4 Simple Yet Effective Tips for Lawyers Working from Home or Virtual Office
Let me guess something…
When you thought about the future of your business in 2019, you probably didn’t see yourself running a law firm remotely in 2020. You had a cushy office job, an intense but manageable workload, and a team of trained professionals who all had your back.
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and your whole world changed.
Suddenly, you’re stuck at home.
You’re still handling cases, collaborating with colleagues, and maybe even managing a team of employees.
But now you’re in uncharted waters…
… your staff and colleagues are not there to immediately handle small client emergencies…
… that IT person is miles away when your home printer decides to die on you…
… and it takes days for your support teams to deal with onboarding, contracts, and invoices.
When the printer foils your attempts to make the world a more just place.
You’re not alone in this.
Thousands of work-from-home lawyers and law firms are now dealing with the same issues.
The thing is…
Your old office-based way of doing things simply doesn’t work that well in this new situation. And trying to make it work at all costs just leads to a lot of confusion and frustration.
That’s why I want you to think about an upgrade — a home-based virtual office for lawyers.
In this post, I’ll walk you through what a virtual law firm is, why the concept is growing (ever) more popular, and what’s the difference between virtual law firms and work-from-home lawyers.
Let’s get into it.
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What Are Virtual Law Firms (& What Can ALL Lawyers Learn from Them)?
A virtual law firm is a legal practice that eschews the standard brick-and-mortar approach. Instead, the firm is a legal entity that exists in the cloud, and lawyers that work there do so from the comforts of their own homes.
These practices — often also called remote law firms or eLawyering — are not a new thing.
The first one — Wolley & CO. — was registered in 1996. But, in the last few years, we’ve seen a massive influx of lawyers into the online space. And, with a health pandemic raging in 2020, we’re likely to see more and more virtual law firms in the future.
Right now, however, more and more law firms are transitioning to work-from-home. And, while they’re not virtual law firms in the real sense of the term, they can still learn to operate like that in an effort to reduce cost and increase productivity.
A recent Loeb Leadership survey shows most lawyers want to keep working from home even after the pandemic blows over
Setting up your legal work as if you were a virtual law firm will not only allow you to keep on working amidst a pandemic. It will also afford you some other benefits (all quite handy now that you have to tighten the purse a bit), such as:
- increased earnings — with no overheads such as rent and utilities, you can boost your profits (or earmark extra money you’re pulling in for salary increases for support staff).
- zero (to little) commute — lawyers that are working from home: a) save more money, b) have more time to devote to client work, and c) feel less stressed out.
- ability to scale more easily — focus on growing your online presence. Without the constraints of a physical office, you can finally dial in on your website, blog, and social media channels, and start pulling in clients from all over the country (and the world).
4 Easy-To-Implement Tips On How To Be An Effective Lawyer When Working from Home
Regardless of whether you’re a solo lawyer or a partner managing a large firm, here are four things you can do to successfully transition to, and grow your virtual legal practice.
1.Set Up an Efficient & Comfortable Home Working Space
Whether you’re a solo lawyer working from home or you’re managing a whole team, you need to think about the tech and tools that will set you up for success.
What’s not a home office?
Your couch. Your favorite lounge chair. Your dinner table with kids crowding around you. (Kiddin’)
What is a home office?
A dedicated working space that allows you (and your team) to focus and to do your best work. This space doesn’t have to be an actual office.
But, it does need to be a place that’s fitted with:
- An ergonomic desk chair so that you can sit in it for hours on end, pouring through the minutiae of documents and briefs, and leafing through your favorite legal books.
- A laptop or a desktop computer with access to high-speed internet, quality headphones & microphone, and video conferencing software (& an additional monitor if possible).
- A huge “Do Not Disturb” sign. Working from home is still working — when you’re dealing with colleagues and clients, the last thing you need is constant interruptions.
2.Set Clear Goals & Targets (For Yourself AND For Your Team)
Now that you’re moving to a remote law firm set-up, what does this mean for your targets? Are things changing on a monthly, quarterly, or annual level? How will all this be tracked and measured?
Even if you’re a solo remote lawyer, you need to be asking these questions. And, if you have staff, you can bet that these will be the first questions they ask.
What you need here is clarity. We have enough uncertainty these days as it is, and you don’t want to pile on more.
Set clear targets and goals for yourself and, if you’re managing a team, clearly communicate what’s expected of them going forward.
- What does this shift to work-from-home mean for office hours?
- When will you be online and available?
- How will meetings be handled — case-by-case or on a specific weekday?
- How will work hours be logged (and how many need to be logged in a day)?
- How will you ensure client data security?
Answer all these questions, communicate everything to your team, and then trust them to do what is right.
When you’re managing a remote law practice and everyone is working mostly from home, falling into the trap of micromanagement is way too easy. Resist the urge to track everything your colleagues and employees do. Trust that you’ve made the right call when hiring people and that everyone is doing their best to serve the company and the clients.
3.Set Up an Online Client Portal & Provide 24/7 Access to Case Insights
Now is the time to step up your game.
Now that you’re transitioning to doing things differently, you can dial in on transparency by setting up a shared client portal.
Once you share this with a client, they’ll have immediate access to the information you want them to see. What’s the status of the case? What needs to be sorted in the short-term? Are there any files or documents missing (that the client can provide)? Your client can see answers to all these questions with a click of a button, which means that they’ll have peace of mind — and that your phone won’t be ringing off the hook.
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4.Collaborate & Manage Documents With a Cloud-Based Solution
Some traditional law firms have long resisted any attempts at a digital transformation.
Hopefully, this doesn’t apply to you — not if you want to grow your business in these uncertain times.
Since you’re working your lawyer magic remotely — and your collaborators are pitching in from their own homes — you need a cloud-based law practice management solution.
That’s where Clustdoc steps in.
With Clustdoc’s client management portal, you can:
- Access all your client files in one place using every device — your laptop, your desktop computer, or even your smartphone (and use our app to stay constantly connected);
- Collaborate with your team — assign tasks, set timelines, monitor progress, send messages to make sure everyone is on track with deliverables;
- Automate important workflows, set up triggers that create specific cases workflows, and keep things moving along neatly even when you’re not there to keep an eye on everything;
|With Clustdoc, all your communication is 100% safe — no need to use email to share confidential client data when everything is available (and safeguarded) in our secure client portal.|
- Take your client collaboration to a whole new level — let them track case progress, submit important documents, and even book meetings directly on the platform.
- Sleep soundly knowing that all client data is guarded by a certified SaaS solution that boasts top-notch security, and complies with global data safety regulations;
- Invoice directly from the platform — there’s no need for third-party payment solutions when Clustdoc supports all major credit cards. Fewer tools = fewer headaches.
How is that for a benefit-packed solution to a lawyer’s work-from-home problems? If you’re ready to use Clustdoc to take your client game to a new level, we promise you’ll find even more cool features that will make your life easier.
That feeling you get when you find a perfect SaaS solution for your virtual law firm.
Ready to Become an Efficient Work-From-Home Lawyer With Clustdoc?
Oh, and did we mention…
Clustdoc’s trial run is free — you get to use the best client portal for 14 days without paying a dime.
And we won’t ask you for your credit card, either. Continue only if you think we’re the right fit for your new and improved virtual law firm.
What do you say?