Homework Assignment 1

Advantages to virtual law:

-work from anywhere with an Internet connection
-greater flexibility
-happier lawyers
-higher profits
-lower overhead, lower cost to clients
-better-served clients (access/convenience)
-alternative fee arrangements more possible: retainers, capped fees, fixed prices, value pricing, staged costing and abort fees

-work flexibility (when you want) and work from anywhere

Disadvantages/What could go wrong:

-Conflict checks get mixed up
-Clients lying about identity (false I.D.s)
-System crashes
-Server/network provider not easily identifiable
-Not understanding the terms/procedures for third-party servers if they are searched and seized

  • Less personable – no person-to-person contact. You don’t watch the body language of clients; often a way of further understanding clients’ communications. Also, you may miss working with people in person.
  • End up competing on price. It’s not always fun to compete strictly on price. This need not be the case if you work in a micro-niche legal area.
  • Fewer resources. You most likely won’t have the human, technology, and other resources a larger firm has.
  • You’re very reliant on technology – if problems arise, not good. If you systems crash, business grinds to a halt. This really isn’t a unique problem to virtual law offices because most firms these days are extremely dependent on technology – a crash affects a traditional firm as much as a VLO.
  • Restricted to certain types of law. You can’t deliver 100 percent of legal services electronically in most litigation matters.

A virtual law office isn’t for every lawyer; some will do it and love it, while others will find it restrictive, lonely, and too technology-centric.

Definitions of virtual law:

Defines a "virtual law practice" as one that offers to its clients a secure client portal, as part of the law firm's web site, where the client can log in with a user name and password, and interact with their attorney, as well as consume other online legal services. A virtual law practice is more than simply communicating with clients by email and never meeting with clients face-to-face. In order to have a "virtual law practice" by our definition, you have to have a web site and a portion of that web site has to be dedicated as a secure portal for clients. Without this distinction, many law firms can claim that they are "virtual law firms" simply because they use email extensively, as the ABA Study seems to imply, giving the impression that integration of Internet technologies as part of their legal service delivery system is much higher than it actually is.

Online services for lawyers are becoming increasingly common. For many lawyers, they are an attractive alternative to the traditional law practice management software installed and maintained on a local server within a law office.

The one thing these various platforms have in common is that the data created and managed by these services are stored offsite, in the “cloud.” The offsite data storage issue has resulted in much speculation among lawyers regarding issues of data security and attorney-client confidentiality.

A virtual law firmis a group of lawyers with diverse expertise that are banded together through technological means to provide a suite of services to its clients.