Do Lawyers Need Offices Anymore?

from The Atlantic

VLP Law Group is a successful young firm by just about all measures: It employs about 50 attorneys. Its business is growing, and it counts startups and Fortune 500 companies among its clients—some of them even Fortune 10 companies.

And its lawyers never go to an office. 

VLP is one of several “virtual” law firms that are seeking provide legal services on the level of a traditional firm’s while dispensing with office space and having their attorneys work remotely, whether from home, a coffee shop, or a coworking space. On top of saving firms money on rent and reducing the pressure lawyers feel to be constantly present in order to appear busy, this arrangement has another, more basic benefit: It’s making many lawyers’ lives better. 

Michael Moradzadeh left a career in “Big Law” and in 2008 launched Rimon PC, which he calls “a truly virtual law firm, meaning distributed attorneys working from their homes connected through the cloud.” This model appeals to lawyers looking for a better work-life balance. “Instead of spending two hours commuting, I spend that two hours with my family,” says Moradzadeh. Options for remote work have become more common in the legal industry, but at firms where remote work is the exception, telecommuters can feel stigmatized. But when everyone is working virtually “there’s no stigma because it’s standard,” explains Debbie Epstein Henry, the founder of the firm Bliss Lawyers.

In addition to providing lawyers more control over their schedules, law firms that forgo the overhead that comes with office space can pass those savings onto clients—a major selling point of virtual firms. “We provide sophisticated legal advice in a wide range of practice areas, but our overhead is low, our staffing lean, our fees flexible and value-driven,” touts VLP’s website.

More here.

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  1. VLP Law Group made a decision to have a remote business environment. A remote environment have pros and cons, but I personally would not work remotely. Yes, it sounds very appealing to be home at all times and spend time with family, but all of the distraction will not help with getting work done. I like to be face-to-face with employees when I have questions or problems with work. In this situation, VLP could work remotely because the employees are lawyers and tend to work individually on cases that was brought to them. Most lawyers work out of their home due to having individual work or the expensive expense of opening a practice.
    One pro of working remotely is spending more time with family, and even friends. If an employee already started a family with a loved one, then it’s easier to spend time with kids and the spouse. The con with this is distraction. Somebody with no children will be more focused but there are little things that might distract someone, and then all concentration is lost. A second pro with working remotely is less communication with colleagues. I believe this is a pro for multiple reasons. One, some employees do not get along. The employees who have problems with each other try to be cordial, but in the long run they report each other or don’t work well on any project. Second, everything is technology based. If an employee has any issue or problems, another employee is always one call, email, or text away. A con for this would be the non face-to-face communication. Some people like to see expressions or gestures when talking to another person. I like to see the expressions on someone’s face when I gossip to make sure I’m holding the conversation well. I know everyone is different, but I learned that some people actually like to look at someone when making conversation. Also, you would have to rely on your cell phone for communication; everyone does not pick up on the first ring, or answer a text right away. Another pro to working remotely is travel. There is no need to travel, unless the employee is meeting a customer, but it saves money on gas. The last pro I’ll present is saving money from not having a practice. In the beginning of the article, it stressed that working remotely is helping with the cost of having a practice; it is not as expensive to work from home than it is to pay for a building with offices, and having to keep up with supplies, etc.
    I understand that working remotely makes the employees life better, but how is it making it better? I would be bored at home all day looking at a screen. Yes, in a office you would do the same thing, but there’s relationships made with employees where you would want to swing over to their cubicle to gossip, or have lunch with them. Also, if there’s any problems or confusion, you could walk over to someone’s cubicle and ask questions. I honestly would not like to be home all day and work on a computer; something always catches my eye then I get caught up with doing that, so the distractions would definitely get the best of me.

  2. VLP Law Group is a successful firm that promotes a remote work environment. All employees work from the comfort of their own home or a coworking space. Remote environments have their positive and negative perspectives that most can agree on. Personally, I have both negative and positive feelings about working remotely. With remotely working, I would not have to worry about commuting to work every morning, especially since I am not a morning person. However, I would be bored not having fellow co workers around me to interact and collaborate with.

