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The Advantage of Having a Bilingual VBA

The United States of America is and always will be the land of opportunities, as well as, the land of immigrants. From the time of the earlier "conquistadors" in the 1500s to the "pilgrims" in 1600s; those who have come to the American continent from far away European lands, have hoped to improve financially or to expand their State's or family's treasure. Diverse groups accomplished their "American Dream" with the help of interpreters/translators of the local indigenous languages. The French in Louisiana, the Irish and English in New England and New York, the Germans, the Italians and we can certainly go on. History tells us that these first waves of immigrants traded, built, profited and yes, sometimes destroyed and plundered violently, almost always communicating their actions through translators or local middle men speakers of the local dialects. Hundreds of years have passed for the relatives and descendants of these individuals. Today, we know them as Americans. We can go on trying to move that virtual line of when is a person considered, American, and stops being an immigrant or we can all move and progress together. People will continue to argue this topic on both sides of the fence but that is the topic for another article.

The truth is that immigrants today, like yesterday, come into the country, the vast majority work hard, buy goods and services and their children and their children's children, inherit these goods, their wealth and properties big and small. With these movements of wealth and property, a new market and opportunity for Bilingual Virtual Bankruptcy Assistants has opened. Technology has, is developing, and plays a part by becoming businesses’ best friend.

This brings me to the subject I propose. The virtual bankruptcy assistant is an independent entrepreneur that provides administrative, creative technical communications assistance. The American Association of Virtual Bankruptcy Assistants defines the VBA as follows: A Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant is a knowledgeable, fully committed professional who prepares Bankruptcy Petitions under the direct supervision of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys.

You may ask yourself, "Where is the author going with this?" The answer follows. If you understand the value of a Virtual Bankruptcy Assistance, then, you understand the incremental value and profit potential that a Bilingual Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant (BVBA) represents.

New immigrant groups have considerable financial acquisition power due to their productivity and hard work. They continue to arrive and establish family and financial roots here. That has not changed since the time of the pilgrims. What has changed is the pace of their arrival. They come from South, Central America and the Caribbean. They work, produce, succeed and or fail much like their European counterparts did in the past. Today as yesterday, they pass their financial assets and properties and yes, debts to their American offspring. Many immigrants, just like regular "today Americans" are affected by the tough financial period we are living. Whether or not they or their parents speak English fluently hard economic times are upon. Conducting bankruptcy proceedings, banking transactions, court appeals and bureaucratic forms abound.

This is where a BVBA can help a small or large law firm or legal consultant. We want attorneys to consider the services of a BVBA as a tool to expedite procedures and communication with clients of limited English proficiency. Spanish is the language most spoken in our area; nonetheless, there are other language groups, that could benefit from the services of a BVBA. When established legal firms or those just starting use the services of a BVBA, attorneys and legal counselors increase profit margins and free precious professional billing hours. Regardless of the language, a BVBA helps to break down conversational and cultural barriers.

Here is a concrete example of the savings. The typical average legal fee is approximately $900.00 to represent a debtor in a chapter 7 proceeding. The staff and attorney spend an average of nine (9) hours per debtor in a typical bankruptcy case. Divide 9 hours into $900.00 to calculate a current rate. This figure does not take into consideration overhead expenses. A law firm's operating costs increases by not having the services of a BVBA to help expedite the handling of a bankruptcy's perfunctory forms and process.

I propose that a law firm could add these services "in house" for an additional fee to their clients; saving time and costs incurred in the hiring of professional translation services or bankruptcy forms processor's fees. A firm seeking to expand services into new markets could offer these services in the client's native language at no costs, if it so decides. The possibilities are endless and the cost savings opportunities very real. As the attorney's menu of services to his/her client expands, so does the bottomline.

Typical Time Spent Per Debtor Filing a Bankruptcy with a Bilingual Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant:

Service Performed Staff Time Your Time
Client Intake Interview 45 minutes 15 minutes
Client Intake Interview (Spanish) 0 0
Providing documents 0 0
Drafting of Peition 0 0
Calls to client 0 0
341 Meeting 0 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes 45 minutes

As you can see, by utilizing a virtual bankruptcy assistant that is also bilingual will provide law firms with additional advantages:

  1. Relief of current staff work load
  2. Cost savings from having to contract translators and interpreters services for clients whose language of highest proficiency is Spanish (in our case)
  3. VBA's skill set distinguish us for having impeccable record keeping and backup systems for our clients' work. When finished processing a petition the attorney requests a CD-ROM to be mailed or have the VBA save it in his/her office until further notice or need
  4. Maintain a more consistent and smoother workflow in the preparation of bankruptcy petitions, since one person prepares the document
  5. Have the freedom to choose from hundreds of reliable bilingual VBAs servicing your area
  6. When busy, attorney's offices could forward calls to a reliable VBA, streamlining communication and procedures. VBAs can locate records and conduct basic criminal record searches to ensure that the client has not revealed any additional debts. Federal forms and schedules are the same in all states
  7. Reduce office staff and overhead expenses by 75% percent

I hope that in some way, this article has opened the eyes of those involved in the consumer bankruptcy business to new possibilities by establishing the role of the Virtual Bilingual Bankruptcy Assistant. For the solo practitioner and the young lawyer just starting, who want to save on overhead and staff (full time bankruptcy paralegal) the Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant provides the ideal service. Thus, if the VBA is bilingual business can double. The VBA can draft all bankruptcy filing documents for the attorney's review on line and assist with due diligence, while freeing up otherwise billable hours. Offices that already have a bankruptcy paralegal can benefit, as well. By contracting a VBA, it is possible to free paralegal's time, while having someone work diligently to keep bankruptcy law firms-up to date. However, the most important feature of the service is to provide clients with a trustworthy, effective service in the language the client knows best and feels comfortable doing business. When using these professionals known as VBAs, lawyers and legal consultants increase profits, while expanding their businesses and image into new markets. Eventually, the tapestry of diverse peoples and languages that is the United States becomes a comfortable, familiar welcoming blanket with the passing generations. It happened once and will continue to happen. Although it began in foreign lands, the entrepreneurial spirit of America and its people will continue to flourish, grow and move forward. We, as professional Virtual Bilingual Bankruptcy Assistants will proudly make our contribution.

“Disclaimer - Professional Bankruptcy Assistant and all Virtual Bankruptcy Assistants are NOT a law firm, nor are we attorneys. We do not provide legal advice to viewers or customers. We cannot and do not advise any person or individual to their rights, remedies or obligations under the laws of the state of Florida or any state”.

Nitza Almentero was born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.A. and M.ed in Education. Nitza is a Certified Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant through AAVBA. She has worked as a VBA since 2005. She is fluent in English and Spanish. Other services provided are loan signings, immigration assistant and translations. Nitza lives in Oviedo, FL.

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