Posts Tagged ‘virtual legal offices’

It is great to see so many of us as lawyers now delivering all of our services as VLOs, from a laptop, and many more evolving from hybrid versions. The technological leap of emancipating ourselves from traffic congested commutes, expensive office rents (any rent is expensive if it is not returning to you more than 100% of the investment in it), parking, and the unnecessary use if natural resources like paper, gas, electricity.

VLOs can be so much more than your legal office from home or your laptop. The very nature of technology today, and soon to come, will actually make that business model obsolete. Most of us are still thinking of VLOs in a linear fashion: we moved out from an office with paper files and standalone servers to SaaS applications in the cloud, or to a laptop, or to remote servers that run our data. It’s the same business model but with virtual computer technology. That’s why I refer to this definition of VLOs as putting wings on a car and calling it an airplane.

As VLOS we have an opportunity today for a larger definition. Think of “larger definitions” as saying “more opportunity to make more money and do more of what you like.”  Sounds better, no?

For example: a big law firm is a form of organization that pools together the talent and knowledge of hundreds of lawyers in one marketplace. Like a mall, the buyer gets to visit one place that can handle all or most of the client’s needs. Brilliant, and still fun to visit! Except that it is today a less efficient mode of organizing. First, a big firm is committed to its exclusive talent (this is decreasing) and expensive proprietary infrastructure, including expensive leases. Second, anyone that can adjust and access talent much faster and much better talent will always be more efficient and more effective. Big law firms know this. That’s partly why in 2009 the ABA passed a rule lowering the ethical hurdles to lateral hiring. In fact, big law often sees the future before the rest of our industry, but they simply can’t adjust fast enough because of size and bureaucracy.  Like a 16th galleon, they can see land ahead, but it takes a lot of sailors to hoist the sails and tack that big ship into the wind.

This is where VLOs can define and design themselves to compete. As a VLO you can move fast, but you don’t have scale, nor do you have trust with the best clients. But if you organize and build relationships of trust with other talent you can build scale and trust with clients previously not accessible to you.

There is another benefit to a VLO many are only now experiencing. You don’t have to be limited to any area of law you don’t want to do. You also don’t have to manage yourself as a business, if you don’t know how. You don’t have to do anything you’re not passionate about. This can only happen if and when VLOs build trust and then build scale with each other.

Hundreds of us are already exploring the VLO’s potential in thousands of conversations in social media. Those conversations are defining trust and building the formless platform for VLOs to increase scale.  Right now it has little direction. It’s like ants looking for a drop of honey. We know it’s here somewhere but no one knows exactly where.  So we exchange thousands of bits of info on social media trying to tract it down. In the end, even that is a limited example because there is not one drop of honey but an entire ocean of it!

The door is open. If we organize we can build a vast, high tech space ship instead of dreaming about flying in our grandfather’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.


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