If you are considering starting or transitioning to a virtual law practice you need to consider the benefits and risks associated with this alternative law firm model.
Going virtual can afford you a lot of flexibility and allows clients easier access to legal services. Having a virtual law firm can help reduce overhead expenses and allow you to scale your firm more quickly and easily. Virtual lawyering allows you to streamline processes and become more efficient through use of technology, automation, and electronic data storage. I’d even go so far as to say that a well run virtual practice actually decreases your liability risks.
With those benefits, also come risks. Even though all law firms are required to take special care to protect client privacy, virtual law firms have the unique tasks of ensuring privacy is protected beyond just a brick and mortar office. Creating good policies and procedures for use of technology in handling client files, as well as proper training will help to protect the privacy of sensitive information. Additionally, it is important to make sure that the systems, software, and other technology that you use is secure and that communications are encrypted. Make sure to do your research when selecting the technology you use in your virtual law firm. Competency is also imperative. Legal ethics rules in the majority of states require attorneys to be competent in technology. In 2012, the American Bar Association amended comment 8 to Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1 regarding duties of attorney competency with technology to read “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”