The Virtual Practice

by Jeremy on February 24, 2009

This article was originally posted on Shaun Jamison’s blog (http://shaunjamison.blogspot.com/).  It is republished with Shaun’s permission.  It is a very good take on the advantages and disadvantages to virtual office for attorneys.  Thank you Shaun for the great post.


lapglobeOne way for lawyers to have flexibility and reduce their environmental footprint is to office from home, at least part of the time.  Imagine spending part of the day in comfortable clothes, not having spent the morning grinding through traffic.  If your business doesn’t require availability for walk in traffic, you might consider this option.

What are the pros and cons for a lawyer considering a virtual practice?

Pros first, ’cause I’m a positive guy:

1. Save money on renting office space
2. Avoid rush hour
3. Save gas
4. Meet clients at their homes and offices (value add for clients)
5. More time to work on client matters instead of commuting
6. Lower fees for clients = better access to justice
7. Makes waiting for the cable guy less painful
8. Save on daycare (har, har, o.k. I’m lying here)

Cons, because, while positive, I’m not PollyAnna:

1. Risk to client privacy if others have access to your home or computer
2. Client may not accept lack of office space
3. Difficult to keep sufficient boundaries between work and home
4. May not be perceived as professional by referral sources
5. If your home is not close to the action, you may end up driving everywhere
6. Not always a good idea for your clients and opposing parties to know where you live
7. Working from home may violate city or association rules or irritate neighbors
8. Too many temptations at home: refridgerator, laundry, repairs, and cleaning Also, family members figure because you are home, you have unlimited time to run errands, etc. It’s not like you are working at a real office.

Tips:

1. Clearly communicate boundaries and expectations with clients and family members (screaming kids as background to a phone call does not make for a professional image – grrrr)
2. Take steps to secure confidential data
3. Have an office address through a service that can accept packages through UPS store or similar service or executive suite
4. Have an option to rent a conference room for sensitive meetings that cannot be held in a public place like a coffee shop (frugal tip – Costco sells coffee cards at a discount, don’t go broke meeting clients)
5. Set working hours for yourself in which you will not take on distractions
6. Check with city & any relevant association concerning operating a business from home
7. Set goals each day for want you want to get done
8. Check to make sure you have appropriate insurance including “important paper” insurance

Do you have pros, cons, or tips? Please feel free to comment!

Dr. Shaun Jamison
Success Coach
www.guideonyourside.com

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