Whether you are a solo virtual lawyer or operating in a small firm with attorneys in different locations, this guide can help you design a virtual office setup that works.
Are you ready to join the ranks of virtual law office practitioners? While you may know the benefits of a virtual law office, do you know which tools and resources you will need to run a successful firm?
Today there is an overabundance of tools, virtual office software, and flexible office arrangements available to lawyers. The key to succeeding in a virtual law office involves finding the right tools and gaining a firm understanding of how they work for and assist you.
Follow along and learn which tools your virtual law office will need to have at its disposal in order to be successful.
Virtual Office Software
Virtual office software can be used by a variety of different service industries. While these programs are not limited to attorneys, they will still help you run your firm efficiently.
- Online Communication Tools – There are many ways to communicate with colleagues, clients, office staff and vendors. You can also host online meetings, presentations, and conferences. Try Skype, GoToMeeting, GoToMyPC and VoiP phone services.
- Document Signing Services – Because you are handling much of your work in a virtual environment, electronic signatures are a necessity. Providers like DocuSign, AdobeSign, CudaSign and RightSignature can handle this.
- Cloud Data Storage – Naturally, you will need to store and manage all of your legal documents in safe and secure servers. Some popular options include Dropbox, Box.net, and Microsoft 365’s OneDrive.
- Online Presence – In today’s global community, you need to be online. This requires a website and a social media profile, such as LinkedIn or Facebook, at the very least. Tools such as Hootsuite can help you manage all your social platforms from one location.
Practice Management Software
Your firm has unique requirements that are not easily met by generic software. Your practice management software should address the precise business management areas specific to lawyers.
Some of these practice management tools include:
- Trust (IOLTA) Accounting and Business Accounting – Your accounting software should cover three different areas: client funds, matter cost and back office.
- Legal Time and Billing – Your billing management software is most useful when it’s tailored to handle legal billing situations, such as managing and tracking hours, while keeping your operating and trust accounts separate and accurate.
- Calendaring – Software that links events, meetings, court appearances and other client tasks is invaluable. Also, being able to provide clear tracking and paper trails can help to head off any issues or client disputes.
Using software that fits the specific needs of solo or small virtual law offices will help your firm manage accounting, billing, and client matters more effectively.
Virtual Office Solutions
Virtual office space is the solution that ties everything together. Depending upon your firm, you may require shared office space, collaboration, or simply wish to rent conference room space for meetings, depositions, and other face-to-face law firm necessities.
A virtual law office acts as your firm’s physical “brick and mortar” location. You can benefit from the use of an upscale commercial address, mail and package receiving, a live receptionist to answer and route phone calls, remote call forwarding, and much more.
While many of the software programs you use in your firm will help with practice management, the right virtual office can help your firm grow. Providing you with a lower overhead, opportunities to build a larger network of attorneys, and a professional office space for meeting with clients.
By using these tools, you can soon be up and running with a cost-effective, professionally outfitted virtual law office. Bear in mind that these tools are essential. Some virtual lawyers may find that they want or require additional software and support services to better suit their needs.
As you grow, you may find this to be the case for your firm. But when first starting, this essential toolkit contains everything you need to hang your shingle, and practice law through the convenience of a virtual environment.