The ABA Journal published an article entitled “Lawyers’ definitions of virtual practice vary, but not when it comes to finding success”. The article runs through the different definitions of virtual law practice and the wide variety of ways that lawyers are choosing to deliver legal services online.More »
Archive for the ‘Cloud Computing’ Category
Last week I attended a conference hosted by Harvard Law School’s Program on the Legal Profession, entitled “Disruptive Innovation in the Market for Legal Services.”More »
I was thrilled to read that unbundling was mentioned several times at Reinvent Law in NYC last Friday. Unbundling, or limited scope representation, is the primary delivery method used by many of the newer, online methods of legal service delivery.More »
The Bona Fide Office Rule has reappeared in the news again. I’ve written about the Bona Fide Office rule here several times, mostly with regard to New Jersey’s joint ethics opinion on the subject. Other states have been revisiting surrounding issues in terms of the lawyer’s requirements to provide certain contact information on his or her website or other advertising and in that requirement calling for some physical office address.
Bona Fide Office rules discourage lawyers from finding alternative and often more affordable methods of delivering legal services to clients. Requiring that a member of the bar provide contact information to the regulatory body is obviously necessary. Requiring that a lawyer provide his or her clients with a reliable method of contacting the lawyer is also necessary.
However, a lawyer does not need to maintain a traditional, physical law office seven days a week during 9-5 business hours in order to accomplish either of these. He or she does not have to retain the services of an employee to work at that law office in order to answer the phone when the lawyer is not present to accomplish adequate and reliable communication with his or her clients.
The Supreme Court of Delaware recently issued an Opinion that suspended a lawyer who worked from his home office in Pennsylvania while practicing Delaware law. The lawyer’s violation of their Bona Fide Office Rule 12 was not the only item at issue in this opinion which is why I will not go into it in detail except for their discussion of the Bona Fide Office Rule which will mostly like be read by other lawyers in Delaware and potentially discourage them from considering virtual law practice and delivering legal services online to clients.
According to the Court:
“[t]he Rule requires that the office “be a place where the attorney or a responsible person acting on the attorney’s behalf can be reached in person or by telephone,” and have “the customary facilities for engaging in the practice of law.”
There is no mention of the possibility of the lawyer working from home and delivering legal services in unbundled fashion to his or her clients. There is no mention of the use of temporary/as needed renting of office space so that the lawyer can meet with the clients for full service representation, but continue to conduct the majority of their work with clients online. There is technology available to securely work with clients online. This technology decreases the cost of overhead of a traditional law office which in turn decreases the cost of legal fees. There is NO EXCUSE why States should not consider alternative forms of legal service delivery.
The lawyer that was suspended in this case was only using the phone to call his clients. There was no mention of any secure client portal or other virtual law office technology. But it’s the way that the Court addressed the Rule in their Opinion that disturbs me. They must start thinking outside of the Bona Fide Office Rule. It does not make sense anymore on so many levels to restrict how lawyers communicate with clients to in-person visits. Supporting a Bona Fide Office Rule is barrier that is going to continue to discourage lawyers from finding innovative and cost-effective ways to serve the public and increase access.More »
I was on a call last night preparing for a panel presentation at the Univ. of San Francisco where we will be discussing lawyer advertising and regulation. The event is entitled Legal Ethics in the 21st Century: Technology, Speech, and Money. I’m going back through some of my materials on this topic and thought I’d share. The below is a sidebar from my book about lawyer online advertising. With the Florida Bar going crazy with restrictions on lawyer blogs, it’s time to start pushing this matter forward.More »
Five Tips for Lawyers Purchasing Online Lead Generation Services 1. Find out how much traffic the branded network’s site generates. Check with a company like Quantcast, which provides an estimate of the traffic generated to a single website. 2. Find out where the company pulls in the leads. An unscrupulous company might be purchasing low-quality […]More »
The November/December issue of the CBA’s National Magazine featured an article entitled “Workplace Transformation“. The article poses the question of whether the legal profession is ready to focus on methods of practice that emphasize the lawyer’s performance above presence. I was interviewed for this article because of my work in virtual law practice and […]More »
In order for a law firm to begin the process of deciding what type of model for online delivery it needs and how to integrate online legal services, it must first take a step back and look at its existing practice areas and the services it currently provides to clients in a traditional manner. The […]More »