If there is one thing that is evident with technological advancement, it is that all attachments to the ways of carrying out a process, executing a business model, and even practicing a profession must be loosened. Transformation is a daily act that envelops any space and law firms, thanks to technology, are in the midst of change.
It has not only been a matter of protecting the confidential data handled at the firm. Technological progress has also proposed a radical change in the traditional business model, requiring the appropriation of systems capable of performing online processes that were previously carried out in person.
Going anywhere with the law firm is one of the main transformations offered. by the technological era. This is possible with the service of a robust digital infrastructure that allows access to all files and all functions available for work or consultation from any internet connection.
Several brands offer virtual workspaces to law firms designed to replicate the local IT infrastructure, including desktop applications frequently used in the daily work of the firm. Having the desktop in a cloud (virtual space for storing information) provides three important benefits:
- Relieves law firms from managing a local infrastructure such as databases or servers.
- It avoids the need to use robust computer equipment in the firm to maintain an adequate IT infrastructure.
- It provides remote access to all stored resources and data, without any restrictions other than those established by privacy measures.
- The workspaces under this environment also include antivirus software, firewalls and an intrusion detection system in order to protect the information stored in the digital cloud.
Greater reach, less investment
The origin of the digital legal practice seems to go back to the professional experience of English lawyer Andrew Woolley.who in 1996 decided to become independent and start offering his services without having a physical office available. Today his virtual firm continues to handle clients and works with more than 20 lawyers.
Woolley was perhaps the closest known example.But before him, several law firms were already going digital in some of their functions. Even in 1973, the law firm of American lawyer Paul Fegen began offering virtual office services to law firms. All these changes generated the detachment from physical law firms and opened the way to new options appropriate to the new times.
The economic imbalances of 2008 served as a catalyst for the virtual practice of law by reducing the number of jobs in law firms and increasing the expertise of newly graduated professionals in technology.
The legal profession has been accustomed over the years to sharing physical spacesThe economic resources necessary to set up one's own firm are not always available. In these spaces, technological changes have been gradually appearing, shortening distances and reducing costs. For this reason, the adaptation to the virtual space does not seem to be so complicated for these professionals, who have had to modify the business model in other opportunities.
It wasn't until after the mid-1990s that technology made it possible to move a law firm completely from the physical space to the virtual world.
Migrating a law firm to the virtual world requires investment. However, this is no more than the cost of maintaining a physical and IT infrastructure with a staff installed every day of the week, during working hours.
Considering the possibility of setting up a digital law firm should consider the following to manage online all the functions determined in the legal practice, from sharing documents related to the legal case to meeting via videoconference with the client or interested parties.
Technology in Law Firms: challenges of the virtual
When changing the business model, transformations obviously occur. in the way of practicing law. It has not been easy for all lawyers to adapt to the new requirements, discarding the patterns previously established in the so-called traditional practice.
Finding motivation to transcend the "isolation" that working out of the office can entail has been one of the challenges to be faced by professionals from the virtual world, as evidenced in the ABA Legal Technology Survey Report 2013. Following this analysis, it was observed that by not working every day from a physical space, lawyers decrease the opportunities to collaborate with other colleagues and exchange referrals, limiting the opportunities to obtain more contracts and therefore, profits.
This situation is undoubtedly merited, a special digital marketing job for these professionals, allowing them to fully enter the digital world.
The practice of virtual law is an opportunity for those attorneys who wish to achieve a better balance between their work and personal activities, as it requires a different kind of time management. However, to keep productivity on the rise, it is necessary to recruit the ideal people for this mission, i.e. people who are able to deal responsibly with the transition to the digital office.
As technology continues to advance and processes continue to improveIn the future, it will be easier and easier to migrate lawyers' services to the virtual world. Only time will tell when the transformation will occur in the business model and in the professional practice itself, to adjust to the demands of the market and the needs of the client.
"They are telling us that technical knowledge is essential, but not enough; that we need to develop other skills that have to do with management; to better understand their business and their problems; to be more strategic, flexible and innovative in the provision of services; to evolve from a more traditional vision of law to a more open one."Joaquín Latorre, Managing Partner of PwC Tax & Legal Services, is a member of PwC Tax & Legal Services. in an interview for Expansión.