Essential Tools For Your Virtual Law Firm

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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 of a virtual law firm 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 virtual law firm as it serves its clients. 

Basic Tools of a Virtual Law Firm 

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. 

Compelling Website

A compelling, professional website is a must for any virtual law firm. 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 for Your Virtual Law Firm 

Your modern virtual 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:

  • Accounting
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Time and Billing
  • Invoices
  • Documents and other information
  • Staff communications
  • Financial data
  • E-signature capability
  • Text and email messaging
  • Client Portals

Client Portal

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. A virtual law firm 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 for Your Virtual Law Firm

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.

Cloud Storage

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.  

Password Keeper

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.

Phone Systems

VOIP

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. 

Chat 

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. 

Scanning 

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. 

Law Quill | Essential Tools For Your Virtual Law Firm

How To Start a Virtual Law Practice

According to the American Bar Association, the rise of virtual law practices has led to a more competitive legal market. Due to this, you may want to start your own online law practice, particularly as it can reduce your overall costs. Below are several steps to follow to help you start your online law firm.

Consider Relevant Regulations and Ethics

When starting an online law firm, think about the relevant regulations it might be necessary for you to follow, alongside any ethical considerations. For instance, some states may require you to have a physical office to practice. In this scenario, you cannot have a completely virtual law firm, but you can partially operate as a virtual firm. Due to this, it is important to check with your state bar association so you thoroughly understand the rules regarding virtual lawyers for your local area.

Alongside this, a key duty of a lawyer involves protecting their client’s data and doing their utmost to prevent client confidentiality breaches. When you practice law virtually, a greater level of your client communications takes place online. As a result, it is crucial that you have adequate security and encryption measures in place for these communications.

Create a Plan

As with setting up a traditional law firm, it is necessary to create a thorough plan when looking to establish a virtual one. To do this well, consider the following tips:

  • Draft a virtual law firm business plan. In this plan, outline the goals you want your firm to achieve, define the firm’s values and vision, state the firm’s proposed budget, and include research on the local legal market.
  • Think about how to handle new clients. Online law firms may use automated systems to handle new clients. This is worth considering as this can reduce your virtual firm’s workflow by automatically generating client forms and arranging initial consultations.
  • Consider your communications. Make sure you think about how everyone within the virtual law firm can communicate with each other. Additionally, consider how your firm may securely communicate with clients.
  • Determine your marketing efforts. To launch a virtual law firm, it is necessary to develop an effective online marketing strategy. This involves creating an optimized, well-designed website, alongside considering how to effectively reach potential customers through paid online advertising efforts and social media.

Transition to a Virtual Practice

If you run an existing firm, these tips can be helpful when looking to change your business model to a virtual firm:

  • Take your time. Avoid rushing into becoming a fully virtual firm, as this may result in you making costly mistakes. Instead, take your time and think about becoming a hybrid model before gradually transitioning into a fully virtual firm.
  • Think about how you can do current tasks virtually. Consider what tasks your traditional firm completes and the possible ways of doing them virtually. For instance, rather than having a physical filing system, invest in cloud-based case management software instead.
  • Consider automating your current processes. Alongside thinking about how to complete tasks virtually, consider how you may completely automate these processes to improve your firm’s workflow. When doing this, just make sure any systems you use to automate your processes have a high level of security.

How Law Quill Can Help Your Virtual Law Firm 

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 as a virtual law firm. 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. Going virtual means considering outsourcing your blog content and your social media marketing – Law Quill can help you with both!

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 support@lawquill.com