For a solo practitioner or a small law firm, setting up a virtual office at the office can make legal services run more effectively and efficiently.
A virtual office allows for lawyers to reduce their management and also their marketing efforts. This can help free up time to focus on client cases and other aspects of growing the firm.
If you’re thinking about setting up a virtual office, here are 5 steps to help you get started.
Step 1: Understand your needs
A virtual office can exist anywhere with the common belief that telephone operators from developing are taking calls and working the front desk.
In the legal world, having inexperienced and unprofessional telecommunication companies handle the intaking and scheduling of your prospective client’s can be both bad for your reputation and your business.
There are telecommunication services available that are dedicated to lawyers. They have trained staff that may even be specialized in your area of practice, such as criminal defense or family law.
Alternatives to using a telecommunication service are to add Live Chat to your law firm’s website. In this list of the best Live Chat services for lawyers, you can quickly and easily add a professional button to your website and interact any visitor.
Overall, there are various types of virtual office solutions. Here’s an overview of a few services virtual office service available to lawyers:
- Customer Relation Management (CRMs)
- Live Chat
- Accounting Software
- Virtual Receptionist
Virtual offices allow you to automate and improve the efficiency of your daily routines at your firm. In addition, with technology trending toward mobile interactions, you can expect to find various solutions you can manage with your smartphone.
Step 2: Consider the Pros and Cons
Establishing your law firm into a virtual office comes with both benefits and disadvantages. If you’re sure this is the right decision for your firm, there must be substantial reasoning and benefits to do so. Here are some of the benefits a virtual office can include:
- Reduce costs
- Increased productivity
- Effective client intaking
- Flexible employment
- Operate your intaking 24/7/365
The disadvantages to a virtual office may be difficult to imagine. However, when considering the sensitive information that passes through a law firm, you may want to think twice before outsourcing work to those outside the office. Here are a few disadvantages to establishing a virtual office:
- Reduce moral in current employees
- Lack of support
- Privacy liability
- Bad for reputation (i.e. outsourcing calls)
- Security risks
Using technology and outsourced solutions will always alleviate the workload at the office. However short-term benefits may have long-term consequences. Carefully evaluate which services are right for your legal practice.
Step 3: Measure costs
Cost reduction and savings are two major factors that influence the decision to establish a virtual office. Accounting software can provide invoices with the click of a button while tracking cash flow to make taxes easier. Virtual receptionists can handle inquiries at the office and schedule appointments for serious inquiries.
When selecting the services for your law firm, it’s best to shop around. The pricing and features offered with each will vary. There is a competitive market to provide solutions specifically for lawyers and each service will provide similar yet varying options.
If possible, you can start with a trial of their services which is usually free and does not require a credit card.
Step 4: Stick to your budget
When you sign up for virtual services you’ll be locked into a monthly or yearly billing cycle. You’ll have to determine your monthly costs accordingly and select the services that you feel will help your law firm yield the best returns.
There are services that stick to a monthly pricing plan and others that invoice you per client or lead they acquire. If you’re paying per lead, be sure that you are successfully converting those prospective leads into new clients. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your money.
Step 5: Analyze effectiveness
Even though you have spent a significant amount of time and money investing in potential virtual office solutions, it is best practice to analyze their effectiveness on a quarterly or yearly basis.
If you’re using a virtual receptionist, measure how many new clients they help you acquire per month. Determine whether their services are providing you an improvement to your legal services or simply using up your budget.
Here are a few points to analyze with your law firm’s virtual office services:
- How many clients does it yield
- How much time is being saved
- How are much are costs being reduced
- How many issues have occurred
- How often is tech support needed
The ease of installation for more virtual office services may reduce the hassle of finding a talented staff to hire at your firm, taking the time to develop in-house employees can sometimes be worth the effort.
In-house staff can reduce headaches of spending hours on a phone with support teams that may or may not be able to resolve your problems right away. Also, training staff can establish to long-term employees which understand the process of how your law firm functions and can lead to better performance than outsourced solutions.
These 5 steps are just a guideline if you’re thinking about turning your law firm into a virtual office. For solo-practitioners, reducing the number of administrative tasks may be the best option to improve efficiency and effectiveness of your legal services. If you’re looking for the best virtual solutions, check out these law firm management software.