Law Firm 3.0: Thinking Beyond the Virtual and Conventional Models
Insight Michael Moradzadeh · January 05, 2015
Cloud technology allows attorneys to work anywhere they have a secure internet connection. This provides for greater flexibility, happier lawyers, higher profits, and better-served clients. However, a pure virtual law firm is not the answer. Cafes might work for some meetings, but often a brick and mortar office is necessary. Law firms need to think outside the cloud to utilize all the benefits of the 21st Century without throwing out important aspects of traditional law firms in the process.
Virtual Law Firm, eLawyering, and Cloud-Based Law are all buzz words in the cutting edge legal community. Lawyers have learned that they no longer need to be tethered to their desks. We can serve our clients better when we can work with them anywhere: whether from our offices or theirs. Indeed, elimination of needless commutes and face time allow for more efficient practices. More time becomes available for serving our clients and even enjoying time with our families. However, virtualization can definitely go too far. Attorneys need brick and mortar from time to time, and we still benefit from face to face interaction with our colleagues. That is why I advocate the Rimon model.
Rimon Law turned to the cloud in March 2008. From the beginning, we utilized video conferencing, e-rooms for real time document collaboration, and cloud-based technology allowing our attorneys to work anywhere in the world. However, we realized early on that community and informal interaction are key to a positive work environment and to innovation. A huge benefit of the traditional law firm is the ability to work with your colleagues and to learn from them. For this reason we decided to establish brick and mortar offices while also utilizing hoteling options to create a third way – a hybrid approach. These offices are placed in key strategic areas close to clusters of our attorneys and clients. They serve as bases for our attorneys to meet clients, and to collaborate and interact with one another. In some cases they are traditional full-time offices, and in other cases they are collaboration spaces we pay for by use – depending on our needs.
Through the use of videoconferencing, all of Rimon's partners meet at least twice a month to discuss deals we are working on, and brainstorm ways to better serve our clients. Hosted from our brick and mortar offices, and connected by video to our attorneys who choose to work remotely, these sessions allow us to bring expertise from across practice areas to every deal, giving our attorneys a more holistic approach to their representations. The meetings also allow our attorneys to know each other personally. Together with annual firm-wide retreats, regional gatherings throughout the year, regular meetings at our local offices, and an active internal social networking platform, the meetings support a collegial work place where attorneys know they can trust the work of their colleagues. This not only makes our attorneys happier people, but it exponentially increases collaboration within the firm.
For us, the office is another tool for collaboration and client service, rather than a liability to the firm and prison for attorneys. But we do not think abandoning offices and meeting clients at Starbucks is the answer either. Happier attorneys and better-served clients: that is what happens when you go beyond the virtual law firm.
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