Over the past couple weeks I have spoken with two or three attorneys who have been laid off from their positions at large law firms. A couple of them knew that the practices of their BigLaw firms were not sustainable in this economic environment and had the foresight to pad their savings. Now they are considering opening virtual law practices as a way of transitioning from a large law practice into the next phase in their legal career.
The trend of opening a virtual law practice as a method of career transition seems to be growing. Previously I had been working with attorneys who wanted to use a virtual law office (VLO) to generate additional online client revenue for their existing law practices or who wanted to go completely web-based for the flexibility and better work/life balance. Transitioning with a virtual law practice is another use of the technology to consider.
A VLO could be a great way of keeping an attorney’s resume up to date and allow them to continue practicing law while they transition from one phase of their legal career to the next or perhaps phase into retirement, taking only the online clients they want to continue to handle. Maybe an attorney needs to move with their spouse to another state but has yet to sit for another state’s bar exam. They could continue to practice law of the state they are licensed in through a VLO while studying and moving to another jurisdiction.
The technology is flexible so that conflicts of interest checks can be run against any previous law practice contacts and export features would allow an attorney to export the data contained in a VLO into another law practice management system once the attorney had completed the transition in their career. If the transitional VLO took off, generating a steady online client base, then the attorney would have the option of keeping their virtual doors open and operating a completely web-based VLO or adding it to whatever practice of law they join or open for themselves.
Or an attorney transitioning into retirement and closing the doors to their traditional law practice might use a VLO to retain a select number of clients to work with on the side online while enjoying their retirement by traveling and not being tied down to a physical law office. They could even use a VLO to transition out of a practice by using it to communicate and work online with their partners and associates in the traditional law office while they cruise around on a yacht or go hiking in the mountains. As long as they could carry their iPhone or Blackberry around with them and get wireless access, they could transition gracefully out of the firm remotely.
These are just a couple ideas about how to use a virtual law practice to transition through phases of a legal career. I’ve written before about how both men and women in the legal profession could use a VLO to take time off to care for their families and transition in and out of a traditional law office using the technology for that purpose. Let me know your thoughts on other ways that legal professionals could use a virtual law practice to transition between phases in their lives and careers.