When you operate a virtual law office, you’re foregoing the traditional brick-and-mortar office for one of two main options.
- You’re running your law office out of your home or on the go. This works much the way you would expect. You can set aside an office space in your home, work out of coffee shops and hotels, and keep all of your work organized online.
- You’re utilizing a co-working or virtual office network. The other common definition of a virtual office is a space that you rent out but share with other businesses. Instead of having a designated office, you sign up to be part of a network that allows you to reserve rooms for meetings with clients—giving you a physical space outside your home where you can host people. While you would still keep all your work “virtual,” you can receive mail and phone calls to the virtual office location. Often, these virtual offices have multiple locations, allowing you to work out of them as you travel.
Starting a solo firm or opening a small law practice can be expensive, and as you grow, you often find yourself focused on minimizing costs as much as possible. Either of the above options provides you with the opportunity to skip the expensive overhead of leasing an office space. Instead, you have more freedom to work the way you want. While this flexibility is very effective for some attorneys, your actual success depends on your work style.
Operating a virtual law office has both pros and cons.
Pros of a Virtual Law Office
When you think about the advantages of a virtual law office, there’s a good chance you’re thinking about the price tag—which is, naturally, one of the most significant advantages. That being said, there are a lot of other pros to moving into a virtual space.
Some advantages include:
- Lower monthly overhead
- Eco-friendly and possibly paper-free
- Greater flexibility to transition between stages in your business
- Ability to serve a wider client base because you aren’t tied down to a single office location
- Flexibility with the hours you work and more control over your work/life balance
Cons of a Virtual Law Office
While there are a number of advantages of a virtual space, it also comes with a few distinct disadvantages. As your firm grows, you may outgrow a virtual office at some point. So, it’s important that you keep in mind these disadvantages when choosing your office solution.
Some disadvantages include:
- Lack of “traditional” office feel
- Blurred lines between work and personal life—may negatively impact work/life balance
- If you work out of a virtual office location, you may feel like a guest in your own space
- You may need to take extra steps to ensure your state bar approves your software and tools
- You may need to take extra steps to ensure smooth client communications
- You’ll want to take extra security measures when working out of shared spaces
- If you work out of your home, you may have to give clients your home address or find another meeting space
Whether a virtual law office is right for you depends on many factors. If you do choose a virtual office, it’s important to have the practice management tools and resources to adequately run your virtual office.