“Supply always comes on the heels of demand.”Robert Collier.
Most lawyers have traditionally worked in a conventional office environment, surrounded by colleagues in one physical location. It’s historically allowed for the levels of collaboration and group work that are necessary for legal solutions to come to fruition.
However, the increasing availability of cloud-based technology and digital connectivity in the 21st Century has started to challenge this status quo. Now, if you are a lawyer looking to either expand your own practice or make how you work more successful, you now have the ability to consider starting up a mobile law practice.
Also known as ‘virtual law firms’, fully-mobile firms allow lawyers to work on the go and meet the customer wherever they are at any given moment. They allow lawyers to upgrade the way they can provide their services and improve their bottom line. Even meeting halfway on this concept – an increased digital presence for traditional brick and mortar firms – has several benefits.
You might be wondering what one of these fully-fledged, ‘mobile law offices’ might look like. The truth is, it really can vary! For example, it could be a briefcase-type affair, where a lawyer can walk up to a client’s premises with just a briefcase in hand, fully capable of servicing their needs. Modern technology allows for a plethora of tools to be accessed all in one place – client documents, live chat with other colleagues, or legal research on-the-go.
A mobile law firm could also be a vehicle, such as an RV, that has been completely transformed into a portable office that the client can step right into and have their issues sorted out there and then. Such options are great for a lawyer that wants to move around with their support staff, stay flexible in where they can be located at any one time and ultimately deliver their services to wherever their clients need them.
What’s ‘wrong’ with the traditional setup?
The idea of an entirely mobile or virtual law firm might seem strange given the current analogous nature of brick and mortar firms that can require clients to come to you directly for face-to-face contact.
The need to depend on this setup is slowly becoming less and less necessary with current technological capabilities. The internet alone allows for incredible levels of connectivity and improved communication services that can make it easy to provide legal services as efficiently as in a more traditional setup. The technology is flexible enough to allow brick and mortar firms to either explore this digital space, or fully transform into a mobile, ‘virtual’ legal service provider.
In today’s busy world, the value of a mobile service, especially in legal matters, cannot be overestimated. There are numerous benefits to it. They start with you, the lawyer, and trickle down to your clients.
What are the benefits of creating a virtual law firm?
Starting a mobile law firm of your own has numerous benefits that didn’t exist just a few years ago. Technology can now assist with many things like communication, research, and storage of information in ways that it couldn’t before. This, in turn, helps to reduce overheads and maximise efficiency.
For example, take a scenario where you might want to offer legal services in another city or part of the country, but are limited by traditional setup costs like rent and security. Setting up a website will allow you to access that market and its clients easily whilst saving you a lot of money. It also opens up new avenues for marketing, client interaction and market research.
Modern applications and services (many of which are free) have now also made it easier to conduct business in a digital environment. For starters, you can communicate with any client via email, hold conference calls, or even chat face to face on applications like Skype and Zoom. So instead of the client traveling to you and vice versa, everything can be done over a secure internet network, saving all parties lots of valuable money and time.
When it comes to legal research, many institutions have also uploaded their information into online databases that you can easily access via the internet or access portals. The internet has also made researching clients much easier as their information and business needs can be readily found online.
In starting a mobile office or digital expansion, you would find that the habit of having to store information or records in file cabinets en-mass is no longer applicable. By the use of virtual services, you can save your information on the cloud where it is safe and easily accessible wherever you are in the world.
But, perhaps the most significant benefit of having a virtual office is that it will allow you to find new clients in ways that are fast and cost-effective. For example, using a funnel system, you can set up an automated service to get clients and use your own personal skills to convert them to loyal customers. Sites like Linked In, Facebook, and YouTube among others can also be invaluable when it comes to marketing the services of a law practice. For example, uploading an advert on YouTube outlining some of your popular services is an increasingly popular method for advertising and will likely generate greater interests, clients or parties that will look you up or hire you.
Using social media apps to generate advertising content is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to reach millions of people across the country (and indeed worldwide) to tell them about your law practice. It is also a great way to cut down on marketing costs. It beats canvassing for clients through adverts on television, or billboards that often miss the target, are expensive, and rarely get you the types of clients you were looking for. Targeted advertising through social media means you are speaking directly to those you really want to be advertising to.
All these advantages of having a virtual law firm help cut down on costs and bring your services closer to clients. Working online helps lawyers create an identifiable reputation and brand in faster and more innovative ways than solely working from a brick and mortar location. A favorable review online can travel far and wide to places you would never think of and bring you many clients that you would not reach otherwise.
Should I start a mobile law firm?
Even if you already have a brick and mortar practice, there is no harm in creating a virtual division to meet the needs of the clients that may find it hard to get to you in person. In fact, it may help you widen your scope and significantly increase your client base. As you will see here, starting a virtual firm requires a bit of work, but can promise a huge payoff in meeting the needs of busy clients all over the world. Still, the importance of firms creating, developing and maintaining a digital presence in the 21st Century cannot be overstated.
Many thanks to Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers for helping collaborate on and sponsoring of the writing, structure and insight of this article. I do hope you found this glimpse into the world of virtual law firms interesting.