The History of Virtual Offices in Law
The legal profession isn’t exactly known for technological trendsetting. As an industry that still conducts a great deal of business with old-fashioned paper, you would think that it would be ill-suited to something as seemingly cutting-edge as virtual office space. And yet, virtual offices are a well-established tradition within the legal community.
Solo practitioners have long sought alternatives to entering into leases for commercial office space that is prohibitively expensive for independent attorneys with smaller practices and few resources. It has been common for decades to see many solo practitioners share a single suite, or for an independent attorney to rent a small portion of a larger firm’s floorspace. Without such arrangements, many lawyers would simply not have been able to afford hanging out their shingle.
But it is not just solo practitioners who have capitalized on non-traditional office paradigms. Larger firms have been taking advantage of virtual office space since at least the 1970s. Known as “Fegen Suites,” these original virtual office plans offered attorneys a means of operating their practice in a prime location at a fraction of the cost by providing address, mail, and phone services without a long-term commitment. This allowed well-established firms to have a presence beyond their home office without a drastic increase in overhead.
The long tradition of virtual legal practice has culminated in the Internet Age practice of Virtual Legal Offices. Thanks to the freedom offered by modern technology, a Virtual Legal Office allows an attorney or group of attorneys to practice from a remote location, either their homes or a different office, while virtually practicing out of another location. This is made possible through the practice of unbundling commercial office services and making them available to attorneys piecemeal on an as-needed basis. This comes with a litany of advantages, paramount among which is reduced cost. In addition to the savings are less tangible, but equally important, benefits such as status, privacy, and convenience. Let’s unpack these benefits to see why a Virtual Legal Office makes sense for your practice.
Reduced Cost – The Bottom Line
Imagine owning your own law firm in a downtown, New York City skyscraper. The prestige of being in the heart of downtown, with a well-decorated reception area being the first thing your clients see before they are escorted to a commodious conference room replete with a view to die for. Now imagine what it would cost per month to rent such a space – thousands upon thousands of dollars, no doubt. But with a Virtual Legal Office, you can have that very same office for about $100 a month. This may sound ludicrous, but when you understand the basic concept behind virtual offices it actually makes perfect sense. By unbundling the services that you got with a traditional law firm setup, you are able to save a tremendous amount of money. You then get to pass those savings onto your client through lower legal fees, improving your ability to compete in the market.
Consider, for example, a busy independent defense attorney who spends most of their day in court and barely ever sets foot in the office. It would be absurd for them to spend thousands of dollars every month on office space just for it to sit empty. Instead, they can establish a Virtual Legal Office at a fraction of the cost by purchasing a package of services they do need, such as a downtown mailing address, business phone number, and a few hours of conference room time every month to meet with clients. The attorney is able to maintain all of their professional appearance and credibility while saving a fortune by only paying for the office services they actually use.
In addition to saving money on your primary location, virtual office space also makes it far less expensive to expand into new regions. Most virtual office companies have multiple locations around the country, allowing you to establish your practice in another state without the need to rent office space there. Not only does this method save you money, it also makes your clients’ lives easier by allowing you to go to them wherever they may be, rather than forcing them to travel to your single office.
Finally, because most companies offering Virtual Legal Offices include reception and administrative staff among their services, you can save a bundle on personnel costs, too. You don’t have to worry about taking upon yourself the burden of finding good people to greet your clients and answer your phones. By setting up a Virtual Legal Office, you get the same well-trained, professional employees that you would be proud to hire yourself, for a fraction of the cost.
The Image Factor
Returning for a moment to that luxurious New York City law office, consider what having that mailing address and the ability to meet with your clients there does for your firm’s image. Your exclusive office will impress your clients and intimidate opposing counsel because it establishes you as a prestigious firm that gets results. This can help to give a head start to a young solo practitioner making their debut in the profession by lending legitimacy to their practice. Compared to the suite in a suburban office park that most newly-minted lawyers would be able to afford, the elite downtown setting will inspire a great deal more confidence in your abilities.
Zealous Representation - Remotely
One of the principal benefits of being able to work any job remotely is the ability to do it from anywhere, including your very own home. This is no less true of a lawyer who practices out of a Virtual Legal Office. By utilizing the address, mail, and phone services of FirmVO you can enjoy all the benefits of having that downtown address while you do your work from your home office, or anywhere else. At the same time, whenever you do need to go into the office, it is ready and waiting for you. You can meet clients, conduct depositions, or even just get some work done if you’re too distracted at home that day. You get the best of both worlds, with the freedom to switch between them at will.
Privacy and Security
Although it may be overshadowed on many lawyers’ minds by the cost and image factors, probably one of the biggest benefits of a Virtual Legal Office is the privacy that it gives the attorney. Without the benefit of virtual address and phone services, most solo practitioners would be forced to use their private mailing address and phone number for business purposes. Using this private information to conduct public business jeopardizes both the attorney’s safety and their ability to unplug and relax at the end of a busy work day.
In addition to the attorney’s own safety and security, there is also the ethical duty to maintain the security of the client’s confidential information. It is unlikely that an independent attorney’s private computer or fax line is sufficiently secure to reliably prevent interception of sensitive material. That is why most Virtual Legal Office packages include secure document portals to serve as a safe place to store confidential materials, as well as secure fax lines. The virtual office provider ensures that your data is safe so that you don’t need to worry about it.
As you can see from the above, a virtual office is a great solution for any modern business, but is particularly attractive for the solo legal practitioner. The legal community already has a long history of utilizing shared office space arrangements and virtual office packages, and modern technological advances have only made these services even more cost-effective and advantageous for lawyers. To see if a Virtual Legal Office is the right solution for your practice, follow this link to learn more about the types of service packages and rates available: https://firmvo.com/virtual-office