With the advancement in technology and the popularity of the Internet, almost everything today can be found and can be done online. For example, if you need new clothes, you can easily purchase them from online stores. If you are hungry, you can also order food from different restaurants online without having to leave your home. Even services like dentists’ and doctors’ appointments can now be done online with just a click of a button.
With this, many professionals from different industries are considering setting up their own virtual offices, and these include lawyers. For example, if you are a new lawyer and you’re searching for the best employment law firms that you can join, you’ll be able to find various options when you search online, as there are now many virtual law firms out there.
At the present time, it is easier to set up a website for any type of business. This is why there is an increasing number of legal professionals who are opening their own practices online, as they find it more convenient than having to rent a physical office space. Also, having a virtual law firm may help you meet the needs of your clients even during extraordinary times. It also places your firm as a flexible and mobile option for those who are unable to visit your office in the future. And, of course, it enables you and your team to work remotely on an ongoing permanent basis or flexible schedule.
If you are interested in creating your own online law office, we are here to help you. In this post, we are giving you some tips for setting up a virtual law firm.
Create a Business Plan
For any endeavor to be successful, an action plan is needed, and setting up a virtual law firm is not an exception. Whether you are opening a new practice or transitioning from a physical office, it is important that you take some time to write a detailed business plan. You will use this as your guide through the entire process, as well as to address challenges.
When creating a business plan, you should include the mission statement, a general description, and financial information about your firm. You may also include an organization chart that lays out the structure of the firm, along with each of the positions within the practice. It is also essential that you include here a service description of the practice areas of your firm, including fee schedules and hourly rates.
Your business plan should also include a marketing plan that lays out the different efforts that will be made to market your law firm and attract potential clients. This may include hiring a tech startup incubator to help you connect your business with customers, just like what DMZ.ryerson.ca does. Also include a financial projections section in your plan, which lists the financial goals of your firm, along with the earnings and cost projections.
Having an efficient and effective flow within a law firm is very important to become successful. It’s because when you don’t have a structured process, your staff will waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to accomplish administrative tasks. What’s more challenging is that in a virtual environment, your firm members are not within the same space where you can easily share ideas and information with one another. Therefore, it is very essential to establish a clearly defined administrative process for your virtual law firm.
When creating different processes, it may help when you think about how you and your firm members will handle various situations. These may include client consultations, new client intakes, document storage, mail distribution, internal and external communications, time tracking, client invoicing, and more. After you have made all of the important decisions, reduce them to writing by creating manuals and standards of operations for your virtual law firm.
Promote a United Firm Culture
In a virtual law firm, your firm members are going to be working from different locations. With this setup, it is quite challenging to establish a unified firm culture. Some employees may experience isolation and depression when working from home. But you can work against these risks by establishing a group charter, which may include the mission, objectives, roles, and responsibilities of each firm member to make everyone feel included. In addition to that, you can also create activities and practices that promote a unified culture, such as lunch chats, book clubs, and anything that provides positive virtual work environments.
Think About Client Experience
When you establish a virtual law firm, it is not only you and your firm members who are going to experience your business. Your clients are also going to deal with situations that are different from visiting a physical law firm. Therefore, you need to ensure that the virtual nature of your firm does not lessen the client experience or the ability of your firm to give clients great legal services.
For your virtual law firm to provide a good client experience, try to think of circumstances such as how you will hold client meetings, how you will deliver important documents securely, how you will update your clients regularly, and the technical resources that you need to meet the needs of your clients within a virtual environment. Accomplishing these things will help you ensure that your firm will provide a good client experience.
Transition to Online Billing and Payments
Since your law firm is virtual, it is also essential to have online and contactless billing and payments. Today, there are various platforms that you can use to eliminate the need for paper invoices and clients dropping off checks. Most of these are apps that allow clients to view their outstanding bills, make payments online, and provide them copies of their invoices.
Use Internal and External Communications Tools
If you plan your virtual law firm to have a team of attorneys and support staff, then it is essential to have internal communications tools that will enable you to interact with one another fast and easily throughout the day. There are now lots of virtual network environments to choose from, including apps like Microsoft Meetings and Slack.
The tools you want to employ for external communications with clients and other legal professionals must also be taken into account. Since all of you are working from various locations, using different home and cell phones can make your firm appear unprofessional to existing and potential clients. Therefore, having only one telephone number and email address is a good idea.
You can also utilize VoIP technologies that will allow your firm to communicate with clients and colleagues seamlessly in a virtual environment. With these technologies, calls are routed over internet protocol networks. This means that no matter where your firm members initiate calls, the recipient will see only one consistent telephone number for the firm.
Setting up a virtual law firm is a great idea, especially if you want to broaden your reach when it comes to finding potential clients. It may be challenging at first, but when you have created a good business plan, the process can become much easier. Establishing a virtual law firm may include a lot of considerations, but we hope that the simple tips we’ve shared in this post help you in becoming successful with your goal.