially big firm—it just doesn’t justify. 

You will pay more in a VA overnight than you would a service like that because it’s really more of an admin job overnight. From 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, seven days a week, you really should, if you are spending a single dollar in marketing, have somebody ready to answer the call that knows your processes, your procedures, your intake script, that you trust. And in my opinion—my firm now, we generate 2,000 to 3,000 leads a month. 

I’ve stress-tested this concept. I believe you should have—if anything, people neglect nights and weekends. Our highest conversion rate and highest answer rate is on nights and weekends. So firms just kind of think, “Okay, I got someone for 9 to 5, that’s when I’m working. Cool.”

But in the age of social media and digital media and Google, law firms are called on average three times by the same client if they’re searching on Google for a firm. If you’re not answering your phone at 7:00 PM and someone else is, you’re not getting that client.

Darl: I think people listening, probably, some people’s jaws dropped when you said you’re getting 2,000 to 3,000 leads a month. That’s incredibly impressive. So I am going to have to come back later in the same episode after we talk some more about the virtual assistant stuff and ask you how you did that. 

Because there’s probably a lot of people who are like, “Man, if Darl doesn’t ask him how he’s generating that many leads, I’m going to be pissed off.” So I’ll come back and ask you about that. But so virtual assistants. 

One task you mentioned: reception, intake. Is that kind of like the entry level where you recommend law firms get their feet wet?

Ethen: It is. So here’s the thing though: there’s a balance with it. In my opinion, the entry point, it really should be in a no-risk task like delegating medical record retrieval or something on the backend that they will never interact with any clients. 

And something that I instill is I don’t like virtual assistants calling active clients. The only way that I allow that at my firm is if we’re trying to reengage a disengaged client and we try calling them on a night or a weekend, that’s it. The reason why intake is a great break-in point is because it’s a revenue-generating task. 

The fear is I’m going to put a virtual assistant on the phone with a catastrophic injury client and they’re going to screw it up. It’s a fear. 

So that’s why I kind of recommend reception, only in an answer/transfer fashion. But if you really need them to be fully intake, just really be clean on the qualification intake you’re having them do and have protocol of someone you know and trust that can close that client on from 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM, until that VA has been trained to really know and you trust them that they’re going to close at the rate you want.

I wouldn’t have them send contracts within the first 30 days if they’re in the primary seat. But people have a fear about a VA screwing it up.

In my opinion, my firm, we have about 25 intake staff, all are VAs. I’m the only lawyer at my firm. I’m there for escalations, but I’m here hanging out with you. We generate close to 3,000 leads a month and I’m not stressed about my intake process.

Darl: Yeah, no, it’s incredibly impressive. 

Talking about some of the concerns people might have about VAs, so one specific to maybe reception or intake is what’s call quality going to be like? Is it going to be obvious? Sometimes when you call and you can kind of tell the quality’s poor, is there going to be a lag time? 

I can tell you sometimes even with Ruby who’s here in the US, there’s a lag when they route a call to me and we’re on voiceover IP and I’m like, “Sounds like we’re kind of stepping on each other’s toes,” that kind of thing? 

Have you had any issues with that, with your VAs being either backup reception, or primary reception, or doing intake?

Ethen: It’s a good question. So we typically like to get our virtual assistants on your VoIP system. So it’s like they’re really just down the hall virtually. They would just get a line on your phone system.

Darl: So if I’m on Nextiva, they’re on Nextiva. If I’m on RingCentral, they’re on RingCentral.

Ethen: Yes. I use RingCentral for my firm and I just have lines for my team. I have not experienced that issue. But we do test thoroughly for internet speeds, computer quality, and kind of the concerns you’re talking about. 

The bigger concern that is kind of the one that most people think, but maybe you’re a little scared to ask, is just English competency. Are they going to understand what I’m saying? Am I going to understand what they’re saying? 

And if you’re working with virtual assistant companies, if they’re pulling people from countries that are more like India or certain countries that the client interaction might be a little more difficult to understand, you might want to double check where they’re pulling their people from. 

But in Philippines, English is language 1B. We have a physical office in Belize, where English is the first language. And we test for English competency in our recruiting process. 

So if we’re handing you someone and we say, “This is your intaker,”—and we place our VAs based on the task you want them to do more than like, “Hey, here’s a general VA, go.”—they’ve been thoroughly tested to be good in that role. And their internet has been thoroughly tested to be quality enough that we would trust they would do a good job for you.

