Pandemic disruptions have clearly expedited the need for change to the traditional office. And as technology emerges in the legal industry, there are plenty of benefits and incredible opportunities for transitioning to a virtual law office.
Legal professionals can manage a virtual complement to an existing brick-and-mortar law office, as a viable alternative and reap the benefits (silver linings of the pandemic):
- Reduced overhead.
- Improved work-life balance.
- Boosted value to clients.
- Greater access to everything.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits lawyers can obtain by adopting a more tech-forward practice and a virtual law office.
* * *
Legal firms moving to a virtual or hybrid operation will find it’s the best way to expand in our more modern, quickly evolving times. Consider what the savings would be on long-term real estate obligations alone.
With a virtual office, expenses and overhead costs will be dramatically reduced, allowing legal professionals (lawyers, paralegals, associates, and any other member of a firm) to focus more on client acquisition and relationship building. Adopting the right tech to function successfully while virtual means there’s less of a struggle to maintain operating expenses.
There are plenty of things to consider. According to the eLawyering Task Force of the ABA, a law firm with virtual capabilities must operate with a secure client portal that connects to the law firm’s website. The portal must be secure, encrypted, and password-protected to protect all parties and data.
Virtual lawyers also have a responsibility to protect client data and maintain confidentiality. Most of the communications with virtual law firms take place online, and data can be vulnerable and susceptible to breaches. All channels and data must be secure and encrypted.
* * *
Improved work-life balance.
Lawyers, now more than ever, are increasingly expected to work from a remote location or as part of a hybrid environment. As the acceptance of the cloud matures and confidence increases, users are quickly accepting the iniquitousness and affordability that technology can provide. Users are also understanding how secure communications can be and how working remotely offers a new dynamic that can positively impact work-life balance.
Midway through the first year of the pandemic, nearly 31% of workers in the United States said they had worked from home. Only a few weeks later, 62% reported working from home. Additionally, according to a recent FlexJobs survey of more than 4,000 respondents working from home in response to the coronavirus, 73% said that working from home improved their work-life balance. This allowed them to spend more time with their partner, family, or pets.
Working remotely offers more flexibility and the opportunity for lawyers to conduct business wherever there can—all they need is a Wi-Fi connection. Whether it’s a challenging experience like a pandemic or meeting the growing needs of tech-savvy clients who expect vendors to be as competent when it comes to technology, legal professionals can experience increased worker morale, improved productivity, and cost savings.
* * *
Boosted value to clients.
It’s a race to meet customer expectations, and every organization wants to win. As customer expectations evolve, and quickly as a result of rapid technology innovation, lawyers too are reinventing how they offer services.
Generations that grew up with the internet are impacting how organizations respond to change and how they work, and this group is clearly helping to accelerate the pace of digitization. This also applies to gaining access to lawyers online. Many law firms are responding and embracing technology to improve client relations.
Document management, virtual signing and video conferencing, communication, and matter management software are now all easily and quickly accessible from the cloud. And as customer expectations become more important, their nature is also changing. These customer expectations now transcend traditional industry borders, with customers expecting levels of personalization, on-demand access, and accessibility that match the leaders in customer experience across all their interactions.
Customers are beginning to judge the quality of products and services they receive not only against other companies in the same sector but also against the best customer service they have experienced in any industry.
* * *
Greater access to everything.
No longer are law firms and lawyers limited to a regional or local practice area. By digitizing, a law practice can expand its reach a municipal or state border and in which the lawyer is licensed. They can now reach new clients almost anywhere and boost client acquisition.
Eventually, it begins to boil down to convenience for clients and how they legal partners can handle matters remotely. For clients limited in certain ways, no longer have to contend with inconveniences like travel when they can communicate with a lawyer virtually. Clients also get to experience better response times, a reduction in phone congestion, more flexible hours, and improved convenience. As a result, greater efficiencies are achieved for both the client and the lawyer.
A digital, tech-savvy law firm can remove significant barriers. Working remotely and adopting new solutions to streamline and automate processes will reduce overhead, improved business processes, support work-life balance, and serve clients better than ever.
Without a doubt, now is the right time to go digital.