If you’re considering going virtual, you’re probably wondering what it’s like to run a law firm without having an actual physical office. It can sound daunting at first, but there are lots of benefits to being a virtual lawyer. You can set your own schedule and work from anywhere in the world, which means no commute and more time with family. Plus, if you want to travel or take some time off for vacation or illness (because who doesn’t get sick?), it becomes much easier because there’s no need for anyone to cover for you. However, if this is something that interests you—as it does many other lawyers—then keep reading! We’ll help guide you through each step of starting up a successful virtual law firm so that when the day comes that our phones ring off the hook with potential clients, you’ll have the resources to deal with it!
What is a Virtual Law Firm, Exactly?
Virtual law firms are an emerging trend that allows lawyers to work anywhere and anytime, improving their work-life balance by avoiding the costs of office space, furniture, and utilities. Virtual law practices can also improve efficiency in many ways. For example, you might need to spend less time on paperwork if your firm doesn’t have an office manager or administrative assistant handling those tasks. As a result, you’ll have more time to focus on your clients and their cases. This can also allow you to work fewer hours, which can improve your quality of life.
A virtual law firm is a law firm that utilizes technology to allow lawyers to work remotely. This means they can live anywhere, even if their clients are in another country or state.
Virtual law firms are also a great option for lawyers who want to work part-time, as many of them offer flexible hours and work from home. A virtual law firm can help you expand your client base, because it allows you to serve clients anywhere in the world.
Advantages of a Virtual Law Office
The main advantage of a virtual law firm is its flexibility: you can choose from many different types of contracts and billing methods, including flat fees (based on time only), percentage of outcome (where you get paid more when your client wins), or hourly rates with unlimited billable hours. With a virtual law practice, you can:
- Get more done. Being able to work from home or another location with little interference allows for long hours and uninterrupted focus. This will result in completing tasks much faster than if you were working in an office setting.
- Save money on overhead costs such as rent and utilities, which can be substantial if you are leasing space as part of a traditional law firm model. Additionally, there are no commuting costs associated with your commute; just set up your laptop where it’s most convenient for you (your kitchen table?) and get to work!
- Improve work-life balance by having more time available for family members or personal interests outside of the office. You’ll be able to spend more time with loved ones because they won’t have to take off early for meetings or social events since those things can easily be accommodated virtually via webinars/Skype calls etc…
Reduce stress by eliminating the daily commute and other challenges of working in an office setting. Working from home allows you to avoid traffic jams, getting stuck in an elevator (or worse, having it break down), dealing with your boss’ mood swings, etc…
When to Go Virtual?
There are many reasons why you might want to work with a virtual law firm. One of the most common is when you have a family, and you want to spend more time with them. You can also choose this option if you want to start your own business or travel while still working as a lawyer. A virtual law office allows lawyers to work from anywhere in the world, at any time of day that suits their schedule best!
11 Steps to Starting Your Virtual Law Firm in 2023
You’re ready to become a virtual lawyer. You have experience, inspiration, and enthusiasm for your new profession. But before you can start your practice, there are some things you need to do first. In this post, we’ll walk through the steps that will help get your virtual law firm up and running so that it’s ready for clients by day one (or even sooner).
Step 1: Determine your business model
- Determine your business model.
Do you want to practice law as a solo practitioner, or are you interested in joining a virtual law firm? Do you want to be an employee at a virtual firm, or start one of your own? Once you’ve answered these questions and determined the type of work environment that best suits your personality and goals, it will be easier for you to move forward with creating an effective marketing plan.
Step 2: Decide what type of law you want to practice virtually
The next step is to decide what type of law you want to practice from home.
While there are several options, the most common types are:
- Real estate law
- Family law
- Business law (corporate and intellectual property)
Step 3: Determine the financials for your law firm
Now that you have a better idea of what services you will offer, it’s time to determine the financials for your law firm.
- Determine the cost of running your business. This includes costs like marketing and advertising, office supplies and furniture, software licenses and subscriptions (especially if they are required), legal research databases, etc. You can also estimate how much time you’ll spend on each task and then multiply that by an hourly rate that reflects industry standards for such tasks (you can look at other attorneys’ billing rates online). The more specific this number is—and the more accurate—the better!
- Determine how much money you’re going to charge per hour or project/matter. This can be done on a case-by-case basis, but there are also some average hourly rates for various types of legal work (note: these are just averages; actual numbers will vary depending on where in the country you practice and the year):
Personal injury: $200-$400 per hour
Bankruptcy: $300-$500 per hour
Commercial litigation: $200-$350 per hour
Criminal defense: $150-$250 per hour
- After calculating these two numbers together into one total figure (costs + fees = revenue), determine how many hours per month it takes to cover those expenses plus your salary requirement. This gives us an “average” number which represents our monthly overhead costs.
