For a very long time it was an expectation in our society for law firms to be in high rise buildings with magnificent fountains in the lobby so that we as the general public and potential clients could use this image to affirm their capabilities as attorneys. Not only in the U.S, but worldwide, this norm is being challenged and there are many factors that have led us to this point. If you have ever considered changing to or starting a remote law firm, here are three reasons why this year, more than ever, it can be a reality. Even if you don’t think your firm could ever work remotely, it is imperative to stay aware of trends like this, because they do affect your firm’s competitiveness for both clients and employees.
Co-Working spaces used to be dominated by companies like Regus who would likely add a charge to your bill for using a single tissue if you sneezed, because they knew there was little to no competition. Offering boring and stale offices where you would sit in silence, it’s amazing it didn’t catch on sooner! Enter new players like WeWork who in 2017 built 90 new buildings, entered 31 new cities, added 12,000 new companies as tenants, and reported an astounding growth of individual members from 80,000 in 2016 to 175,000 in 2017. Demand for these types of spaces from freelancers and businesses throughout the word continues to grow and developers seem to be racing to accommodate.
Capability to Communicate and Connect from Anywhere
With software and apps like Slack, Zoom, Google Drive, DropBox, and many more, it’s nearly impossible to claim it is difficult to stay connected. Now, setting up and getting everyone in your firm to effectively use these apps is a different story, but the fact is that the capability to communicate and connect with your clients and employees is available more so than ever before. We now live in a world of cloud-based everything and all these services are battling for your business, so the cost of doing business in the cloud has been reduced dramatically over the last few years. You can get overloaded with too many services and applications and create the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, so beware of that if you choose to update and aspects of the way you do business.
There is still and likely always going to be people with the expectation that their attorney has an office space and is part of a team working in one location, but for many in our society, that requirement is fading. It used to be a red flag if you met a potential client outside of your firm’s office, but that’s becoming more of a norm even for law firms who have physical locations.
The applications and technology you would use to communicate internally can likely also be used with your clients or potential clients as well. This can reduce or possibly even remove the need for an office in which to meet people without diminishing the quality of services provided to them. Clients and potential clients have more information available to them with online reviews and other sources of a law firm’s history, so they can decide who to hire based on that as opposed to impressions gathered from visiting your office.
The last and likely most important aspect of having a remote law firm is the availability of great people and companies who will help you service your clients. Being limited to only your local area or even regional expertise is a thing of the past and now you can access talent from across the globe. While that does sound amazing, it also requires you to be more deliberate and specific with what you and your law firm needs to avoid being overwhelmed or unfocused. You now have what seems to be endless access to attorneys, paralegals, law clerks, law students, agencies, consultants, and many more that can help you get more done for your clients.
If you need to hire an attorney with specific experience or capabilities, finding a freelancer allows you to avoid the time and monetary commitment of recruiting, hiring and training a full-time employee. You may not have the workload to keep that person busy or more importantly the consistent cash flow you need to keep paying them. Reach out to me if you would like suggestions on where to go to find people to help your law firm.
Having a remote law firm is not for everyone, but now lawyers have more opportunities to create the flexible and agile workplace that allows them to work from anywhere. It will take discipline and intentional planning, but with today’s economic and cultural trends, evolving client expectations and availability of talented people you can make a remote law firm a reality now.