The virtual law firm - myth or reality?

The virtual law firm has become a new way to practice law using enhanced technology to better serve clients, away from the stress of high office rent and a long and taxing commute. Virtual law firms could range from no brick-and-mortar buildings at all to a cloud-based, distributed firm with a set number of fixed locations and several hundred attorneys.

Virtual is the new law firm reality

The larger virtual firms may have more than two dozen fixed locations and a secure, sophisticated infrastructure so that partners are free to work from the location of their choice while passing savings on to the client. The smaller firms rely on technology, automation, and outsourcing, removing the need for support staff.

In terms of legal and administrative workflow, virtual firms have several benefits. In contrast to a weekly meeting in which cases are assigned and discussed, virtual firms can encourage collaboration between attorneys across all geographies and disciplines to best serve the client.

Clients are busy too

Technology serves to foster and sustain collaborative relationships at low costs, prioritise data security, host email services, incorporate central document management, promote secure collaboration and file-sharing, and provide opportunity for effective communication through calls and messages.

Clients can attend consultations over the phone after making appointments with a virtual reception service or on an online calendar. One firm provides clients with a client portal for communication, sharing documents, and making payments.

Workspaces seem to vary greatly from firm to firm. Because clients are themselves very busy, even traditional firms are doing just about everything over email, phone calls, or video conferencing.

Clients are extremely happy with the virtual firm model. They understand that most legal services are provided over the telephone and email and they might not ever meet the lawyer who they are working with. In this way, virtual firms are no different to brick-and-mortar firms. The freedom that virtual firms have to decide against hiring paralegals and junior attorneys helps clients to understand that they are paying for services from experienced lawyers, and not fancy offices and junior personnel.

Hard work pays off

A virtual practice is an asset to attorney retention, supervision, and motivation. Attorneys can work the hours they choose and are free to attend to personal matters without being judged for time off from the office. The cloud-based approach allows partners to be at home about twice as much as is possible at a traditional firm. At the same time, an esprit-de-corps is maintained through regular all-firm conference calls, community service activities, and an annual partnership retreat.

Partners are incentivised to work together and produce high quality work for the benefit of the client. A formula-based compensation system allows for lower billing rates, reducing overhead, saving clients, and creating happy partners.

It can be a struggle to change and adapt a model that was created more than a hundred years ago, especially for lawyers who value tradition over practicality. But at the end of the day, the hard work involved in running a virtual law firm pays off. This model can be extremely rewarding, both professionally and personally.

How Doccly Deal Rooms help firms to virtualize

Doccly Deal Rooms helps people manage professional services transactions. It is a highly functional platform where clients and staff, with the help of Dealbots™, can manage transactions to completion, quickly and efficiently.

Our Dealbots can perform tasks such as document management, contact management, contract management, notes, calendaring, etc. so that clients and professional staff are free to do other things. They will be notified by the Dealbot when any events occur requiring their attention.