Step 4: Select a location and jurisdiction for your firm
You can choose a state or country, each with its own unique benefits.
- If you’re looking for a favorable tax structure, consider Wyoming and Nevada (but see this blog post for some potential drawbacks).
- For a favorable regulatory climate, consider Delaware or Arizona. You’ll also want to look into your home state’s laws on LLC formation; if your state has strict rules about what you need to do when forming an LLC, it may be difficult for you to comply with them if you live elsewhere.
- For a favorable legal climate, consider New York City or Chicago (though both cities have expensive housing costs). While some lawyers dislike these places because of their high cost of living and lack of outdoor activities, clients generally prefer them due to their large populations and cultural amenities—and because having offices there helps set up shop as an “established” firm even faster than in other locations.
Of course, there are countless other factors that go into choosing where to set up shop—such as transportation options (do any nearby airports offer nonstop flights?), proximity to friends/family/other contacts who can help get your business off the ground early on (and provide moral support), etc.—so take all of these things into consideration before deciding where exactly you want your firm’s headquarters located!
Step 5: Select a name for your virtual law firm
You’re getting closer to finally launching your virtual law firm! The first step is to choose a name for your business. This can be the most difficult part of starting any new venture, but with some careful consideration and planning, you can make sure that you choose a memorable name that will resonate with customers. You want something unique so that it stands out in people’s minds, but also easy enough for them to remember and spell correctly. You might have heard the advice “don’t use abbreviations or acronyms because they are harder to pronounce.” This is true—but it doesn’t mean you should avoid using them altogether! A well-chosen abbreviation or acronym paired with an easier-to-pronounce word makes a great combination when naming your virtual law firm.
An example would be “LawyerFinder” (instead of “VirtualLawyerFinder”). Another one might be “LegalMentors,” which combines two words into one without losing its meaning; this makes it memorable while still making sense when spoken aloud.
Step 6: Set up a business banking account
The next step is to open a business banking account. You should have three accounts: a business checking account, a savings account, and a business credit card.
Most of your clients will pay you by check or by credit card. Make sure that you have enough money in the bank at all times so that you do not get caught short if any such payments are made to you from clients.
It is also important to set up overdraft protection with your bank so that they cover checks written on your checking account even when there isn’t enough money in it (this may cost extra). If someone writes you an $8,000 check without enough funds in their account, then this overdraft protection will pay it—but only up to $50 or so depending on how much coverage was purchased (so be conservative here).
Step 7: Obtain any necessary licenses and permits
Once you’ve registered your business, it’s time to obtain any necessary licenses and permits. There are many different types of licenses and permits for attorneys, but the requirements vary depending on where you live. For example, if you live in California, the State Bar of California provides information about becoming a lawyer and getting licensed in California.
You will also need to get an EIN (Employer ID Number) from the IRS by submitting Form SS-4 within one month of starting your law practice.
Step 8: Open an office, if necessary
Now it’s time to open an office, if you haven’t already. Whether you need a physical office depends on your specific situation. The following is a list of questions to ask yourself before deciding:
- How many employees will be working in the office?
- Will clients be coming into the office or will they only communicate with you through email and phone?
- Do I want my clients to meet me at my home, so they understand where I live?
If the answer to all three questions is no, then you probably don’t need an office. But if one or more of these apply to your business, then read on!
Step 9: Set up online payment processing
You will need to set up your merchant account, bank account, and credit card reader. You’ll also need a website and payment gateway (where you’ll process payments). The first thing you should do is get a business license if you haven’t already done so. Then, open an online merchant account with one of the major processors like Authorize.net or PayPal Commerce Network that allows you to accept payment with a credit card using their gateway technology. It’s important to choose a processor that has been around for a while; this way, there’s less risk of them going out of business on you or shutting down overnight leaving no warning whatsoever!
Once again: no surprises!
Step 10: Buy malpractice insurance (if it’s required), general liability insurance, and other business insurance products.
Business insurance—malpractice, general liability, workers’ compensation and other products—can protect you in ways that you may not be aware of. The most common reason for this is errors and omissions (E&O) insurance coverage. This type of insurance is designed to reimburse clients who have suffered damages as a result of your negligence.
If required by your state bar association, malpractice liability coverage will protect you against lawsuits filed by third parties claiming they were harmed by the professional services rendered by a member or former member of your firm. In most cases, general liability covers claims made against lawyers due to bodily injury or property damage caused by an employee while on duty at the law office; however, it also provides protection from personal injury suits brought against members because they had contact with another party outside their workplace such as at social gatherings where alcohol was served. Check with your state bar association for more information about what types of business insurance are required in order to maintain your license(s).
Step 11 (if applicable): Join a state bar association and applicable local bar associations
If you’re planning to practice in a state that has a state bar association, it can be extremely helpful to join. You will gain access to resources and information that are not available elsewhere.