    The pros and cons of working remotely outweigh each other when you think about it. A pro with working remotely is less communication with employees. Some people are more introverted and tend to keep to themselves in the workplace, so this would be a big pro for them. They can peacefully work without having to think about any communication with any of their colleagues. However, this can be a negative aspect as well. Some people who are more extroverted tend to work better around others and are more productive when they have co workers around them to engage with. Depending on the kind of person you are, this could be a negative or positive to the job you work at. Another pro of working remotely is the fact that you are always available at home. Single mothers tend to enjoy working remotely because they are able to care for their children while working from the comfort of their own office space. Most mothers do not trust nannies babysitting their children, so this would also be a way to ease their mind. However, this is also a big negative. Children are not easy to take care of, especially if they are babies or toddlers. They need constant attention during these ages, so working and having to take care of multiple children would be difficult to balance a heavy workload. A final pro to working remotely is the ease of technology. Technology nowadays makes it easier to work from basically anywhere and there are many platforms that make remote working easier. Slack is a chat forum where you can communicate with all of your fellow employees in real time. Google Suites is also helpful because you can collaborate on projects with co workers and see the edits being made right in front of you. But, a negative to this would be if the only technology one had to work suddenly broke or if the wifi were to stop working. This would impact your work day because then one would have to go to get the computer fixed or get the cable workers to fix the wifi.

    Working remotely can definitely be a plus to certain people. However, others who are skeptical about the idea should really consider and do their research. There is definitely a big adjustment to be made if one chooses to work remotely instead of in the office. Some can be prepared for that while others may not take it too well.

  3. What Leigh describes in this article is the example of a company switching up its business model to more properly acclimate to the times. With the pace society is going we are at the beginning of a full digital transformation. The more fundamental ways of looking at certain things are changing as the newer generation begins to evolve. Companies are focusing more on their websites, their social media presence, and ways to reduce as much physical manpower needed. VLP has the right idea when it comes to eliminating office space and by doing so not cuts total costs but also appeals to more modern clients. With the advent of Amazon making delivering whatever you want to your door, having a company focused solely on their online presence makes it more convenient for clients. Now, they could get in contact with a lawyer faster than having to travel to a firm and wait for the next available attendant. This streamlined service is exactly what is needed in order to adjust to the changing landscape. However, the biggest problem right now is that older generations are more reluctant to get acclimated to the newer times. Most of them are unfamiliar with computer programs or mobile phones so they miss out on the potential the changing industry has. Obviously, like Leigh said working from home has its own downsides. Not having that constant work environment can lead to distractions, personally to get the most work done I need to be outside of my room. But in the end, being more accessible and cutting costs is well worth it. I feel like more companies will start switching over to the business model to ensure that they are ahead of the game.

  4. First, I had no idea this was a thing. However, now that I do, I think it’s awesome! I am in huge support of this for a few reasons. I believe that a family-work life balance is immensely important. Everyone, regardless of the profession someone wishes to pursue, is deserving of some family time. It truly benefits mental health and family growth. There are many families with young children spend a lot of time without their parents, or one parent, because they have such a demanding job, but if this can make it possible to work in a legal field and be with your family, then I am all for it. I do, however, understand there is always the caution of actually balancing the two worlds and not getting distracted, so if I ever took advantage of a service like this, I would want some kind of reassurance that my lawyer was giving me their full attention.

    Additionally, I really like the idea of this service because it is more cost effective for the worker and the consumer. Less travel time means less time on the clock, therefore a more affordable service for the consumer. There is less money having to be put out for traveling, clothing, material etc. for the lawyer as well, making this overall cheaper. It also can save money for the consumer if they would be able to access these services from home as well, eliminating the need to leave for work or obtain childcare. They also wouldn’t have to travel if that was an issue for them, making obtaining legal help so much more practical.

    I’m sure there is A LOT that goes into perfecting a service like this that holds so much value and importance. I am excited to hear that this is a thing and I am hoping to start seeing more availability for things like this around me. I feel like the benefit on both parties is so worth it.

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