The Virtual Law Office: Law firms adapting to changing marketplace, client expectations
About ten years ago when I was fresh out of law school, I was chatting with a couple I admired and who had encouraged me and followed my progress in becoming a lawyer. We were standing outside the local farmers market; they were their usual laid-back-hip-selves while I was dressed in sportswear alongside my mountain bike, looking more like a university student than a lawyer. They were happy to see me finally getting to practice the law and so asked me the usual question “What law firm will you be joining?”. I paused and tried to find the right words to describe where I was going. What came out was this: “My law firm will be wherever I am. I’m going to be a laptop lawyer.” We laughed. Funny thing is, ten years later I would still sum up my legal practice in essentially those words.
The practice of the law has changed dramatically during the past decade and the changes are accelerating. Technology and client expectations have forced lawyers and law firms to re-evaluate their methods and even to re-imagine themselves and their roles in the legal arena.
So, what are the differences between the old ways and the new ones?
As mentioned, lawyers and clients alike are adapting to the “virtual office”. As in other fields across the global marketplace, more and more virtual law offices are replacing physical storefronts. In my case, I do all client consultations and case preparation personally, from a highly efficient and mobile electronic system. I have office space to meet my clients but it is streamlined.
There are many advantages to offering services this way. First, when you hire me, you pay for the effort I devote to your case, not to overhead costs. Second, when you call my office, you will talk to me personally, not a secretary. And, third, I can offer you legal services at a very competitive price.
Change is not easy, especially in the practice of the law which is steeped in tradition. Indeed, not all lawyers and law firms are adapting. But I believe firmly in the notion of embracing change. I also believe that those lawyers who adapt to the changing times and technologies will better serve their clients.