To join your state bar association, fill out an application and pay dues. Some states require that you have been admitted as an attorney for at least three years before you can apply for membership in their respective associations.
Joining local bar associations is another way to connect with other lawyers who may refer clients or business opportunities your way—and vice versa! Locally organized groups often host events where members can mingle socially as well as professionally, which is a great way of getting yourself out there (and meeting potential referrals).
What does “The State Bar Association” do? The State Bar Association provides excellent resources for practicing attorneys including continuing legal education courses; networking opportunities; mentorship programs; professional development programs; insurance discounts; pro bono service opportunities etc.
Tips and Tricks for Starting Your Own Virtual Law Firm
If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own virtual law firm, congratulations! It’s time to get started. But before you open up the doors to your new business, make sure you’re ready for what lies ahead. The reality of running a virtual law firm is quite different than the romantic notions many lawyers harbor about going solo—and it can be even more challenging if you’re planning on going it alone without any help or established connections. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that will increase your chances for success:
Find Your Niche
“What is a niche?” you may be asking. A niche is simply a market segment, or group of clients with similar needs and problems. The key to finding your own personal niche is to choose one that you can serve better than other lawyers—in other words, to find a gap in the market.
If you think about it, there are many niches out there for virtual lawyers:
- People who can’t afford an attorney but need one. These people will likely find themselves retaining an attorney through contingency fee arrangements (you get paid if you win), which can often mean working on a percentage of the award amount instead of receiving hourly fees for services rendered (like when an attorney represents an insurance company). Finding clients within this niche involves building relationships with social workers who work directly with individuals and families who have been denied funds from their local government due to lack of documentation or other reasons not related to their case itself.”
If you’re just starting out, it can be difficult to find clients. One of the best ways to get started is by finding a niche that requires your services but doesn’t have too much competition. For example, if you have experience as an immigration attorney, maybe look into doing international adoptions instead of going after work in other areas like family law or criminal defense.
Create a Business Plan
A business plan is a blueprint for your company. It’s the culmination of all your research, planning and hard work. If you’re going to be successful, it’s essential that you have one in place before starting your practice. A good business plan will help you:
- Shape your vision for the future of the firm (what kind of clients do you want? How big do you want to grow?)
- Explain how exactly the firm will make money (how much will each client cost? How many hours do they require?)
- Define its mission statement and values (do they align with yours?)
To put things simply, sit down and write out a business plan before launching into full-fledged entrepreneurship mode and buying everything on Amazon (which isn’t recommended for legal professionals anyway!) — and then follow through with it! You might even want to consider hiring someone who specializes in creating business plans if this seems like something beyond your expertise level—it could save time in the long run! The point here is not necessarily how perfect or lengthy this first draft ends up being; rather, it’s just about getting all of those ideas recorded so they don’t get lost along the way while figuring things out as they come up later down the road when implementing them into reality.”
Choose Your Legal Practice Management Software
Before you can start your online legal practice, you need legal practice management software. This software helps track every aspect of your business, from billing to client communication. There are many options for legal practice management software and the price range varies greatly depending on what features are included in the package. To choose the right system for your needs, consider how much time and money you want to spend on implementing a new system into your business model.
Some of the most popular options include:
You can also read our curated list of the top practice management software here .
Learn the Local Rules
When you start your own virtual law firm, it’s important to get familiar with the local rules. The American Bar Association (ABA) and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (FLSC) set these standards, but they vary from state to state and province to province. You can find out what each requires by looking at their websites or calling them directly.
Don’t Neglect Marketing
Marketing is a key component to any business. You must be able to market and promote your business if you want to be successful.
It’s not enough to just start a website, put up some ads, and hope that people will come in droves. Marketing is more than just advertising or social media marketing or blogging or SEO or content marketing or email marketing. To be successful at marketing your law firm, it’s important that you have a plan in place and you work on executing that plan every day until it becomes second nature for you as a virtual law firm owner (VLP).
A Few Other Things to Do When Going Virtual
The benefits of being a virtual lawyer are numerous, but so are the downsides. If you’re thinking about going virtual, make sure you understand both so that your business can be successful.
The biggest benefit is that it allows you to work from home and set your own schedule. You can also hire employees or subcontractors at any time without having to worry about office space or supplies.
The biggest disadvantage is that there’s no physical location for clients or potential clients to visit in person (unless they come over). This means marketing will take much more effort than it would if you had an office with a sign out front and people coming through regularly!
Take Care of the Legalities
Now that you’ve made the decision to start your own virtual law firm, it’s time to take care of the legalities. You need to make sure that you are in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and with ethical rules.