Darl: So one big thing—and I’ve seen people talk about this on LinkedIn and other people when I just talk about it—is they have concerns about confidentiality and security. So confidentiality obviously being are they going to keep attorney-client matters confidential? 

But then also, how confident can we be that somebody is not going to have access to their system or hack into it or whatever? Can you talk a little bit on that and how you’re able to address that concern?

Ethen: Absolutely. So in my opinion, the most successful VA implementations are where the virtual assistants do have a license in your case management system. 

What I do suggest is you permit them to see what you want them to see and not what you don’t. If you have sophisticated financials, social security numbers, certain pieces that you, maybe your insurance provider just says, “Hey, I don’t want you to share this with them,” then don’t. 

What we do to kind of make sure that, on our end we are covered, we make all of our VAs sign confidentiality agreements and we also put security protocols on their computer. We also monitor with screenshots as frequent as we want through a program called Time Doctor that says, “Hey, here are all the programs they’re using and here is exactly what they’re doing.” So you can see what these people are doing.

So from a security standpoint, you should let your insurance company know, “Hey, we work with virtual staff.” This is a very normal thing for them to hear. 

Ethically, there are opinions out there that there is no difference between hiring someone virtual in the United States from virtual, not in the United States, and there’s not really a clear line on that. But these are real concerns. 

Our data is critical and you should share in the short term what you are comfortable with, and we do do thorough testing on the backend to make sure that the people that we’re supplying are in line with our brand. I’m not the kind of person that says, “Nothing will ever happen.” 

We want to make sure that we’re proactive and I can say nothing has ever happened with any of our people on this side.

Darl: Got it. So let’s say that somebody wants to use a VA. Your service is providing an exclusive one, which means this person is just working for this law firm.

Ethen: That’s correct.

Darl: Alright. So in other words, you use the reception example. Now, if somebody calls me, my receptionist doesn’t pick up, it goes to Ruby. It could be one of who knows 15, 20, 30 people answering. 

If the call goes to my virtual assistant, that person is the one picking up the phone. And they’re working for us or whatever law firm has hired them, they’re dedicated to them. 

And when they’re paying Attorney Assistant, can you tell us what y’all are doing? What’s the benefit of hiring y’all as opposed to somebody just going on Upwork and saying, “Hey, let me find a lawyer in India for eight bucks an hour.” Why should they hire Attorney Assistant instead?

Ethen: Yeah, I mean it comes down to opportunity cost. If you want to deal with payroll, tax compliance, security, recruiting, and then vetting, you can go hire people yourself. We are your, no pun intended, turnkey solution to find you talent so that you don’t have to waste any time on the success. 

And then in an ongoing client management, we are your hiring, firing service. If there’s a problem and you need help disciplining that person, we help with the warning process and help train you on how to do that. 

We have clients several times that will come to us, get a quote from us, and think, “Hey, I don’t feel like paying $2K per person, per month. I’d rather go find somebody on Upwork for three, four bucks an hour and hire them myself.” They hire them, they waste two months of training, the person goes and they come back and hire us anyway. 

So even though you’re running maybe a contingency fee firm, or maybe you are a criminal defense lawyer or a family law lawyer, whatever you do handle, your time is money and we will get you a successful person or you can get out of your contract within the structure of our construct. 

So you’re basically bringing us on to speed up that process so that you don’t have to waste time on finding the talent, so you can focus your time on billables.

Darl: Peace of mind.

Ethen: Exactly.

Darl: And you mentioned the $2K a month. Is that the general pricing structure for one VA?

Ethen: Yeah, so the first two virtual assistants with us are $2,000 per person, per month. Then once you hit three, all VAs start to get discounted. 

We have some clients, like I said, who are in the 90 range. We start to enter cheaper pricing as we slide up. If anybody actually listening to this would like our pricing breakdown, I’d be happy to send it over.

Darl: So if anybody’s listening to this and they’re thinking, “Huh, how do I know that I’m a good candidate for a VA?”

What are the types of things that you’ve seen in firms where firms are struggling with, or having issues with, where you say, “I know right away this firm needs a VA”? What are the types of scenarios and circumstances that exist where a VA would benefit somebody?

Ethen: Sure. Do you spend money in marketing? If the answer is yes, you could benefit from a VA. If you spend money in marketing, you need to spend money on intake or you can take all the calls yourself. It’s really your choice—

Darl: Which I do not recommend.

