The power of technology has always been incredible to all of us by simplifying our everyday lives. In order to stay in track and ahead in today’s fast paced competitive world, an increase in productivity has become a vital necessity. This, of course, must be aligned with rapid advancement in technology as traditional businesses are getting more and more familiarized with adapting digitization. But who would have thought a decade ago, that we will have a wonderful opportunity to have “virtual law firms”? YES, that’s right virtual law firms are the highlight trend of 2019.

Legal cases can be a very hectic journey for both client and attorney. Hassle of time spent travelling, overhead costs and nerve-racking traditional environment can take a toll on the client. The virtual law firm is the solution to all these problems. Connecting to the desired lawyer, documentation transfer and other legal procedures are available online in the comfort of clients home or even remote areas. Virtual law firms have taken over traditional legal service providers and redefine the way legal practices operate and type of services that are on offer.

According to the research in 2017, around 800 lawyers in the UK work for Virtual Law firms and only 9% of solo practitioners in the world are virtual!

Some pointers listed below will cast light on the reason why many solo lawyers and small law startups have switched to the cloud. It’s a win-win situation for both clients and lawyers that you will be able to analyze at the end of this blog. (Remember to let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment)

In this Blog we cover:

1.Infographic on the major difference between virtual and traditional law firms

2.The Differences Explained

3.Expert Opinions: Read more from Virtual Law Firm PROs


Infographic:

Virtual VS Traditional Law Firm


The Differences Explained:

(1) Overhead costs:

Virtual law firms- Since its cloud-based, there are no organizational overhead costs like rent, computers, in house installation costs and so on. Attorneys main focus is just his/her clients. Clients are reassured that their legal issues are the only issues that are getting full attention and are priority listed. The purpose-built cloud-based practice management software has the advantage to function from distant, with less cost. The main goal for virtual law firms is to provide the same level of services as traditional law firms but minus the hassle of the overhead expenses and undivided attention.

Traditional Law firms– Most large traditional law firms prefer to practice law than worrying about overhead costs but unfortunately, that’s not the case. To generate a normal traditional law business a lot of cost and hard work goes into maintaining the firm’s reputation. Traditional law firms are affected by several costs like IT/maintenance costs as well and the other legacy costs which slow their progress and their ability to adopt change.


(2) Communication & Connectivity with Clients

Communication is an essential key when it comes to clients, it helps in building strong lawyer-client relationships and develop mutual understanding. Therefore, it’s very important to ensure smooth client communication.  

Virtual Law firms: People might have a wrong misconception of services through an online portal is limited as it’s not done in person. Even though virtual and traditional law firm setting is pretty similar, but virtual law firms have proven to be more efficient and effective. You might be wondering, How? Well, with virtual lawyers it’s easy to get more time for full-service representation, more flexibility to schedule meetings and focus on the communication to build stronger relationships through online face to face meetings. This reflects even better client service.

Traditional Law firms– Meetings in traditional settings are meant to happen in person but most of the time it’s impossible. Traditional law firm setting lacks lawyer-client communication, it’s difficult to find time for meetings along with other corporate work in process. Their main source of communication is through emails and phone calls, where their attention is undivided. This might not be beneficial for the client in the future.


(3) Collaborative Work Environment

Collaborating cases with colleagues makes the legal process more reliable and effective.

Virtual law firms: Cloud-based case management software supports secure online collaboration on cases and documents. This enables only the colleagues who are assigned on a particular case to work together. The access is available to most updated versions of the case, documents, contacts, and emails are centrally organized. Project management tool makes collaborative work easier and efficient, as you can track the progress, set tasks and deadlines and manage your work calendar and set up automated workflows.

Traditional Firms: Collaborating in a traditional firm could be a little risky. Printed documents, contacts or other hard copy of legal documents have a higher chance of falling into wrong hands. It’s not a secure environment. Therefore, lawyers are often hesitant to collaborate.


(4) Flexibility & Approach

Today everything is available on the internet, even information regarding any legal issues that a person might have.

Virtual law firm: is more versatile, the lawyer is independent and able to work from anywhere anytime. Lawyers from virtual practice are more competitive and profit wise. Lawyers are just not dependent to serve clients in their region but, also serve clients that are geographically distant.

Traditional law firms: The best part of virtual law firms is that a lawyer is able to work from anywhere anytime which therefore results in profit. Whereas, the lawyer from a traditional law firm is completely dependent to work in from the office and can’t work in a changing environment.


(5) Digital Influence

Today everything is available on the internet, even information regarding any legal issues that a person might have.

