Running a law practice looks much different than it did five years ago. Nearly everything that happens during your day—meeting clients, scheduling appointments, and drafting and storing documents—can be accomplished more efficiently using virtual tools and platforms.
The ABA reports that 60 percent of lawyers use cloud applications. The seismic shift toward a virtual workplace has presented a new question: does a law practice need a physical location? While you may miss the material and social aspects of the office, it is no longer necessary and often does not justify the expense. Instead, you can enjoy the following top five benefits of having a virtual law practice.
1. Increased Client Base
You are licensed to practice law in your entire state, so why limit yourself to your metropolitan area? Meeting with your clients virtually means they do not need to live within driving distance of your office. If you practice in a state with several big cities like Pennsylvania, New York, California, Florida, or Texas, operating a virtual law office allows you to substantially expand your potential client base.
2. Reduced Overhead Costs
When you think about the costs of rent, furniture, supplies, food and beverages, and utilities for your office, you may realize that eliminating these costs can save a lot of money—maybe even enough money for you to hire another employee. Similarly, you may have selected your office site based on its location. Being near other businesses may have been the right move at the time; however, with a virtual law office, your client does not need to walk through your office door to meet with you, so you can save money on a prime office location. This can also reduce the pressure to “earn back” the cost of rent and utilities each month.
3. Improved Security
With a virtual law practice, clients’ files can be stored in the cloud, where they will be protected by passwords and multifactor authentication.
Cloud storage can offer more security than the filing cabinets in your office, because cabinets are often left unlocked, allowing anyone from the office staff to the cleaning crew to compromise the security and confidentiality of documents. Paper files can also be misplaced or destroyed by a fire or flood, while in the cloud, clients’ documents remain safe.
4. Work-Life Balance
A virtual law practice can improve your work-life balance and reduce stress by giving you the flexibility to create a schedule that meets your needs. For example, if a repair technician needs to visit your house, you will not be stuck downtown at the office. In fact, 77 percent of workers say they are more productive working from home. Further, eliminating your daily commute can return countless hours to your professional and personal lives.
5. Ability to Compete with Online Solutions
Some people try to save money on legal services by using websites such as LegalZoom or LegalShield. These clients could be persuaded to hire a real attorney who can provide more personalized service while advising them virtually on their current and future legal needs.
Tools Needed for Your Virtual Law Practice
Starting a virtual law practice does not require a huge outlay of capital. In fact, you may already possess some of the necessary tools. The only hardware you need is a computer with an Internet connection. Here are some software solutions that can help:
In many ways, your website serves as your office. This is where clients get their first impression of you, consider what you have to offer, and contact you about making a purchase. A strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, along with email and social media marketing campaigns, can keep clients coming through your virtual doors.
Virtual Meeting and Signing Software
Zoom or other online meeting rooms are a crucial piece of having a virtual law practice. Because you will use this software regularly, you should have a strategy for helping older clients and others who are not as familiar with scheduling and login options for virtual meetings. It may be helpful to provide an instructional video or step-by-step directions for joining and participating in these types of calls.
DocuSign is another valuable software tool, as it allows you and your clients to sign documents virtually instead of having to meet in person or send paper back and forth.
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