There are two main things you need to check:
- Local laws – This means checking your local laws on practicing law without a license, working as an independent contractor (and whether or not this applies if you’re working as a lawyer), any restrictions on advertising or solicitation (you can’t advertise yourself as being able to offer certain services unless they are part of your practice), and so on. You can usually find this information by visiting your county government website or checking with someone at the courthouse there.
- State laws – Every state has its own rules about practicing law without a license within its borders; these rules may vary between counties within the same state. Again, this information will be available online from either your state supreme court or bar association; sometimes it may require an appointment in person if there’s some confusion about whether something is allowed in practice but not allowed by statute—for example, using social media for marketing purposes might be OK but illegal under certain circumstances depending on where exactly you’re located.
Choose your ideal client
- Choose your ideal client.
- Determine which clients will make the most sense for you. It’s important to find a niche that fits with your personality and experience, as well as one that has enough potential for growth and profit. Once you’ve chosen a niche, start thinking about how it could develop into a full-fledged practice area (like family law or immigration). You can also analyze the different types of clients who might need legal services in this area with an eye toward what kinds of people are most likely to need help from someone like you: single parents? People who have recently immigrated? Families going through a divorce? Are there any commonalities among these groups that would make them likely candidates for hiring a virtual lawyer? If so, focus on attracting those specific types of clients first—and then work on expanding your scope after that initial group is taken care of.
Establishing Your Virtual Office
- Establishing your virtual office. The first thing you’ll need to do is find a virtual office space where you can meet with clients in person, and have a place to house all of your equipment (such as phones and fax machines). If possible, it’s also helpful if this location is central for most of your clients so that they don’t have to travel too far to meet with you.
- Virtual receptionist/administrative assistant. To make sure that people are able to reach you at all times, it’s important that someone (or something) answers the phone when clients call. When searching for this service, look for one with 24/7 availability who can answer questions about your law firm and schedule appointments on behalf of the firm’s attorneys.
- Website development & marketing materials. A professional website design is an essential part of establishing credibility as an attorney online—and there are many affordable options out there today! Once again though: be wary of paying too much upfront if possible because these fees may come down over time depending on what kind of deal they offer (i’d recommend checking back every 6 months or so just in case).
You should also pay attention when creating marketing materials such as brochures or business cards; make sure they include information about everything discussed above so potential clients know exactly what services will be offered by their local lawyer!
Market It Like a Pro
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business, and it doesn’t just happen one time. You need to be marketing every day, not just when you first start out.
Marketing is an ongoing process for your law firm that takes time and effort to make happen. You could hire a professional marketing agency to do this for you, but if you have the right team (and are willing to put in the work), then you can do it yourself.
It’s important that everyone on your team understands how important marketing is, because they won’t want their hard work to go unnoticed by potential clients or customers who might need legal help with their issues in the future.
Don’t Forget to Start Small and Build on It
You’re not being asked to design the next Apple. Don’t be afraid to start small and build from there. The key thing is to get started and build your own brand, rather than hoping someone will find you and help get you going. The more momentum you can build, the easier things will become later on when it comes time for expansion or growth.
Don’t rush into anything blindly; take advice from those who have done this before and who still do this every day. You may be an expert in your field, but trust me when I say that no one knows everything! People who’ve been doing what they do for twenty years are likely not going to know everything either. Make sure to read our other articles on practice management software and decide for yourself.
So there you have it, the five key steps you need to take in order to start your own virtual law firm. These are just the beginning steps, but they are important ones! Take them slowly and make sure that everything is done correctly before moving on to anything else. Once those basics are covered, it’s time to start marketing yourself as an expert in your area of expertise (and don’t forget about networking with other professionals).
RunSensible is a true all-in-one case management software with extensive features and cloud-based performance. RunSensible is the definition of feature-rich and will be the only tool you need to grow your practice. Check it out right now for free (no credit card needed) and see what it can do for your practice. You can also contact us for a personal demo of the software.
Now that you’re all set up with your new virtual law firm, it’s time to get to work! The final step is to make sure that you market your law firm in the right way. You’ll want to start by building a website, which is essential for any lawyer hoping to attract clients online. Next comes social media marketing — this includes LinkedIn and Facebook pages for both personal as well as professional use. It may be helpful now too if this involves developing relationships with other lawyers who have experience running their own practices from home offices so they can offer some advice along the way!
What is a Virtual Law Firm?
A virtual law firm is a law firm that utilizes technology to allow lawyers to turn their practice toward remote work and paperless solutions.
What are the advantages of a virtual law firm?
Some of the more important advantages of creating your virtual law firm include being able to work remotely but seamlessly, going paperless, organizing your practice, saving time, saving money by using tech tools for lawyers instead of hiring more staff.
Who needs to create a virtual law firm?
If you’re an attorney or legal practitioner, you should at least consider going virtual. While some may argue that a virtual law firm is best for solo lawyers, the facts show that every firm can benefit from going virtual and using software.