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Virtual Law Offices

A reoccurring theme in my blog posts have been about a single-lawyer law firm and what sort of technology the firms should continuing using or newly adopt or adapt to.   Well, unfortunately for my readers, this one will be no different.   Apologies.

This blog is meant to discuss in a broad overview the concept of a virtual law office.  A virtual law office is a law office that is not in the traditional brick-and-mortar office space setting.  This virtual law office depends on new technology to do its work.  According to the article Launching a Virtual Law Firm written by Chad Burton and located on the ABA website, these firms use cloud-based technology to operate the firm and use an online client portal to communicate with clients of the delivery of legal services.

These law firms permit a lower barrier of entry for lawyers to get started, according to Burton.  A new lawyer that does not want the traditional big firm setting may need to enter the market for cheap, or with low overhead costs.  A large overhead costs for these attorneys, however, generally is the renting or purchasing of an office space.   Additionally, this will permit less employees, which again lowers your overhead costs significantly.

However, in order to use these law firms, you need to understand the technology you are using and be able to apply your legal skill set through that technology.  Learning this technology well, will require a steep learning curve for the start-up lawyer.

Additionally, you need to look at the type of law your practice and other business factors.   The areas of law I plan on practicing are criminal defense and family law. Where I plan on practicing is a poverty stricken small town in southeastern Ohio.  This area, for example, might not be the best place to have a virtual office for demographic reasons.  A large amount of potential clients are indigent and probably do not have the ability to access to a computer or mobile device on a regular occasion.  Cell phone service is spotty, and there are only a small amount of libraries with computer and internet access.  This would make client communication extremely difficult through technology.  It is easier for many people to just call and schedule an appointment at the brick-and-mortar law office.

In my opinion, although this may be economically feasible for me in the short-term, I do not think it would be economically feasible for the business in the long-term.  My firm’s potential client base would, very understandably, not be interested in this form of legal services.

However, this may be the way to go for a different type of attorney in a practicing in a different geographic region.  It all depends on the facts and circumstances for that attorney–everyone’s favorite legal standard.

Andrew Grillo