A recent article in The Atlantic asks the question, "do lawyers need offices anymore?" No. No they do not. The article features several firms that have made a successful go of it as virtual practice, forgoing the wood paneling and real-estate fees for practices operated largely over the Internet.
We at FindLaw, of course, have long been proponents of the virtual office. You don't need to be a tech genius or a cutting-edge innovator to give up on commercial leases. Pretty much any attorney can operate a virtual practice these days. Here are 11 ways to get started, today.
11 Steps to a Virtual Office
Here are 11 easy ways to get started with your virtual office:
- Establish a conflict check and intake procedure for online-only clients.
- Pick web-conferencing software to communicate with staff and clients. Whether you go with Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx, or more, you'll want to make sure that your software works with a variety of platforms, from Mac computers to Android phones.
- Speaking of software, get yourself some cloud practice management software. The cloud is your home now.
- Use Google Forms for a free, electronic, collaborative way to create standardized forms for your practice.
- Find a credit card processor that actually works for lawyers.
- Even if you're solo, you don't need to be all alone. Consider getting a virtual receptionist.
- Don't be afraid to try out a virtual paralegal as well.
- If you don't want to be scanning or faxing all day, go paperless.
- Get face-to-face with clients and colleagues through simple video chat products like WebRTC.
- Hack your way to a dedicated office phone, without the landline fees, using Google Hangouts and Voice.
- Get a back-up. Use a shared office space when you need a quick, temporary conference room or meeting place. Some options are even specifically tailored for lawyers.
Step 12: Laying Down on the Job
Of course, wherever you work, you'll probably want to think about the health effects of sitting down all day. (They're bad.) Health-crazed attorneys may jump on the standing desk fad, but let us suggest a laying desk. The California startup Altwork has created a desk that's perfect for spending the day on your back. It's just the kind of workstation you'd want to keep hidden out of the sight of clients and colleagues. We'll let Arstechnica explain:
It's an integrated workstation combining seat, desk, and monitor stand, and it's all electrically controlled to support not just sitting and standing but also a supine position: you lie back with your monitor or monitors above you. The keyboard and mouse stay affixed to your desk through the magical power of magnets.
It doesn't look pretty, but it sounds fun to try.
- Introducing the 20-hour Work Week (CNN)
- Tips for Using Technology to Automate Your Firm (FindLaw's Technologist)
- 5 Tech Trends for the Law Firm of the Future (FindLaw's Technologist)
- How to See Everything You've Said to Google -- And Delete It (FindLaw's Technologist)