Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Virtual Law Firm

What thoughts are evoked when I ask you to imagine the traditional law firm?  Does your mind's eye see fancy offices festooned with persian carpets, basking in sunlight coming through big glass windows in a Class A office building?  Perhaps you see a richly paneled office in a converted Victorian house.  Then again maybe you see four walls and simple furnishings within a suite on the ground floor of a suburban professional building.

All of these are familiar images.  However, there is no norm anymore when it comes to the traditional law office.  Nowhere in the practice of law is this footprint changing more than in family law.  With the advent of the internet, video conferencing, and digital documentation the idea of the traditional law firm space is morphing.  The virtual law firm is becoming more and more prevalent. What is it?  Good question.

The virtual law office does away with the traditional notion of rented or owned commercial space
where every attorney has his or her own dedicated office.  Instead lawyers and staff work remotely from their homes (or elsewhere) logging into an office computer server hosted in the cloud or at a physical space smaller than the norm.  The idea of office-less law firms and lawyers has given birth to a whole new lexicon:  virtual lawyering, e-lawyering, free-range lawyers, remote lawyering. . .  Client interaction takes place via telephone, or by email, or by video conferencing.   If lawyer and client need to meet face to face, law firms rent executive suite space (Regus and Pacific Business Centers are two executive suite pioneers) on an hourly basis (the conference room on call).  In other set ups private offices are replaced by cubicles.  The library is eliminated in favor of online books.  One conference room becomes the de facto site for client and firm meetings.

It is not just solos that are virtualizing.  The Rosen Law Firm in North Carolina, along with its 14 family law lawyers and staffers has burned its commercial leases, and eliminated full-time office space altogether.  Its people work from their homes and meet with clients at courthouses, or pay as you go conference centers.

Let me speak from personal experience.  Commercial space is expensive.  I own the building in Pleasanton that my law firm is headquartered in.  That does not mean that I am blind to the overhead created by physical space.  We used to have a very nice, very large library/conference room, with a huge ten person conference table.  I got tired of paying hundreds of dollars per month to maintain a paper library.  I cancelled all of our print subscriptions, and converted to online products.  This reduced my library cost by about 60% to 75%.  Then I had all of the space that was no longer needed for library shelving.  I hired two guys with a pick-up truck from the Home Depot parking lot to haul all the books to the dump.  Then we subdivided the library space into a small conference room and an attorney office.  I instantly doubled my usable space. We still had a sufficient meeting space (in family law meetings rarely exceed 4 or 5 people), and I had a lovely new attorney office at my disposal.

For years I have accessed my office computer network remotely from my home and the road, and I have loved the freedom.  It is nice to get away from the office but still be productive.   If I want to spend the day in my lovely home, working in my sweats I can.  I have long made use of associates and contract attorneys who have never even been to my Pleasanton office.  Instead we communicate and collaborate over the internet (via Skype and email).  I have a contract with an executive suite company in Walnut Creek, California so that I can conveniently meet with clients there.  I pay by the hour, and pay only for the space that I actually use.  The offices and conference rooms there are beautiful, clean, and modern.  It also allows me to legitimately list a second office on my letterhead, website, and marketing materials.  The clients don't mind at all. Click here to visit the Walnut Creek office of Harding & Associates Family Law.

Want a few samples?  Here are some links to some nifty virtual law firms and offices:

Sue Boyall
Axiom Law
McIlveen Family Law Firm
Rachel Rodgers

Virtual practice, a great way to expand or streamline and economize your practice.  Please visit hardinglaw.com for more information about Harding & Associates Family Law 

#virtuallawoffice #virtuallawfirm #Harding&AssociatesFamilyLaw #californiafamilylaw #divorce #family law #superlawyers #americanacademyofmatrimoniallawyers #Pleasantondivorce #AlamedaCountyDivorce #ContraCostaCountyDivorce #lawyersThe idea of office-less law firms and lawyers has given birth to a whole new lexicon:  virtual lawyering, e-lawyering, free-range lawyers, remote lawyering . . .


Sillowine sanderson said...

Those are great points. It's so true, Barrie lawyers always have their tablets and phones when they work.

Aedd Karston said...

Thanks for sharing such a sweet post.

virtual answering service

Solo nets Supreme Court win!

I know this has nothing to do with technology, but I think it is pretty cool. Andrew Simpson is a sole practitioner in the U.S. Virgin Is...