With more businesses moving to work-from-home settings, some are transitioning toward fully virtual service. Legal practices are no exception to this trend. So in this piece, we want to outline a few tips for law firms that are now offering (or thinking about offering) virtual legal practice.
Prioritize Your Online Presence
Your online presence is what’s going to drive both inbound and outbound business, so it’s important to spend the time and effort to set it up right.
Your website will often serve as your first impression to clients. It may sound obvious, but take the time to ensure the site is clear and easy to understand; avoid fluff and irrelevant content on the landing page, and make navigation clear and intuitive. These are important considerations for most any modern business under any circumstances. But they’re particularly vital for businesses “going virtual.”
Additionally, investing in your social media presence will help you to gain an edge over your competitors. Spend time creating high-quality content for the social platforms that your target audience uses the most. Consider creating videos or infographics covering FAQs, so as to make it easier for clients to assess basic information about your practice. And where possible, engage with a personal touch!
Ultimately, the better your content is and the more engagement it gets, the more visible your firm will become in the virtual realm. But don’t forget also to conduct all online activity with a clear purpose in mind. As educators with social media expertise have argued regarding developing social brands, it’s vital to set an objective. Once you’ve done so, it’s all about engagement within that objective.
Leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
AI is transforming the legal field in many ways, with more and more legal professionals getting in on the change. For the most part, firms use it to automate simple but time-consuming tasks, freeing up employees for day-to-day hands-on tasks like advising clients, negotiating contracts, and appearing in court. Legal firms are also using AI software to review documents at a much faster rate than humans are capable of and sort through information to pinpoint findings that are relevant to a given case or task. This software is also used for more targeted practices, such as reviewing contracts that may have questionable or ambiguous wording.
AI and ML are also becoming useful in fields of law in which criminal prosecution and sentencing come into play. In such instances, forensic psychologists are trained to collaborate with prosecutors to analyze defendants, inform sentencing, and so on. With the use of artificial intelligence, these processes can occur entirely virtually, and can be expedited as well. Various branches of law enforcement are thus applying AI and ML to the processes of evaluating alleged criminals, assessing risk, and even determining appropriate sentencing.
Consider Ethics & Privacy
It goes without saying that law firms have a lot to consider with regard to ethics and privacy. But let’s look at some specific factors to keep in mind.
Since lawyers in every field must protect their clients’ information, it is important to make sure that every channel of communication used during virtual work –– including voice and video calls –– is encrypted. Additionally, the firm’s data must be as secure as possible. IT experts can be helpful where these protections are concerned, but virtual law firms would do well to look into automated digital security options as well.
Can an attorney help a client who resides outside of their licensed jurisdiction? Can the lawyer even tell if their client is within the attorney’s jurisdiction if the client is not present at a physical office address? Virtual service increases the likelihood of crossing jurisdictional lines, so make sure you check your state’s rules and double-check for any issues, such as the state requiring a legal firm to have a physical address.
The most commonly outsourced tasks for a legal firm are receptionist tasks, paralegal or legal assistant services, notary tasks, and legal drafting. While AI can help with these jobs to a certain extent, outsourced services offer that human touch that can matter in so many different ways. Before you outsource, however, there are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What do your clients need?
- How much will these services cost?
- How do outsourced companies and individuals handle sensitive information?
Having some tasks outsourced can help your legal firm focus on core activities, but it should be done carefully, especially if the work involves handling clients’ sensitive case data or the firm’s own confidential information.
We hope that these tips will give you some ideas as to how to get your foot in the door (if you haven’t already) and help you conduct your virtual legal practice smoothly.