Ethen: Do not recommend that. 

On the admin side, your consistent repetitive task-doer VAs, I recommend you build up the infrastructure, start with reception or intake VAs, get some revenue in the door, especially if you just started your firm last week, let’s say. 

I don’t think you should hire a medical records VA. Could you hire a general admin VA? I think you could double-dip a receptionist and have them do general admin work in their downtime, instead of just somebody who’s on an assembly line. 

The person who’s listening to this, who’s in the very early part of their firm, they will use more of a general VA structure that, in my opinion, needs to be able to be answering the phone in reception. 

As you scale up, you really should get more specialty VAs who are really doing as little as possible in the task work that they’re doing because where VAs run into trouble is, “Hey, here are five tasks, go prioritize yourself.” They’re not always the best at figuring out which one’s most important on any given day. 

So roles that are more specified are what scale as your firm grows. Roles that are more general, especially phone-facing primary roles is where you kind of start.

Darl: And we’ll have a link to your website listed when we put this up on YouTube and the different channels, but just for anybody listening, pretty easy website to remember: it’s You can see Ethen’s information there and reach out to him. 

We did a Zoom call with him last week, really gave us a lot of stuff to think about, but it really just kind of blew my mind about things that I hadn’t even thought about. Things where it’s like, man, you were talking to me like you knew my problems and you didn’t know anything about my law firm. Because I think so many of the problems that law firms have are consistent. There’s a lot of pain points that are consistent across different law firms.

How are you getting 2,000 to 3,000 leads a month? That’s crazy. And you’ve only been out for two years on your own?

Ethen: Yeah, so in my first year practicing, which was 2022—not my first year of practice, first year owning my firm—I signed up about 300 cases and change. Last year it was about 2,700. We have 3,000 signed cases either internally or out on the street. 

And I want to be fully transparent guys: I primarily—about 99% of my cases—I refer out, as we’re building up our infrastructure, to be able to keep more work. So most of my cases are referred out, accepted. That’s about 3,050 right now.

Darl: Now what percentage of those are mass torts versus single-event cases?

Ethen: I’m a little more mass-tort-heavy than I want to be right now. It’s about 80/20: 80% mass tort, 20% med mal, single-event, car accident, premises, etc. And then a couple other niche fact patterns under abuse niches and things like that. 

But the way that we do it is through video marketing on Facebook and Instagram primarily. I just recently got—I was the only lawyer in the country in December 2021 before I got banned on it—marketing lead gen on TikTok.

Darl: How did you get banned?

Ethen: They just don’t like personal injury ads. It’s just a thing. And I’m not banned as an account, but my ads, I wasn’t able to run them for two years. 

Recently we have started running more stuff there and are seeing some success, but primarily about 90ish percent of my volume is by running what are called lead gen campaigns through video marketing on ads. 

I can give you an example of one right now: So on Google, you are a little further down the funnel. These are people who know they need you. People who say, “Hey, car accident lawyer Philadelphia.” They are further down the funnel. They’re in buying mode. Your market on social media is not yet ready to buy or didn’t know they had a case. So you have to hit misconceptions. I call it misconception marketing.

So for example, “If you or a loved one had hernia mesh surgery, please watch this short video. You may not realize this, but thousands of people across the country are suing the manufacturers of hernia mesh for failure to warn about the surgical implications of this product. Click below for a free case evaluation.” And that button beneath me, right there, that same template, “Hey, are you in this group of people? You may not realize this, but this is what’s going on.”

And, Darl, what I will share with you, there is something called the Facebook Ad Library—I am very transparent, as you’ve probably learned, hanging out with me now for a couple hours—Facebook Ad Library is everyone running ads on Facebook. It’s all public. 

You can go see all my ads, I don’t care. Go copy what I’m doing. That means you’re helping more people. I will share the link to my Facebook ads, which you can see publicly, and you’ll see I use the same general framework for workers’ compensation, medical malpractice.

I will tell you, “car accident,” I don’t beat Google, but I beat average cost per case. Which I can clearly measure in my system—which is another conversation for maybe another podcast is digging in a little bit deeper on how I actually track my leads and follow up with them and have my team chase them down—but I run video ads on social media, which drives about 90% of my leads, that about 10% come organically from my social media and from SEO articles.

