Due to the coronavirus, a new found reality all over the world is remote working and this brings about a new concept of virtual law firms. However, to set up remote work for your virtual law firms is not easy.
To set up remote work for virtual law firms you need the following:
- Technology Tools
- Home Office Setup
- Remote Work Processes
How to Set Up Remote Work & Virtual Law Firms
To set up remote work for your virtual law firm, it is important that you acquire the right tools, create the right environment and put in place processes. We break down each of these steps below:
Acquiring Technology Tools
For a law firm to be virtual, it needs the right technology to achieve this. These technology tools include:
Since you are going to be working virtually, an important tool that can make or break your remote working is internet connection. Any internet connection you opt for must have enough bandwidth to accommodate increased usage due to the virtual work. We suggest getting an internet connection with a minimum bandwidth of 1.5mbps up/down. There are sites such as Speed Test which enable you to test your bandwidth.
To work virtually, a laptop is a must-have. For the virtual law firm, a suitable laptop for lawyer would be one with a great keyboard, great screen quality and encryption capabilities.
With video conferencing tools, you don’t have to worry about setting up client or employee meetings. Using video conferencing tools ensures you face-to-face video meetings with clients and work colleagues are encrypted. Popular video conferencing tools include Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
VOIP Phone Systems
What happens if you are not close to your laptop for video conferencing? How about having a phone with conferencing abilities? VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone systems enable you make calls that are routed over internet protocol networks; all that is required is an internet connection
Law Practice Management Software
A paperless society is something we have been aiming for, but, unfortunately in a law practice, this is difficult. However, now might be the time to get your company embracing digitalization in most things. As a virtual law firm, digitalization will require having a centralized location for:
- Calendars and Appointments
- Time tracking
- Invoices and Financial documents
- Case files and memos
- Other documents
Scanning and Faxing Tools
Not a lot of lawyers are aware of the existence of online faxing and scanning tools. No longer do you need the bulky fax equipment at the corner of the office to send documents to clients. With a smart app on your phone or laptop, you can scan or fax documents easily.
Collaborative Word Processing Tools
There are times you may have to jointly work on a writ or document with your other lawyers. This should not be a problem as with phone conferencing and collaborative word processing tools, you are able to log on an internet-enabled device and access the document. Another good thing is that these word processing tools have speech-to-text dictation and cloud storage.
Home Office Setup
Working from home does not mean you have to compromise on your working environment. Note that there might be situations where you need to have video conferences and as such, you don’t want to be caught with a sloppy environment.
Your home working space needs to have the right light, background and display when you turn on your camera. Apart from video conferencing, you also need a comfortable space that allows you to work optimally.
Therefore, find a way to create a place in your home that will be the designated work area. You can make it more professional by getting dividers to separate it from the rest of the house and bookcases to keep some of your important law materials
Remote Work Processes
One reason why remote work fails is the lack of structure. Even though you may be working remotely, you need to try mimicking the same processes that are in place in a physical work environment. To do this, creating policies for the virtual law firm would be a great help.
In these policies, things like hours of work, available hours, processes for booking meetings and charging expenses can be laid out. If you highlight hours of work, it means you know when your staff are meant to be working. If there is a system to book meetings, it means no one is barging on you with an unexpected call unless it is an emergency.
Benefits of a Remote Working Virtual Law Firm
Remote working virtual law firms have the following benefits:
On the part of the employer, the cost of rent for an office building as well as amenities (wifi, electricity etc.) to keep the office building running can be saved. The money saved can be used for other business development activities.
For employees, the amount spent on transportation, parking, food and wardrobe costs for the office gets saved.
In the US, an average of 30 minutes is spent on one way commuting. When summed up, that’s an hour spent getting to and from work. With remote working, this commute is eliminated and the saved time can be used to achieve more productive tasks.
Happier Work Life
There is no denying that being a lawyer has its stress points, but being able to work from home in a space you call your own eases that pressure. Working from home has been proven to lower stress and also improve personal relationships. Employer and employee relationships can be more positive as the distraction of in-office politics is taken out.
How Can I Develop a Remote Work Culture In My Law Firm?
Building a remote work culture in your law firm requires:
- Communicating your core values, vision and mission
- Creating a best practice scenario for most work activities
- Establishing rituals
- Building a virtual camaraderie with your workers
Remote working is no longer a new phenomenon, but the new reality. The number of virtual law firms due to the increased demand in remote working is bound to increase. To ensure your company and employees are better prepared for it, having the right technology tools, home working space and internal processes plays a huge part.
Do you think we should do a round up of some of the best technology tools for virtual working? Feel free to leave a comment below.