There’s a lot of debate in legal circles regarding virtual law firms. What are virtual law firms? Are they a fad? Is it a real law firm at all?

Virtual law firms are REAL law firms.

These firms are operated by real attorneys, offering real legal services, utilizing technology to better accommodate the demands of legal consumers (& make our lawyer lives easier).Technology is evolving and is here to stay. Virtual lawyering is just one disruptive delivery model that can help the legal profession adapt to these changes.

The difference is delivery of services.

An entirely virtual law firm is a web based law firm model for the delivery of legal services. It provides easier access to legal consumers and the flexibility to meet evolving consumer demand. A traditional firm can also choose add a virtual component, in which case they would offer some services virtually and other services in a more traditional manner.

A truly virtual practice or legal offering provides services entirely online. Interactions with clients are virtual, such as email, a messaging app, or utilizing a client portal. A virtual law practice utilizes technology in order to decrease or eliminate paper files and documents. A key component of a virtual practice is a client portal. Interacting through a secure client portal can allow clients the ability to view and share documents, make payments, and communicate directly with his or her attorney. Being virtual provides more convenience to the client in their interactions with the attorney and staff. The client can schedule meetings with his or her attorney and conduct that meeting from the convenience of his or her home or office without the hassle of taking extra time off of work to trek across town to a law office.

A virtual law firm is NOT…

A virtual law practice is not e-lawyering. Simply using technology in your firm or e-mailing does not create a virtual law firm. It is also not a legal form company that just provides documents to legal consumers. While having a website is essential, merely having a web presence does not create a virtual law firm. A virtual law firm is not just another cloud or software service that assists with your law firm management. Having remote employees or satellite offices does not necessarily constitute virtual lawyering.

If you are thinking about going virtual then start reading articles and listening to podcasts from lawyers in legal tech, attend legal tech conferences and continuing education courses, and follow other legal innovators on social media platforms so that you can stay up to date on legal technology and the rules impacting your practice. Also, reach out to other attorneys who are providing services virtually to determine what virtual law firm model, services, and tools best fit you and your practice goals.