I have a full-time blog writer and two SEO research members that—some of my biggest cases, even though my volume comes from Facebook—have come from just SEO articles where I get free leads from that stuff.

Darl: Now are any of the members of your marketing team virtual assistants?

Ethen: A hundred percent of them, other than the director they all report to. 

So my law firm infrastructure is me, my data scientist brother-in-law/business partner, litigation paralegal, and my marketing director, and I have an executive assistant who reports to me in my office. So it’s really like four or five people.

Darl: Now your blog writer, is that somebody who’s overseas too?

Ethen: Yes. Yeah, it’s a virtual assistant in the Philippines.

Darl: Oh, awesome. Well, that’s really fascinating and I would like to talk about marketing some more at some point because I think when we talk about obviously utilizing a VA, there’s probably some people who would like to have plenty of VAs if they just had the volume to support it.

If you have somebody listening to this podcast and they’ve thought about VAs, or maybe considered it, or have just never even considered it because they’ve got reservations about it, what would you say to them to get them over the edge? To say, “You know what? This is really why you need to think about it and how it’s going to actually make your law firm better”?

Ethen: Sure. So it’s really a pretty simple analysis. Part one is do you want to grow your law firm? If the answer is yes, you can hire someone stateside or you can hire a virtual assistant. 

Within that analysis is based on the tasks they want to do. The hardest person to hire, my dad used to say this all the time, “The hardest person to hire is a stateside receptionist who wants to remain a receptionist.” 

Typically receptionists want to graduate and become case managers, then graduate and become paralegals. It’s really the natural ascension of the American mindset.

Darl: Right.

Ethen: If you want to train up that 21-year-old law clerk to become someone that does intake for you, they’re going to possibly become great, and it’s worth the investment on the cost savings you might get, or they’re just going to leave you and take the intellectual property you just fed them. 

What we are is your permanent intake, reception, and admin tasks. We focus on the shit people hate doing and we maximize the value of those things. That’s why we talk about—and just, Darl, a couple things—so right here, the Future Firm Mastermind, I talked a little bit about this on LinkedIn. 

This Thursday we’re actually going to be releasing our mastermind that we’re going to be giving away. I used to get really frustrated because when I was not paying myself for the first 15 months of practicing in my firm and barely had the cashflow to cover our expenses, I tried joining masterminds and they were like $1,000 – $1,500 bucks a month. And I couldn’t afford it and I really needed the help. 

I’m giving away a lot of these concepts in courses and biweekly calls in my mastermind at $23 bucks a month, is what we’re going to be charging and we’re reinvesting 100% of that to host live events and to grow the masterminds. So that’s something that I just wanted to make sure to plug.

Darl: Absolutely.

Ethen: But yeah, I mean in terms of where do you start? If you are at the beginning, or you are currently a mid-size firm, or you’re currently a large firm, how and where you implement virtual assistants is different, but every single firm type I believe can benefit from a virtual assistant.

Darl: Excellent. You said something in our meeting last week that I think a lot of people don’t realize, and that was bringing the virtual assistant on board isn’t to replace your existing staff. 

It isn’t like, hey—I’m a big office space fan—you’re having a meeting with the Bobs and then you’re gone and we’re bringing in a virtual assistant in the Philippines or Belize or wherever they are. It’s these are people that are going to be part of your team to help your team members stateside. 

Now, they may allow you to avoid hiring somebody here and saving on that, but the idea is to have them be an extension and help your team, not replace them.

Ethen: Exactly. We like to define ourselves as the attrition solution. And if you allow for us to come in and part of the messaging is, “Hey, if you don’t do well, these guys are going to take your job,” you might already have some problems with your culture, and the culture is the heartbeat of our firms. 

And if your people are scared that they’re going to lose their job, because guess what’s going to happen. I said this to you when we had our call, Darl, my team is going to outwork your team. I promise you of that. They’re going to scare the shit out of them. 

What we have to kind of frame it as is there are really three categories of tasks: There’s brain surgery, sophisticated, and essential. Essential is most of the work we have to do. It’s our template letters, it’s our downloads, it’s our mail labeling, it’s our nights and weekends intake. It’s our reception. Essentials. 

We are here to take the essentials off your team’s plate. Your team hates doing the essentials anyway, so if it’s framed more as, “Hey, they’re going to take the stuff off your plate you hate doing anyway, and they’re going to just love doing that thing, so you can focus on talking to clients more, so you can focus on discovery, so you can focus on pleadings, so you can focus on showing up to trial and crushing that case and know that your file is fully organized and you don’t have to yell at your paralegal to go get medical records in tomorrow.” 

