In the wake of COVID-19, our way of doing business has changed dramatically. We’ve been asked many times whether a lawyer can be as successful with a virtual law firm as they would be in person, especially in our current global circumstances.
Can You Build a Virtual Law Firm as Successfully as a Brick and Mortar?
The answer is a definite yes—and right now, it is more important than ever to have a service you can deliver virtually that people in your community want and need.Serving virtually isn’t a new concept for New Law Business Model, and a number of our member lawyers have built thriving, lucrative virtual law practices over the years. But it is especially critical now; pivoting to a virtual practice—or at least the capability to have a virtual practice when you might need it—is one of the best things you can do to keep your practice thriving, even through a recession.
Here are 6 tips from experienced virtual lawyers that will help your virtual law firm thrive:
1. Be present in your community—even if that community is online
Remember, your law degree gives you the knowledge and authority to provide people with the guidance and solutions that they truly need.
Participating in the online conversation in your community via social media, and offering free educational webinars will build the know, like, and trust factor that inspires people to want to do business with you.
By bolstering your online presence and educating your community broadly, they’ll start to see you as a trusted resource, and those who are ready to take the next step will make an appointment with you. The rest will leave more informed about their options and have you in their mind if they decide they want to work with a lawyer.
Want more details about how you can connect with your community virtually, and simultaneously open the doors to more clients who will want to work with you? Here are two actions you can take immediately.
2. Make sure your communication skills are on point
First-rate communication skills are an essential component to building trust, ensuring that you fully understand your client’s needs, and being able to establish a relationship with your clients that earns you their repeat business, and their enthusiastic referrals.
On top of that, you’ll need to be able to communicate expectations, as well as all the steps in your process from beginning to end. This goes especially for virtual signing and making online payments, which are two of the most important (and frequent) things you will get questions about. Keeping your clients in the know, and patiently showing them how to use the technology, will help them feel more comfortable and have more confidence in you.
3. Systems are critical to an efficient virtual law firm
It’s easy to fall into a black hole of scheduling, document signing, online payments, and a million other little chores that you now have to do on your computer. To avoid drowning in menial tasks, you’ll need to implement comprehensive online systems that walk you and your clients from intake forms through final document delivery.
In addition to being able to serve more clients in less time, the automation of these processes allows clients to go through the process seamlessly, instilling confidence in the services for which they are paying. If you need some ideas, download our Quick Action Guide to Taking Your Law Practice Virtual—the end of this handy guide has a chart with the programs we use here at New Law Business Model, as well as other options you might want to try.
4. Make the experience personal with video conferencing
Alongside automating many processes in your law practice, you will still want to develop a genuine personal connection with your prospects and clients and ensure they understand that they will be receiving the same great service as if you were providing it in person.
NLBM member lawyers who practice virtually are conducting their Family Wealth Planning Sessions via video, using a webcam, just as if they were meeting in person. (Bonnie Bowles, NLBM member lawyer who has been serving virtually for 5+ years says: “You must use the webcam—it’s imperative to make that personal connection!”) Our members have also found creative ways to celebrate milestones with their clients, even if they can’t meet in person, including setting up special document-signing ceremonies using video conferencing.
5. Have a solid network of collaborators and co-counsel
Working primarily online can be isolating! Be sure to have a great online group of peer lawyers available for mentoring and support. Especially right now, it’s invaluable to have a group of peers to help you navigate uncharted waters. We have a solid network of lawyers with virtual practices in the New Law Business Model community forum and our members-only Facebook group, in which our members are able to effortlessly collaborate, support, encourage, and inspire one another as they build and grow their law practices. If you want a preview of the kind of community you can find in that group, join our Lifestyle Lawyer’s Club Facebook group any time.
6. Hire someone with online marketing and tech skills
You didn’t train for years to become a digital marketer, you spent your time earning a law degree! But if you are going to be educating your community in the way we suggested in our first tip, you’ll need a process to get people to sign up, and then a way to follow up with attendees once you’re done (not to mention maintaining a steady social media presence!). Hiring someone who can support you in managing the technical aspects of marketing and providing your legal services will undoubtedly help grow your virtual law firm in a healthy way and ensure you have more time to focus on providing valuable legal services. Plus, you’ll be a job creator in a time when our economy needs it the most!
It IS possible to build a lucrative virtual law firm that works for you and your clients.
And now is the best time to do it. As businesses everywhere are quickly adapting to be able to continue operating and to best serve the needs of their community, you have a huge opportunity to make it easy for people in your community to get the support they need for their families and their businesses.
Running a virtual law firm can give you maximum flexibility while still allowing you to provide your clients with exceptional service. It will be a lot of work, but if you follow our advice, and seek out help when you need it, you can build a 6- or 7-figure law practice just as well as you could in person.
If you are ready to create the virtual law firm that will give you the flexibility to thrive in uncertain times, schedule an appointment to speak with a Law Business Advisor today. We’ve got the step-by-step support you need, no matter what stage of your practice you are in right now, and we’d love to help you discover how to get from where you are to exactly where you want to be.