Virtual law firms: People use the internet to its advantage and try to understand those issues themselves instead of paying a high cost to go through a legal procedure. Therefore, a lawyer with virtual practice has an opportunity to connect with clients like these over the internet. It’s a win-win situation for both of them. Clients get their legal issues solved from a professional lawyer in low cost and less time whereas lawyers get many several similar cases on the internet itself. Having a virtual law office makes it a low cost and low effort process to capture these types of clients.

Traditional law firms:  Unfortunately, most traditional law firms don’t have this opportunity and they don’t tend to look for it either. Traditional lawyers expect clients to contact them through emails or calls, which is a dreading and time-consuming process for most clients. Most people today try to opt for less cost and more effective way of issues getting solved.


Expert Opinion:

Hear from Virtual Law Firm PROs

(1) Laura Fauqueur (Connect with Laura on LinkedIn)
Passionate about justice, #LegalTech, legal marketing, communications, and languages. Former court interpreter. Marketing and BD Director at Yingke Adarve Law Firm, co-organizer of Madrid Chapter of the Legal Hackers, and European Legal Technology Association ELTA ambassador, etc.

Laura Fauqueur, Legal Tech,
Director Master

“Lawyers need to be just as virtual as their clients! Though I disagree with an “online only” policy, I also fully disagree with a “not online policy” for a law firm. It is complicated to find a “one size fits all” for legal services, as you will always have companies and people demanding different kinds of services. Many commodity services are a perfect fit for online services, where face-2-face meetings are a loss of time for both client and lawyer (small claims or drafting simple contracts are two examples). At the opposite side from the commoditized services, we can find the legal services with very high added-value, the ones where typically the lawyer who advises you makes a huge difference or the very complex legal works where a big multidisciplinary and multi-jurisdictional team is needed. For this kind of work, virtual services and relations are of a very different type, but also very much needed, as time, distance and budget need to be bridged and online collaboration is a must”


(2) Faith Obafemi (Connect with Faith on LinkedIn) Digital lawyer passionate about legaltech, blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts. Faith’s legal practice is essentially virtual (cloud practicing.) Her practice area revolves around technology, blockchain, crypto, Smart Contracts, and ICO.

Faith Obafemi, Future-Proof Intelligence Co-Founder, Head of strategy

“As service offering professionals, we have to go meet our clients where they are. These days, they are often, almost always online. Research says remote jobs are expected to rise by at least 32% in two years, and there are companies that run 100% online. Legal practice going virtual is simply an inevitability strengthened by the rise in online courts and ODR (online dispute resolution). Virtual law firms have a suite of advantages over brick and mortar ones. For one, they offer flexibility. A byproduct of flexibility is efficiency since rather than adhering to the norm, one can pick their own schedule, enabling them to work only when they are at their optimal state. The reason flexibility is a big issue is that it makes it easy for women, someone recuperating from a surgery (e.g me, where I had a 2-year hiatus due to a fracture Surgery) or someone with a disability (e.g again, me, where I have a hearing impairment) or just someone away for an extended period to have viable options at their disposal. Staying CyberSafe is very important as we lawyers handle sensitive information belonging to our clients. Our client duty, therefore, extends to ensuring we utilize the most secure means of relating to our clients virtually”


Conclusion

In conclusion, having a virtual firm in the cloud is a great way to have many endless opportunities for both clients and lawyers. It enables lawyers to run a more competitive firm and deliver quality services that meet clients demands.

With the rise in digitization and emerging technologies, a platform like ADAM Global has come in as a solution for global professional service providers. Besides offering a network of accredited professionals, it offers premium members a platform for enhanced cross border business. The network, with its online platform and communication tools such as the ADAM Digital Office, enables members for enhanced digital visibility and to an extent overcome the operational cost of maintaining a virtual law firm.

The platform integrates these trends not just for legal services firms but for a broad spectrum of businesses in the professional services industry including accounting, consulting, advisory, immigration, market research, healthcare, HR, It solutions. This allows firms from across disciplines to work together and offer their own clients a wide range of service offering through a multi-disciplinary approach delivered only by accredited service providers. Members enjoy an advanced tier-3 Network, an online B2B marketplace and a community of accredited professional service providers via a singular platform.


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Contributed by:

Hafsa Ahmed (Connect with Hafsa on LinkedIn)

Hafsa Ahmed is an enthusiastic Marketing and Research Intern at ADAM Global. Find out more about how it is like working with ADAM Global on hafsa.ahmed@adamglobal.com

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