The nuances and caveats of virtual legal services
The way the law is practiced today looks starkly different than it did 10 or even five years ago. A vital agent of that change is the rise of effective digital tools that allow law firms to conduct tasks that were once required to take place in person. This article will examine what exactly constitutes the virtual practice of law, the benefits it presents to attorneys and clients, and finally, the virtual services offered by SAADE LAW.
Modern technology has developed tools and software that allow legal professionals and corporate lawyers to conduct meetings, consultations, and even court and trials online, without the need for involved parties to be physically present. In most industries and fields, clients are increasingly opting for virtual services, as proven by the rise in telehealth appointments, remote or hybrid working in corporations, and of course, virtual legal practice.
The virtual practice of law refers to the use of digital platforms to conduct legal proceedings and interactions remotely through technological means. Virtual law has proven to be a viable and efficient alternative to in-person legal practices, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic when law firms were forced to take their operations remote to safeguard the health and well-being of both employees and clients. Leveraging key aspects of virtual law, including data privacy law and the ability to handle non-disclosure agreements and non-competition agreements, presents undeniable benefits, which we will explore further below.
Access to Justice
By breaking the boundaries of physical space, people all over the world can have access to top-of-the-line legal services regardless of their dwelling. Clients do not have to limit themselves to legal professionals within driving distance. This also gives law firms the opportunity to reach a wider audience and offer services in different regions where they are licensed to practice law. Through virtual conferencing tools, attorneys and clients can have meetings, review documents, and more, while ensuring compliance with data privacy laws and protecting trademarks. In summary, virtual law makes it easier for clients to access legal services regardless of their geographical location.
Flexibility and Convenience
Taking into consideration the fast pace of the world we live in, time is of the essence. By offering virtual law solutions to clients they can better optimize their time and resources by eliminating commute times. It is also convenient to receive legal counsel in the comfort of your own home while resting assured you are working with top industry professionals. Additionally, it allows attorneys to take on a larger caseload without the inconvenience of commuting to and from the courthouse. Another benefit attributed to the virtual practice of law is schedule flexibility. By taking operations remotely, attorneys do not necessarily have to abide by the conventional 9-to-5 schedule, but tailor their schedule and manage workload in a way that is optimal to their preferences and productivity. It also means attorneys can accommodate clients in different time zones.
A brick-and-mortar legal practice has inherently high overhead costs, this includes the rent or mortgage of the office space, insurance for property damage, office supplies, and cleaning services, among others. By keeping costs low, attorneys can in turn increase their profits and pass on those savings to their clients. Here, it is important to note that virtual interactions are not a replacement for in-person interactions, which is why SAADE LAW implements a hybrid approach, a topic that will be expanded upon later in this article.
Whether a law firm is a virtual, physical, or a hybrid approach, they can benefit from digital tools to maximize efficiency in the workplace. By harnessing the latest technologies law firms can streamline processes and improve overall communication between attorneys and clients to create synergies. These tools include:
- Virtual Communication: Tools that allow for video conferencing, instant messaging, and of course, email, attorneys and clients can communicate easily and quickly, without the need for often time-consuming in-person meetings. By streamlining communication, legal professionals can focus on providing clients with quality legal care.
- Case Management Software: Law practices can utilize cloud-based tools to manage cases. This allows attorneys to access documents, files, and sensitive information securely and safely, regardless of location. Additionally, it reduces the need for physical storage, which inherently fosters seamless collaboration between teams, since information is centralized and updated in real-time.
- Artificial Intelligence: AI is more sophisticated and accessible than ever, allowing law professionals to automate certain routine tasks. This includes transcriptions, note-taking, synthesizing data and building charts, and graphs, and displaying those results in a simple and comprehensive way. This not only provides an efficient use of the legal team's time but saves the billable clients a considerable amount of money.
Another important aspect to consider when speaking of virtual law is the increased interest in adopting virtual courtroom proceedings where the motion calendar hearings are conducted remotely. These remote proceedings offer comfort and convenience, as participants do not have to leave their homes or offices, however, it is not without its drawbacks. There must be a balance between virtual and in-person hearings, as it is pivotal for attorneys, especially newer generations, to have courtroom experience and the physical and mental demands that go along with it.
It is SAADE LAW’s position that a hybrid approach is most beneficial for all parties involved. SAADE LAW offers clients virtual services such as consultations and remote document management, coupled with an irreplaceable in-person interaction with our team of legal professionals.