QUESTIONS ASKED DURING THE WEEK 1 PRESENTATION BY STEPHANIE KIMBRO.

Related: Q & A: Inside Stephanie Kimbro's Virtual Law Practice (published 2/16/2012)




Q: Are the Rice and McGrath law firms utilizing the Total Attorneys platform?

A: Yes, there is an great explanation of their platform **here** along with videos that walk clients through the steps.



Q: Could you describe the essential differences between the Direct Law and Total Attorneys platforms?

A: The Direct Law platform has a document automation and assembly tool called Rapidocs that may be used to streamline the intake of client data and to generate legal forms for the lawyer to review, edit and sell directly to the client. Total Attorneys is a full web-based practice management system and will be adding a document assembly component in the coming quarter.



Q: Are these her actual clients and client information?

A: No, that was a sample website with fake client information.


Q: Are these technologies available on mobile devices, particularly mobile phones or tablets?

A: Yes. These are browser-based technologies that operate on cloud computing so they may be accessed by the attorney and client on mobile devices. The issue is how well the software as a service renders in the mobile device. Most legal SaaS companies are aware of this and create an interface that looks good in different mobile platforms. Total Attorneys, for example, is coming out with an iPad app specifically designed for use by lawyer using its service. But as long as you can open up a browser and get to the secure SaaS product, it will work.



Q: Are malpractice insurance companies buying into this?

A: Malpractice insurance companies that Stephanie Kimbro has spoken with have researched the issue and determined that virtual practice should be treated no different from a traditional law practice. Most of the ethics and malpractices issues in virtual law practice are the same as they are for a traditional firm with regards to the use of cloud-based technology, confidentiality and security risks and use of mobile devices, etc. The lawyer may want to make sure their legal SaaS provider carries liability insurance for data breaches.



Q: Can a client modify the calendar? For example, if the client sees an opening on the calendar, can the client schedule a meeting?

A: In some legal SaaS products this is an option. The client cannot change the lawyer's calendar and appointments are only fixed when approved by the lawyer.



Q: Can we apply for MCLE for similar courses in the future?

A: Maybe, we will look into it. This course is not certified for CLE in any state.



Q: Are you aware of a good source of information that compares features between services such as Total Attorneys, DirectLaw, Clio, Rocket Matter, and others?

A: Here are some comparisons I found...
  1. Practice and Case Management Software: Comparison Chart
  2. Law Practice Management Software: An Overview
  3. Law Practice Management Software from Wikipedia



Q: Do you know about any intellectual property firm that is using a virtual law office?

A:Firebrand Legal practices IP law as well as other practice areas. Firebrand Legal



Q: Do you know of a VLO that has an essentially federal practice (such as IRS audit representation) that allows the firm to practice on a national basis?

A: Siskind and Susser



Q: Do you think similar services should or can be devoleped by public justice sector, I mean courts, justice or government related bodies?

A: Yes, some of this will be covered in future sessions.

A: See Law Help Interactive and www.a2jauthor.org and www.lawhelp.org for examples.



Q: Does Stephanie have any case references for the acceptability of click agreements/

A:Yes. When first introduced, the clickwrap, or “shrinkwrap,” agreement was viewed as a contract of adhesion, but this form of agreement is now accepted as a valid and enforceable contract form, as long as the terms and conditions related to the agreement are accessible at all times by the online client. See ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg, 86 F.3d 1447 (7th Cir., 1996).



Q: Any information about attorney discipline cases related to virtual law office?

A: Stephanie Kimbro is not aware of any grievances or attorney discipline cases involving the use of a virtual law office or cloud computing in law practice in general.



Q: How can new lawyers learn these techniques? Should law schools be teaching virtual law practice? Are there ways to get mentored in practice?

A: I (John Mayer) believe that law schools can teach these techniques and I am exploring ways for CALI to create resources that will assist them to do this. Many law schools do offer seminars in law practice management. You can find them by searching for "law practice management" at CALI's law school website search page here.

A: I (Stephanie Kimbro) strongly believe that law schools should be preparing their students to deliver legal services online and to responsibility use cloud computing in practice management. There is a new free ebook that has been published called Educating the Digital Lawyer that has chapters that address this question and provide examples that would be useful for academics as well as practitioners: Educating the Digital Lawyer - Has link to the epub file



Q: How do you advertise your VLO services?

A: I (Stephanie Kimbro) use a combination of methods, most of which are online. I have a traditional print ad that has always provided good ROI for my practice area, but the rest is through social media, blogging, AdWords and other online methods. Lawyers interested in virtual practice should learn about online lead generation and services that can provide online marketing for their law firm. Lawyers need to understand SEO, LPO, the value of social media and building a brand and online presence. These thing are critical to establishing an online client base. In the future, lawyers may want to collaborate more with "branded networks" such as Rocket Lawyer, MyLawyer.com, LegalZoom, etc. which market online directly to the consumer. As with any form of lawyer advertising, it is important to stay current on how your state is addresses newer forms of online advertising in their ethics opinions or rules of prof. conduct.



Q: how does she collect fees from virtual clients? Do they tend to forget to pay after?

A: I (Stephanie Kimbro) have a credit card processing system set up in my virtual law office. Clients are able to pay online. No, I personally have not had any collections issues in the past six years because I use fixed fee billing so the clients know upfront when they agree to the terms of the representation exactly how much they will owe me and I also allow for payment plan to spread that out.



Q: how hard is it to make a living?

