The flexibility of the virtual law office also allows for a better work-life balance because all client and case information is readily accessible from any secure area and at any time. Work hours can be changed according to needs, both professional and personal. Many are discovering that virtual firms can offer services at reduced prices, largely due to lower business costs. This in itself is an advantage because more clients are opting to save money by going to virtual lawyers.
However, despite the numerous benefits of e-lawyering, there are major risks if the virtual law office is not set up with the proper software or security. Security measures, access procedures, and communication methods are all issues that must be addressed.
First and foremost, all files and correspondence must remain secure. It is wise to use a hosted software as a service (SaaS) application in which encryption is used for all transfers of information. It is also important to note that standard email correspondence is not encrypted and therefore not recommended for use with the virtual law office. If payment for legal services
is to be accepted online, a secure payment center must be provided by the virtual law firm. A system for checking or confirming the identity of clients is yet another concern that the virtual law firm must address.
Access to files and other data must also be carefully considered when starting a virtual law office. Files, billing, invoices, accounting tools, and other important data should be securely located at the backend of the website. Clients should have secure access to their files for the purpose of checking progress on their case and providing or updating information. Secure access can be granted by creating a password for each client to access his or her own homepage.
Without face to face contact, it is essential to devise a productive method of communication between client and attorney. A fairly easy means of solving the communication issue is to use the client's homepage as a correspondence board. Notices and information can be left for the client and the client can ask questions or provide necessary information by posting it on their secure page. For lawyers who work at a traditional firm but have a virtual law office on the side, it is a good idea to have a cell phone with a second business line. This allows for a separation of work from the traditional office and that from the virtual law office.
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