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March 31, 2017
Law firms were skeptical for a long time about entering the cloud. For one, lawyers are not known to adapt quickly to technology advances. They are used to the book-and-file systems of old and many are not convinced that the cloud is secure enough for client information. In the past two years, this type of thinking has been changing. Law offices are not only accepting the cloud, they are embracing it.
Virtual Law Offices
A Virtual Law Office (VLO) is an office that handles clients online. The term is not absolute and there are variants to the VLO concept. VLOs are not entirely online, although some are heading in that direction, but offices that utilize virtual portals or other cloud accessories can be considered a VLO. The role of the managed service provider is to provide a secure, encrypted login environment for their legal customers. The managed service provider has the server on their premises and provides the software for the law firm to connect with. The legal files are then stored securely, and encrypted on these servers. This setup allows attorneys and clients to access the records from anywhere they have an Internet connection. Learn more:
VLO is a Valued Service
Once everything is up and running then it just takes a login onto a secure server to have access. Clients and attorneys can send secure messages (much better than email) to each other, make or review appointments, or download and eSign documents. Essentially, the law office has a virtual secretary. In most cases, a real secretary is still needed, because there are duties a virtual assistant cannot, and some people want to have the ability to talk to a real person. Most of their questions and concerns can be directed to their online account where they can easily access it at their convenience.
The Benefits to the Firm
Depending on how far you would be willing to go with VLO, depends on the number of benefits you receive. VLO allows attorneys to invest into less retail space. Lawyers can work from home, so there is no need for offices, desks, work computer, etc. James M. Fisher II, of FisherBroyles, which is the largest VLO, stated, “We just reached the size (about 150 attorneys) that proves that the business model is viable and legitimate, and it’s here to stay. Instead of taking on high fixed costs and instead of training lawyers on the clients’ dime, we have cut out so much of the inefficiency that we’re able to pay our lawyers more, which in turn attracts top talent, and we still have enough room left over to charge our clients less.”
This affects all staffing concerns of the company. Secretaries, janitors, IT personnel, and HR (which can also work from home) can be reduced. Without an office full of attorneys, it reduces the work need of other employees.
Managed service providers take up the other costs; hardware, software and IT are all handled by the provider. Maintenance, updates, and licensing are also no longer your concern. This helps to take the stress out of the office environment and allows you to focus on your clients. Get a free assessment now!
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