Roger Glovsky of The Virtual Lawyer sees collaboration as a way for solos and small firm practitioners to compete in a market that gets more competitive every day. He also writes here about how the Internet and technology could be used to level the playing field a bit more:
“The problem for the solo practitioner and small firm is that it will get increasingly difficult to compete. Although the Internet is heralded for leveling the playing field, the rules of the game have changed. The new game is about having real-time, virtual, and personalized access, to people, information and tools that enhance productivity, improve results, and facilitate the practice of law. How will the solos and small firms develop these new resources?”
Virtual Law Offices offer an excellent way for a solo or small firm practitioner to compete with a larger, chain firm. I’m a solo. Do I have the funds to pop up a branch office of my solo in every major city in my state, plant associates and staff in each one and then ad a nice fat advertising budget on top of that to get the clients rolling in?
Of course not. Competition like this hits hard in a small city like mine where the traditional attorneys here are used to competing with other solos or small firms. Then a branch comes in with marketing strategies and huge budgets and it really does change the game.
IMHO, Virtual Law Offices might be one way for solos and small firms to expand their client base to the entire state without having to spend much more than $150-300 a month in cost for the web-based service/vlo website. If you can attract clients from across the state, then the ROI is going to be there and last.
I don’t think a VLO is the answer for every solo or small firm. I think for some attorneys like me who want the flexible work/life balance, a completely VLO might be the answer. For others, I think it could be used as a tool to compete with the larger firms who have the resources to pull in more clients. And it’s possible that a large firm could do the same thing and incorporate a VLO into their existing law office website and then pour money into online advertising of the VLO on search engines and attorney referral sites. I would be interested to hear what others think about using VLOs as a way for solos to compete with larger firms.