The law profession has been slow to embrace virtual work. It’s a people-oriented business, and there is great reliance on sensitive files and court documents. Although, the pandemic pushed lawyers – and the rest of us – to embrace more digital technology.
In the United States, 70–90% of firms surveyed by the American Bar Association still used traditional offices in 2019. By early April 2020, the beginning of the pandemic, 48% were working online, and a further 40% were doing a hybrid of on-site and remote.
While many are eager to get back to the office, this past year has not only taught us the importance of being prepared, but it’s hopefully showed us how useful and beneficial technology can be.
Virtual Law: Digital Technology in the Law Firm
Digitizing documents and uploading them to case management software has many benefits.
Through this, the law firm gains:
- Collaborative access
- Streamlined process
- Improved productivity
- Storage space previously wasted on boxes of file folders
- Greater flexibility of interactions with clients familiar with digital upload of documentation
- Peace of mind data backup is available
- Centralized systems
The software also adds a layer of accountability, as firm leaders or administrators can see who is accessing what and when. This enables better measurement of productivity and billable hours.
Additionally, clients enjoy not having to leave home and find parking to drop off documents. Paperless transactions can speed the process on both sides, especially with virtual forms collecting data. This also avoids the inaccuracies that can come from manual data entry.
Another significant development for the virtual law firm is the ability to rely on cloud-based collaboration tools, such as Microsoft 365. Paralegals and lawyers can work on documents and spreadsheets simultaneously in real-time. With Outlook email and calendar sharing, everyone stays current on any device. If you’re looking for an alternative to Microsoft 365, SharePoint and OneDrive also offer secure document sharing. SharePoint is an internal file management tool, whereas OneDrive is a bit simpler.
Lawyers now need to virtually meet with clients and opposing counsel, and appear in virtual courts. Online communication requires a good internet connection, plus a quality camera and microphone to take part in a Zoom or other type of virtual meeting.
Other firms are moving to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Those who have used Skype or RingCentral are already calling via data packets transmitted online. And there are other options available: B2B VoIP vendors offer options integrating call forwarding, call queues, and more. With VoIP, the client calls a local number and connects to an employee anywhere without noticing a difference.
All these technological developments can have a positive impact on day-to-day law practice operations. Although, you can’t forget how critical security is; you don’t want confidential documents shared publicly or phone conversations carried out on insecure lines. Your IT needs accurate, secure installation, and that’s where we come in. Expertly trained in cybersecurity, a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can properly set up your firm for digital practice.
We’ll make sure your digital transformation – whether short- or long-term – is done right. Contact us today!
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