We like to focus on the shit people hate doing because that’s what you need the most right now.

Darl: I think the one thing that I want to mention before we go too is I was admittedly somebody who was skeptical—and full disclosure, we have not used Attorney Assistant yet, it’s something we’re absolutely looking into and exploring options to use it—but I think that looking at the opportunities that you have to improve efficiencies and increase efficiencies can really make a huge difference in your law firm, in your client service, in the things you’re doing.

You mentioned something about intake that I think a lot of people overlook and you said, “You need to hire somebody to do it unless you want to be the one taking the calls.” And I see too many people investing money in marketing and they don’t think, “How am I actually going to process these leads? How am I actually going to respond to them?”

And when you’re dealing with Google leads, social media leads, whatever, those leads need to be converted quickly because if I get a referral that’s coming in warm, I can typically—although I want to get to it quickly—they want to hire me. The person on Google’s got a ton of people they want to hire it. You’ve got to triage the case—is it something you want?—and convert it.

Something we did is—I mean we handle a decent number of medical malpractice cases—we hired a nurse to help screen the cases and then also do med chrons here, but if you’re going to invest money in marketing, you got to invest in working on the cases, intake, processing the leads, and all of that. And having a virtual assistant seems like a great way to do that.

Ethen: Yeah, I mean you hit on something really important, Darl. The expected conversion percentage of an attorney referral is the highest, then second is a former client referral, very close second, then third at about 50% to 60%, maybe at worst, 40%, is a Google lead, then a social media lead.

The expected conversion rate should be around 10%, but most firms, because their follow-up sucks is about 5%. Doubling your conversion percentage on social media only happens if you are relentless with follow-up. So something I’ll ask you is, do you think you need a virtual assistant? My response to that is how often and how many times do you follow up with your leads until you give up?

If it’s less than five, you are losing money. At my firm: call, text, email every three days, 15 times. At the 15th time we do an under review part to our case where we look, “Hey, does this one need to go to 22 or be shut down?” And the way that we evaluate that is a concept called percent want—I know I’m getting into the weeds here—

Darl: No, this is great.

Ethen: So the concept of percent want, this is something you can implement today, improve your follow-up, great, call more, alright, that’s easy. Percent want is, the way that I do this is if in the description of the lead—let’s say that they filled out a form on your website—in the description it has a signature or an injury you want or a fact pattern you want if it’s not a personal injury case. That’s a 100 at my firm.

If it’s blank, let’s say they just put first name, last name, phone number, and gave up, that’s a 75. If it’s first name, last name, phone number, and then something that on its surface contradicts the case type we want, that’s a one-third. And then if they orally confirm that they don’t have the case type that we want or the injury we want, that’s a zero and then it goes under review to be turned down.

I don’t permit VAs to turn anything down. I have a paralegal that turns things down. So a percent want concept combined with calling more will squeeze more juice out of your leads. That’s how we get a 12% to 15% conversion rate on Facebook when my competition’s getting 5% to 7%.

Darl: That’s great. This has been just as interesting as the call we had last week. I could probably talk to you for hours because you definitely know what you’re talking about and I really appreciate your time on the podcast.

For anybody listening that wants to reach out to Ethen, you can find him on LinkedIn. I’m connected with him there. He posts great content there. You can go to his website, and reach out to them, set up a meeting to learn more about how they can improve efficiencies at your law firm with VAs.

Ethen: We also do something called

Darl: Okay.

Ethen: Which is completely a free intake audit where we will literally secret shop your law firm, pretend to be clients, and we’ll give you a report.

Yes, we will try to plug your holes with VAs, I’m just being transparent. Because I know that will probably be the solution that will actually help you, but we will actually thoroughly, for free, test out your thing, give you the report. If you don’t want VAs, you can keep the report. It’s no problem.

But Audit My Intake is that if you just want us to do a general VA analysis or diagnose your firm and be helpful, we’re happy to do that on a normal call as well through our normal website, but I just wanted to make sure that I plugged that.

Darl: Awesome. Thanks Ethen. That is very valuable information, something that we’ll look at that as well. But appreciate having you on. I look forward to connecting with you in the future as we continue to talk about ways we can work together.

Ethen: Sounds great.

Darl: Alright, thanks.


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