A virtual law firm is a legal practice that does not have a bricks-and-mortar office, but operates from the homes or satellite offices of its lawyers, usually delivering services to clients at a distance using technological means of communication. Most have a central function responsible for the accounting and administrative side of the practice. Virtual law firms are formed and regulated in the same way as traditional law firms, but their lawyers may be self-employed consultants rather than partners or employees.
4 eLawyering and the Virtual Law Office
5 See also
The first recorded virtual law firm was “Woolley & Co” set up in 1996 in England by Andrew Woolley. The term became more clearly defined in 2004 in an article written by Joe Kashi defining exactly what it meant to be a virtual law firm. Virtual law firms are also often referred to as “cloud-based law firms”. The concept has since spread globally and is finding favour with clients seeking higher quality service, value, and mobility.
According to earlier sources, a virtual law firm has the following characteristics:
Has a stable core group of attorneys;
Operates under one legal entity, such as a partnership or a proprietorship.
Has established collaborative relationships with other, specialized law firms that possess expertise that’s occasionally needed;
Is glued together with appropriate computer and telecommunications technology such as project management software or a Virtual Law Office (VLO)
Tends to have low overhead because of the ability of some or all attorneys to work from home or a low cost remote office.
Expands and reduces personnel as needed.
The advent of technology used in virtual law firms such as project management software, Virtual Law Offices and cloud computing have made it far easier for legal practices to save and manage data across geographic locations securely and efficiently and to communicate with clients at a distance, so that proximity to the client, or of the lawyers to each other in an office, has become far less important.
The virtual law firm has also come to be associated with lower prices, as they generally operate with lower overheads than traditional law firms. Lawyers find they can bill fewer hours but still make more money via a virtual firm because of the lower overheads.
eLawyering and the Virtual Law Office