Heading to a Modern Virtual Law Office with Cloud Computing

With all of these techno jargon flying around, there seems to be a misconception on what a virtual law firm actually is.  Can you be considered a virtual law firm if you just have no office?  The fact of the matter is that there is no standard definition yet on what constitutes a virtual office.

This is because, any law firm that uses technology, like the sending of documents via email is in one form or another practicing law virtually.  What do you call when you video conference with your clients or chat online?  This is another form of virtual law practice.  So how can you say that you have a virtual law firm?

Going Virtual

Technology is currently moving the practice of law into a phase of re-engineering so to speak.  It is allowing traditional methods to be applied and improved using current advancements.  Many law firms are partially virtual at this point with many using paperless documentation and relying heavily on the Internet as a venue for communication.

But is there more to being a virtual law firm?  Actually, establishing a non-formal workplace is another criteria of having a virtual office.  This means that not only the lawyers, but every staff and employee should be able to telecommute or work off-premises at any given time.

Being virtual after all is almost synonymous to lacking a physical presence.  So, if you still have the need to require employees to report to the office regularly or lack the flexibility to expand or reduce personnel as you need it, you are only halfway to being a virtual law firm.

You may not realize it, but when the telephone and the fax machine found its way into law firms, it signaled the introduction of the virtual office.  This is because the traditional face-to-face meeting between lawyers and clients was no longer a necessity.  Documents could be sent across the globe using the fax machine.  As technology progressed, the video conferencing capability allowed people not only to talk, but even do presentations online.

Role of the Cloud

The prevailing notion of what a virtual office should be is that it must be boundless.  This means that documents and records should not be accessible only from the law firm, but can be made available from anywhere.

Cloud computing makes it possible to store the information on the Internet and accessible through an online portal that has security protocols.  After all, the basic concept of protecting client privacy is still of paramount importance regardless of the prevailing technology.

So in essence, the role of the Cloud is to ensure that the exchange, storage, and release of information can be done from anywhere an Internet connection is present.  Cloud computing also makes it possible for law firms to take advantage of mobile computing by being able to access documents using mobile phones or tablets and not just with desktop or laptop computers.

What other advantages does Cloud computing bring to the virtual office?

  • Easier collaboration;
  • Multi-user mode is possible;
  • Free useful and powerful programs available;
  • Document sharing is faster and easier;
  • Improved security measures and data protection; and
  • Allows for cost-effective implementation of quality and accurate law services.

Establishing the Future

Traditionally senior lawyers would take under their wing junior attorneys or associates to train or groom them as the future of the firm.  With the introduction of virtual law firms, the burden to groom the future no longer rests exclusively on the shoulders of senior lawyers.

Law offices that plan to go virtual should have a healthy number of technically skilled staff, preferably paralegals that have adequate exposure to technology.  This means that these staff members should not only be knowledgeable with the law, but can also handle technological innovations necessary to take the firm forward to a virtual law firm status.  So routine clerical work is no longer the order of the day for staff members.

The virtual restructuring to establish the future of the law firm obviously has to account for management of its technical assets.  This is essential because it will include the deployment of the internal communications and structure of the law firm; an essential element in the delivery of legal services.

Essentially, the core group would be small and made up of paraprofessionals that can help the law firm to focus on its most essential strengths to achieve true effectiveness.

Transitioning to this type of virtual model can provide numerous economic advantages like:

  • Reduction in rent because of smaller office space;
  • Less travel and commuting costs; and
  • Lowered expenses for representations and meetings because majority would be done virtually.

Obviously, there are a number of feasible approaches to take to become a true virtual law firm.  One of the most critical though that should never be missed is the cloud provider that will stand behind the transition from traditional to virtual.

Contact NexStep, a management free technology company in cloud computing for law firms so ensure that you make a seamless transition to virtual law firms environment with minimal to zero problems.