Here's what some lawyers currently working with an online legal practice had to say about finding legal clients online, building client relationships, securely exchanging information and more. This section includes responses from:
- Dawn Bowie, Maryland Family Law Attorney
- Stephanie Kimbro, North Carolina Civil Law Attorney
- Andrew J. Urban, Nevada Contract and Estate Planning Attorney
- Benjamin Carpenter, J.D., Florida Law Firm Administrator
- Rachel Rodgers, Arizona Entrepreneurial Business Lawyer
- Rania Combs, Texas Wills and Trusts Attorney
"Have you been able to service clients through virtual law office that you might otherwise not have been able to serve? How and why?"
Dawn Bowie: "Yes. Clients who live in other states and have a Maryland case, or who live some distance from my jurisdiction in Maryland often contact me. I’ve been able to expand my geographic client base in this way."
Andrew J. Urban: "Yes. Clients that can’t get out (house bound) or can’t leave work during the work week to meet but have computers allows me to work with them through the website and on the weekend. Also a couple of clients that are out of state or up North with matters here in Southern Nevada appreciate the VLO as a way to communicate with me."
Stephanie Kimbro: "Yes. I have worked with clients 3 and 4 hours away from my home office location. For some of these clients it is a hardship for them to take a day or more off of work to come into a lawyer's office and/or arrange for childcare so I know the convenience is beneficial for them. I also do a significant amount of pro and 'low' bono work online for clients that I believe would otherwise be proceeding without a lawyer's guidance if the online option were not available to them because they don't quite qualify for legal aid services, but they cannot afford a full-service firm that charges by the billable hour. The virtual practice is a good alternative to increasing access to justice for individuals of lower to moderate means."
Bowie: "Because this is an Internet based service, we’ve gotten clients from all over the United States who have cases in the state of Maryland."
"How have clients and prospective clients responded to working through the VLO?"
Rachel Rodgers: "They’re ecstatic. It’s actually shocking how excited they get when they find me. Usually the first contact is on Twitter, because that’s the easiest way to follow me and then send me a message, and so that’s what they usually do and they say 'Oh my God, I just discovered your website and I’m so excited.' They love that I’m tailoring myself to a particular niche, which is Gen Y entrepreneurs, and they also love that I’m online-based because young people are very comfortable doing everything online. They don’t feel like they need to meet anyone. So for most of my clients, it’s perfect. They’re working on stuff at 3 in the morning, they’re working on stuff on the weekends and so they love that they can interact with me like that."
Combs: "Demographic-wise, when I launched the practice I really thought I would get clients more in the 25-45 age group and really not get anyone older than that just because of their comfort level with technology. But what I’ve seen is clients from all different demographic levels, and also it’s split evenly between men and women who contact me."
Benjamin Carpenter: "When I make the introduction to the VLO, almost everybody who uses it, they say "This is how I want to do my interactions—stop with the emails, stop with the phone calls. Once that introduction is actually made, they really don’t want to use anything other than the VLO format."
"What impact do you find virtual practice has had on your attorney-client relationships?"
Urban: "Positive impact. Clients appreciate having 24-hour access to their case matters, makes me more accessible to clients and potential clients."
Bowie: "The best part of this for the client is that their entire file can be on their personal homepage, so they don’t have to ask about documents that have been produced. For me, the best part is that if I’m diligent about documenting client questions and concerns, and there is a later problem with clients accusing me of not communicating or about the substance of communications, I have an automatic and complete record of what happened, what was said, and why."
Find out what attorneys are saying about starting your own online legal practice.