Guest post by Rose Janeson, written exclusively for CloudVO.
Rigorous work schedules, long office hours, and mandatory in-person courtroom sessions have been the law firm industry standard for the longest time. But when the pandemic hit, many were left with no choice but to adapt — not without issues, of course. 52% of lawyers reported difficulties in transitioning their teams to remote work. But for those who were able to overcome the hurdles, the move has certainly made their firms more successful and even more accessible to clients. To help you out, here’s what you need to know about switching to a virtual law firm.
Maintain a structure
As lawyers adjust to the remote work life, you must also consider building a work culture that’s sustainable for the long term. Some firms have discovered that employees work better with a more lenient operation structure. This may mean giving your employees more freedom to dictate their schedule online to prevent them from moving to another firm or going in house. According to LHH, attorneys go in-house in order to allocate more time to individual clients and to no longer be on call at all times. In an online environment, firms can encourage clients to make use of online self-scheduling instead, so that lawyers can have more flexibility with their time.
Keep communications open
Thanks to modern technology, it’s now easier for law firms to communicate remotely. Set up a dedicated communication channel that’s only used for work purposes. Platforms like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are all communication tools that are worth investing in, so that everybody can stay connected and updated on their roles, assignments, and progress. Should an in-person meeting be necessary, attorneys and their clients can always utilize a flexible office space to schedule meetings on-demand and leverage tools like Zoom Rooms Video Conferencing to accomodate a mix of people who can attend physically with those who need to connect virtually. Establishing a communication channel for your clients would also be best. Fortunately, many younger clients actually tend to thrive in a virtual landscape.
Invest in safety software
As mentioned, a virtual law firm has to have a secure client portal that is accessible from its website to facilitate communication between clients and lawyers. However, it must be fully secured and encrypted to ensure that no data breaches will occur. This is actually one of the biggest cybersecurity challenges for law firms. In fact, 2021 saw the highest total damages inflicted by a data breach. And due to the sensitivity of the data you hold, law firms were one of its biggest targets. There are many solutions to counteract this. You can make sure to encrypt sensitive data, implement password policies, use multi-factor authentication, and regularly update your site’s data security software.
Look into cloud-based management tools
Courtrooms usually process huge volumes of paper documents. Cloud-based management tools and online billing solutions have now become a key component of any remote workspace, but it’s especially beneficial for law firms. Firms are able to integrate and automate systems to cover time-consuming and tedious tasks such as file management and the organization of legal documents. Using the cloud also reduces the risk of losing files to any equipment error, damage, or data breach. It also saves firms money by eliminating the high cost of local data storage and maintenance.
Upskill and provide support
Your employees might not be at their most productive due to a lack of equipment. Employers are obligated to keep workers well-equipped, even if they’re working from their respective homes — just as they need desks, computers, mobile phones, and other tools in an actual office, you should also ensure that they have everything they need to accomplish tasks. Of course, you should also provide training and assistance to employees and clients who are struggling to adapt to the new workflow.
Even as we recover from the pandemic, hybrid setups are predicted to stay. So despite the many difficulties that come with the transition into virtual law practice, it certainly will be more beneficial to your company in the long run.
For more information on how to transition to a virtual law firm, check out the virtual office services we provide at CloudVO.