The decision to go out on your own and start a solo or small practice isn’t an easy one. There are many costs associated with starting a law firm, and running a business takes a special skill set that wasn’t developed in law school. Lawyers face not only debt and expenses, but a very competitive job market. By going virtual, you’ll save on one of those major expenses right off the bat: rent.
There are many factors to consider when transitioning to a virtual law practice. Here are some of the essentials:
Establish a Professional Business Address
It might sound counterintuitive, but securing a virtual office location, with mail forwarding service, is one of the most important steps. They’re available in almost every area in the U.S. and they cost just a fraction of the monthly rent and overhead associated with the real thing.
Many of these services also offer access to private day offices and conference rooms for in-person meetings, as well as lobby greeting service. Virtual offices can allow the professional relationship to exist no matter where the client is located.
Beef Up Your Law Firm Website
If you’re going to be transitioning to a mainly web-based practice, it only makes sense to put your best foot forward on the internet. Having a strong digital presence is essential for establishing professionalism and expertise. Make sure your website is SEO friendly and focused on delivering clear calls-to-action to generate new leads.
Transition To A Cloud-Based Practice Management System
Being able to manage your entire practice from a single, cloud-based platform can easily help boost revenue and reduce your administrative time and expenses. It’s also perfectly compatible with your virtual office, allowing you to access important files and record time and expenses from anywhere.
A good system will also streamline your web intake process and facilitate online communication and sharing of files with your clients. In addition, you’ll save a great deal of time on billing and invoicing.
Increase Your Networking
Now that you’re going virtual, it will be more important than ever to increase your networking efforts. For starters, try introducing yourself to other attorneys who might also happen to share your virtual office location. Consider making some new connections with local attorneys and join some new groups on LinkedIn.
For live appearances, make an effort to increase your attendance and do your homework each time. When possible, learn exactly who’ll be attending and make it a point to arrive a little early, find these individuals and introduce yourself.
Hire A Virtual Assistant
Fortunately, there is a diverse selection of companies that provide this service at an affordable rate. Consider using a virtual assistant to reduce your administrative workload and allow you to spend more time practicing law.
Virtual assistants can help with billing and invoicing, email and calendar management, answering phones, and more. Look for a reputable, established company with a track record of positive reviews. Like anything else, you may have to try more than one service to find the best fit, but ultimately, the time and effort you’ll save can more than pay for itself.
Establishing a virtual law firm can be one of the most important decisions in an attorney’s career. The benefits of reduced expenses, increased mobility and freedom, and the chance to really develop and hone your online presence can all make for a rewarding experience. The key is to approach this decision in an educated and prepared manner.