If you started your own legal practice, you probably did so to have more control over how you work. At FirmChecker, we analyse a range of professional services models. Here, we’ll look at some of the benefits of running a virtual firm using two well-known case-studies.
Thomson Reuters discusses How to Launch an Australian Virtual Law Firm, using Melbourne-based Nest Legal as a case study. A relatively early Australian virtual firm, Nest had few domestic precedents to follow. So, it looked further afield to American examples. Inexpensive (or free) tools such as Skype, FaceTime, Xero and Google Drive make its office paperless and flexible. Marketing is mostly done digitally, which is automatable. This allows the firm’s founder, Laura Vickers, to take more control of her work schedule.
LegalVision is a well-known and publicised virtual law firm that operates at a larger and more complex scale. While Nest Legal is a great example of how working virtually aids work-life balance, LegalVision demonstrates how virtual work can achieve scale. LegalVision is exploring machine learning to automate repetitive work and digital marketing to reach under-served, hard-to-reach areas of the market. Through its partnership with the large corporate firm Gilbert + Tobin, LegalVision is also able to source work through more traditional referral channels. Virtual work still underpins LegalVision’s business model, but it is done with the goal of achieving scale.
These virtual firm examples aren’t new. This makes them powerful case studies because they are thus far standing the test of time. Enabling technology is only getting better and more accessible, and these case studies teach us that working virtually can help you to:
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel and risk your whole business to start taking more control through virtual work. Instead, start small by considering what repetitive work you might be doing. It could be sapping your time where software can do it for you. Consider whether it’s really necessary to have meetings in person. Can video conferencing and digital file sharing suffice in most cases?
These changes aren’t ground-breaking, but they can help you save money and time. They can help your firm work for you, not the other way around.
Ben Farrow is the Managing Director of FirmChecker. He holds commerce (economics and finance) and law (JD) degrees from the University of Melbourne, digital marketing certifications from Northwestern University and dabbles in coding. Ben provides frank and actionable tips to professionals looking to work to live, not live to work.