A: It depends on the structure of virtual law firm that is being set up and how well the lawyer is branding and marketing themselves online. For a great whitepaper on the success of a virtual law firm, see the DirectLaw website here.



Q: How long did you (Stephanie Kimbro) practice before starting the virtual practice and in what form?

A: Answered in the Q&A – She practiced for 3 years before starting work on her virtual law practice.



Q: How to make sure of the seriousness of the clients using the virtual office?

A: The same way you would with a traditional law office. You listen to their requested legal services, you ask questions, do a thorough client intake process, require a retainer if you want to, etc.



Q: How well or to what extent would these virtual law concepts apply to the solo practice setting?

A: They apply the same way to a solo practitioner as they would to any size firm. Stephanie Kimbro is a solo practitioner, but there are many others practicing as solos this way.



Q: I would be in Connecticut and New York. Isn't this very expensive to setup?

A: The biggest expense is the development of the website. The actual software itself is not that expensive. Most legal SaaS vendors charge around $50/month for the service.Online advertising to drive traffic to the site may be the next biggest expense because it is necessary in order to build up a client base that is online.



Q: Is the video conferencing with clients done through Skype or directly through the website technology?

A: It is done through Skype or another separate web-conferencing tool can be used. If the conversation is recorded, that file may be uploaded to the secure virtual law office case file for the client.



Q: is this backend software proprieary, off-the-shelf, or custom?

A: It is proprietary.
The software that was shown was Total Attorneys, but there are other legal SaaS vendors with client portals. See the response above with comparisons.



Q: Stephanie are you going to gives an idea of the costs of practicing online.

A: In my book, I have a chapter that estimates the cost of starting up this form of law practice. A lot depends on the structure that the lawyer wants to set up and what he or she already has in place in terms of a brick & mortar firm or an existing brand and marketing strategy.



Q: Are there an international multijurisdictional practices?

A: Yes. Rimon Law is a firm that has a presence in Israel as well as in the States and they also have a secure client portal. There are others.



Q: I'm writing a thesis for my ALWR class and want to write about the Music Industry and it's 360 Deals and should they be regulated...can you give me some suggestions on who could regulate these type of recording deals in the United States.

A:



Q: The discussion of R 1.6 raises a critical issue. While the ""reasonable care"" standard seems reasonable, MOST lawyers do not know enough about technologies. My question is: is this a red herring? How can a lawyer compentantly evaluate if the lawyer does not even know what the technology does?

A: Under most of the state ethics opinions that are sticking with the "reasonable care" standard without mandating minimum requirements for the use of the tech, they are stating that if the lawyer does not feel that he or she understands the technology or risks, then "reasonable care" means they have a duty to consult with an IT expert or someone who can advise them on the correct setup and daily use of the technology in their practice. It depends on the circumstances based on the attorney's experience, comfort level with tech, etc. But it's their duty under 1.6 to regularly evaluate the technology they have chosen and how they are using it in terms of their compliance with this rule. It's an ongoing duty to protect confidentiality because of how frequently the tech and security may change. If they can't do this on their own, they have a duty to retain someone who can.



Q: What are some examples of online document assembly providers? Is that the same thing as document intelligence?

A: This topic will be covered in Week 2. The speaker will provide examples lists of extant software.

Here are some document assembly software/service vendors.
  1. HotDocs - www.hotdocs.com
  2. Exari - www.exari.com
  3. XpressDox
  4. Rocketmatter recently announced document assembly capabilities built into their case management system
  5. Clio recently announced document assembly capabilities in their case management system.
  6. RapidDocs - www.directlaw.com/rapidocs.asp
  7. Alan Acker's Trust & Will Drafting System



Q: is there a sample of a click wrap agreement available?

A: You can click on the Terms and Conditions link to scroll through a sample clickwrap agreement. The limited scope engagement agreement inside the virtual law office is going to be different, but may contain some of the same terms clarifying the nature of unbundling, use of the tech to deliver the services, etc.



Q: what percentage of her (Stephanie Kimbro's) services are online?

A: 100%



Q: what was the name of the magazine that gives online security information?

A: http://www.2600.com/



Q: What virtual law office software works well with WordPress based websites?

A: Any of them would work the same because within WP you would just be adding a link out to the secure platform. You can add a link easily in WP.



Q: Who created and manages the website?
A: Rowboat Media designed the website for Kimbro Legal Services. Stephanie Kimbro manages the website herself using the WP platform and calls on Rowboat Media for the items she is not able to handle.



Q: With regard to not looking behind a client's signature, some legislation regarding proceeds of crime/anti-organized crime/anti-terrorism require lawyers to be careful in ID'ing clients and recieving large sums of money that might be 'laundered"" through a trust account. Is there any guidance available to accept clients online while avoiding being a dupe of gangsters, terrorits, fraudsters?

A: Methods of authenticating the client's identity are discussed in the webinar.



Q: Within the scope of the services you are providing, how many clients do you actually meet face to face? %?

A: If by face to face, you include web conferencing, then maybe 25%. I don't meet any of them in-person unless it's through a computer screen. But I have clients across the state of NC that are three and four hours away.



Q: What about privacy issues. I hear Stephanie say it is encrypted, but my understanding is that clouds and 3rd party providers weaken the expected privacy rules.

A: I (Stephanie Kimbro) have a privacy policy you can read. You also need to understand the privacy policy of your third-party vendor which should be in their SLA or user agreement.



Q: And the program she is using for this client and matter setup is software that you can just buy?

A: Yes. The software that was shown was Total Attorneys, but there are other legal SaaS vendors with client portals. See the response above with comparisons.