Many law firms thought it was impossible to run a remote practice before Covid-19. We have learned a lot over the past 18 months about how businesses adapt to new ways.
It seems that a growing number legal professionals are willing to make the permanent switch to virtual work.
Thomson Reuters, a legal information company, found that around 65% of UK lawyers had seen positive changes in their health as a result working from home.
This sentiment was shared by UK firm partners with 42% of them saying that remote working had improved working practices.
Let’s now take a look at three proven models for running remote law firms.
You can keep your existing business structure but ditch the office.
This option may seem like the easiest. Your business’s basic structure remains the same, except that your employees are located elsewhere, i.e. They work remotely.
This approach has the obvious advantage that it eliminates overhead costs associated with owning an office building without having to make major changes to your business model.
This may seem like the easiest way to switch to virtual work. However, there are many factors that you need to consider.
Employers have the same obligations to their staff, including compliance with safety and health standards in their new home offices.
While you may save money on office maintenance, your employees will still need to pay for any additional expenses they incur while working remotely. You will also be responsible for their equipment.
If you decide to go virtual, you will need to revise the office manual. Many people are surprised at how many things have to be changed after a shift from in-person work.
New systems will be needed to manage incoming and outgoing mail, court diaries and team meetings, cybersecurity, recruiting, training new staff and meeting clients. While your business model may be the same, the way you operate it will be completely different.
You should also consider the potential impact of losing visibility on the high streets. It is important to be present in the community. Older clients might need convincing.
Advertising locally and further afield can help to minimize the potential negative consequences. Advertising should include Legal directories, which are a great way to reach local clients who are looking for legal services.
Legal directories are also more affordable than other forms online advertising, which can quickly become very expensive.
Restructure to a classic model in virtual reality
Virtual law firms are built on the principle that there is no office and no employees. Instead, the team consists of self-employed consultants who are responsible for different aspects of their work that was previously handled by their employer.
This was the most popular model that virtual law firms used before Covid and has distinct advantages over the traditional in-person structure.
First, overheads will likely drop dramatically. You will save money on office maintenance and equipment. Your consultants can stay in control of their working conditions.
This method of working reduces cash flow problems as you won’t be paying monthly wages. Instead, the consultant is paid their fee when the company pays them.
Consultants have the advantage of being able to set their own hours and work for other companies, as well as the possibility to increase their income.
Lucy Scott-Moncrieff is a self-employed UK lawyer who says that consultants get 70% of what they bring in.