Nov. 21, 2012 – A solo practitioner typically is considered a breed apart – a legal rebel going it alone to the battlefields for his or her client. While the solo practitioner today may still want to be fiercely independent – there are new collaborative tools at hand that allow the solo practitioner to bring people together into virtual teams and practice in ways never before possible as a solo.
In this video, David J. Bilinsky, practice management consultant and counsel for the Law Society of British Columbia, discusses the benefits of the virtual law office, which include building a very strong and loyal virtual team, reaching out to clients , entering new markets, and serving the public interest.
According to Bilinsky, “There are many benefits of a virtual law office, not the least of which is the ability to reach out to new staff who wouldn’t be able to come in to an office from 9 to 5. They can work from home in their comfort zone on a timetable that’s good for them, and the benefit to you is that you have a loyal staff – a virtual team. You also can find new clients in new markets with web-based tools that allow you to collaborate, deliver documents, interview people, and manage your practice.
“Lawyers are already using these virtual tools,” says Bilinsky. “You may be using Google or cloud-based platforms. Fortunately, there are other platforms such as Clio, Total Attorneys, and DirectLaw that allow you to use technologies that other people have built. They build the infrastructure, and you contract with them and use their tools to connect with clients. In some cases, templates, client portals, secure collaboration platforms, calendaring, bill payment systems, and trust accounts are readily available.
Clients are becoming much more accustomed to conducting their business online – products and services, eBay, PayPal. Bilinsky believes it will be necessary for lawyers, moving forward, to be able to incorporate these kinds of technologies into their practice to deliver products and services in a way that meets the clients’ needs.
“There has been a huge cry for access to justice, particularly for the middle class, and I think these new collaborative tools allow lawyers to deliver cost-sensitive products that have a great value to clients in a way that increases their access to legal service and thus access to justice,” says Bilinsky.
Clio Is a State Bar Benefit
The State Bar of Wisconsin announced its newest member benefit last month. Clio is a comprehensive cloud-based practice management, time and billing, and client collaboration platform specifically designed for small- and mid-sized law firms. Clio eliminates the need for costly servers, maintenance contracts, and constant upgrades to new versions. It can be accessed through PCs, Macs, and mobile devices, providing access to data securely though an encrypted web browser.
Bilinsky presented, Solo But Not Alone: How to Assemble Your Virtual Team, at the 2012 Wisconsin Solo & Small Firm Conference in October. Select sessions from the WSSFC will be available as webcasts later this year. All conference attendees can attend for free.