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Essential Tools For Your Virtual Law Firm
Many law firms across the country became virtual law firms in 2020, and chances are your law firm still operates remotely in some respect. At first, this reality was unsettling, and most law firms were not prepared to function in a virtual capacity. However, many companies are adapting to this phenomenon with the help of convenient tools for a virtual law firm. Although few law firms were originally prepared to operate this way, suitable technology was ready to go. There is an abundance of essential tools that can assist your law firm as it serves its clients.
Before you add software tools for your virtual law firm, there are a few basic pieces of equipment needed: a computer, a reliable internet connection and a portable scanner. It is recommended to think “paperless” when setting up a remote office operation, since any documents would be a hassle to store securely.
A compelling, professional website is a must for any virtual law office. A website establishes your online law practice and can replace certain functions of your brick and mortar office. It is a key way you can introduce yourself to the public, publish your brand and find individuals who fall within your target audience.
Law Practice Management System
Your modern remote law firm needs a stable system in order to oversee client matters, and the system should be tailored to address the needs of a law practice. Staff members need access to data from each of their remote locations and a management system designed for law firms gives your company a centralized tool to keep it all together. The software you choose will depend on the needs of your specific law practice. Some popular examples of this type of software include: MyCase, Clio, and Rocket Matter. Law practice management software allows you to manage everything in one portal, and can include functions such as:
- Time and Billing
- Documents and other information
- Staff communications
- Financial data
- E-signature capability
- Text and email messaging
- Client Portals
A client portal is now one of the must-have tools for virtual law firms and for many other types of businesses. These online spaces provide a secure way for clients to log in to access information they need. Law firms can use a client portal to allow users to pay their bills, communicate with their attorney, get updates and upload their personal documents. More secure than email, client portals offer optimum privacy for client matters. A client portal can be set up through the law practice management system you choose.
Video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Google Meets have been the hottest tool for many businesses lately, and these are an ideal way to conduct client meetings while obeying social distancing guidelines. Video conferencing must be reliable, user friendly, and secure. Whatever video conferencing tool you choose, let it be the one all team members utilize. For a well-functioning conference, all staff will need standard accessories such as a laptop, microphone and webcam. Training is crucial and should include meeting guidelines, instruction on audio and video features, and how to troubleshoot issues that arise during a meeting.
If you do not have cloud storage already, this is the perfect time to start. Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox allow staff members to upload and share documents, and access documents from any virtual office. Your law firm can customize cloud storage to suit your needs.
When working with tools for a virtual law firm, a password keeper is crucial. Popular tools such as LastPass or 1Password allow staff members to access anything without sharing the actual password. With a password keeper, your team has admittance to everything they need for work, but access can be revoked if it is longer needed, or if an individual leaves the law firm.
Conferencing phone systems are common, but many of these operate only within an actual office. When a law office goes virtual, it may need a VoIP phone system instead. VoIP (voice over internet protocol) uses an internet connection, allowing you to operate untethered to your actual law office. Using VoIP, you can make and receive conference calls and store messages in various ways. Some popular VoIP systems include: RingCentral, Corvum and 8×8.
Virtual Call Center
If your law firm uses a call center, you can employ a cloud-based software such as Aircall or 8×8. These tools for virtual law firms work like a standard phone, but they track time and calls made and are connected to your other essential tools.
Shared Word Processing
Working from a variety of locations, it is helpful to have a collaborative word processing system. Instead of passing a document back and forth through email messaging, you can effortlessly share a document with other users, making changes and comments along the way. This cloud-based tool allows anyone invited to view and change documents from any location. Google Docs is one popular example of collaborative word processing, but there are a variety of other options as well.
A channel for chatting is another one of the essential tools for a virtual law firm. Your team may have already employed one of these messaging tools even before going remote. Chat Tools such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Salesforce Chatter allow your attorneys and staff to communicate quickly with individuals or groups. They allow you to call meetings and share files and photos to specific clients or team members.
Even if you go back to the law firm office, you may eventually want to go paperless, or at least reduce paper use. When operating as a virtual office, each staff member needs to have a portable scanner. Scanning client documents and storing them via cloud storage will free up your limited space and make locating documents much easier. Choose scanners that can integrate with your Law Practice Management System and your other cloud-based software.
Remote Office Space
These days, many attorneys work completely remote, and do not always have a private location for the workday. A quiet office setting is sometimes imperative, and you can find such a location through a virtual office. These are real office spaces for one person, business suites for several people to share, or conference room rentals. Several companies offer these locations for a monthly fee, and they are located all over the world. Some of the top choices include: Regus, Opus, Sococo and EOffice.
Do Not Forget Training
When you choose new tools for your virtual law firm, make sure your team members are trained to use it, a practice that will avoid trouble later on. Most software solutions are accompanied by training videos and online help, allowing team members to grasp the information at their own pace and troubleshoot various issues when they arise. When it comes to new virtual tools, it is crucial to make time for initial training, ongoing assistance, and continued feedback.
How Law Quill Can Help
When browsing tools for virtual law firms, there are many powerful choices at your fingertips. Start by examining what your unique law firm requires and which essential tools will work best for your staff and your clients. Provide training for your law firm’s team members, and perhaps your virtual office can be more efficient and successful than it ever was before.
We are here to help and would welcome the opportunity to visit with you for free regarding the needs of your virtual law firm, and take these tasks off your plate! Schedule a free visit with us by scheduling a quick phone or zoom call at your convenience on our calendar today. You can also email us at [email protected]