Homework Assignment #1


  1. Five good things about running a virtual law practice. What are the advantages over an entirely office-bound practice. What are the efficiencies gained, money made or saved, etc.
    1. Both lawyer and client scheduling is much more flexible in an online environment.
    2. A virtual practice eliminates geographic limitations in exchanging information, having meetings, and so on. For example, if I have to suddenly travel across the country for a few weeks, I don't have to cancel my virtual meetings.
    3. Though web hosting and maintenance aren't free, they're much cheaper than renting office space.
    4. Document management is easier when there's one digital copy of a document rather than several photocopies potentially getting lost in stacks of paper.
    5. On a less direct level, using new technology and methods of delivery leads a field to consider what its core activities are and how it can best meet its own and its clients' needs. Removing the paradigm of a physical office can bring inefficiencies and problems into higher relief than is possible within that paradigm. In short, change pushes the field to streamline and adapt.
  2. Five things that could go wrong running a virtual law practice. What are the mistakes you can make, problems you could encounter, issues raised, etc.
    1. If expectations of services aren't managed carefully, then both client and attorney may end up confused and off track with one another.
    2. Security is a different sort of risk in a digital environment than it is in a physical one. If handled well, digital documents can be more secure than poorly handled physical documents, but there are lot of new and changing risks in online communications which are less considered.
    3. Losing the geographic component has the downside of muddling geographic restrictions on practice. It was harder to accidentally practice law with someone in the wrong state when the state border was obvious enough.
    4. What happens if a company goes under who provided practice management software (as that demonstrated in Ms. Kimbro's talk)? What happens to the data managed in that software? The lawyer practicing online needs to consider options for backup, data extraction (and reuse elsewhere!), and disaster management in an online system.
    5. Discoverability and marketing is very different for an online business than an offline one.

Search the web and find at least three definitions for “Virtual Law Practice”, “Digital Law Practice” and/or “eLawyering”. Copy/paste the definitions into your homework wiki with a link back to the place you found.

  • "[The] idea of a "virtual law firm" is becoming a way of describing a law firm that delivers legal services in a new and innovative way [....] Our market research shows that when consumers see the term 'virtual law firm', that it means that a law firm is willing to offer legal services in a non-traditional way, usually 'unbundled legal services,' and at a fixed price."
  • "The practice that [Bill] Paul describes as 'the utilization of the Internet and e-mail networks for the delivery of legal services' has been dubbed by many as eLawyering. It is a broad term that includes Web- based companies as well as existing law firms that have supplemented their traditional practices with online services."
  • "eLawyering is doing legal work - not just marketing - over the Web. Pioneering practitioners have found dramatic new ways to communicate and collaborate with clients and other lawyers, produce documents, settle disputes, interact with courts, and manage legal knowledge. ELawyering encompasses all the ways in which lawyers can do their work using the Web and associated technologies. Think of lawyering as a 'verb' - interview, investigate, counsel, draft, advocate, analyze, negotiate, manage, .. - and there are corresponding Internet-based tools and technologies."