Solopreneur attorneys and small legal firms face myriad challenges. A recent study by Rocket Matter identifies 10 top challenges:
1. Acquisition of new clients
2. Clients who want more for less and pressure for reduced rates
3. Too much time managing administrative tasks
4. Need to control costs and growth in expenses
5. Difficulty dealing with increased complexity of technology
6. Succession planning (for those firms with numerous attorneys)
7. Information overload from growing document volume
8. Lack of internal efficiencies
9. Keeping up with the increased pace of legal and regulatory change
10. Staying abreast of changes in the legal market
Virtual offices may not solve every one of the above issues, but they can certainly help attorneys to address many of them. So, what are virtual offices? They are professional coworking spaces, day offices, and conference rooms that can be rented on-demand. In the case of solopreneur attorneys and small laws, virtual offices provide them with great alternative to permanent office space; one that is better—from cost, to efficiency, to professionalism.
For solopreneur attorneys and small legal firms seeking to leverage virtual offices, the following are 20 ways that can help ensure you get full value from them:
1. Dump the permanent physical office space.
The days when professional services firms require a physical permanent storefront from which to run their businesses are in the past. Permanent office space is expensive and often doesn’t exude the professional accoutrements you want to convey.
2. Get office addresses in sought-after locations.
Virtual office addresses like Davinci Virtual Offices offer attorneys the ability to secure addresses in sought-after locations without the cost of a permanent office. Here, solopreneur attorneys and small legal firms have the ability look and act like much law firms.
3. Seamlessly scale up and down.
Permanent physical offices lock you into long-term contracts and a finite office space. Unused space is wasted money, whereas you cannot scale beyond the walls of the office in the case that your case load skyrockets and you require more staff than your office will accommodate. Neither of these scenarios apply to virtual offices, as you can easily scale up and down as needed.
4. List in the lobby directory.
Virtual office addresses not only give you a great office address, but they also provide you with a lobby directory listing—further bolstering your credibility and stature as a legal firm.
5. Incorporate and get a registered agent.
A physical mailing address and location, which virtual addresses give you, afford solopreneur attorneys and small legal firms the ability to register as an incorporated business. Hanging out your “attorney shingle” has never been easier with virtual office addresses.
6. Always having a physical office option.
Not every employee is cut out to work outside of a traditional office environment. In addition, sometimes it is simply impossible to work from home—from noisy neighbors, disruptive pets, and visits from friends and family. In these instances, coworking spaces or day offices offer a great alternative.
7. Facilitate collaboration and trust.
For virtual teams, it is important to foster a level of collaboration and trust between different members. Having the right conferencing and collaborative technologies in place is an important starting point. For team meetings, virtual conference rooms give you a professional location, including administrative and technological services, that make your meetings immensely more productive and successful.
Communications for virtual teams are vital. Coworking spaces and day offices provide them with a chance to interact in-person on assigned “office” workdays. And virtual conferences rooms with the right conferencing and collaboration technology tools ensure that attorneys, paralegals, and administrative staff who are offsite can communicate and collaborate with other team members as if they were there in person.
9. Leverage a lobby greeter.
Lobby greeters in virtual offices afford solopreneurs and organizations with professionals, helping them to look and act like and compete with much larger organizations.
10. Achieve worry-free lobby arrivals.
Lobby greeters can answer questions for visiting guests and make sure they are treated professionally in the waiting area (from restrooms to coffee and refreshments) while you or your staff is in other meetings. Thus, rather than worrying about the logistics of greeting incoming partners, customers, and other third parties, you can focus on finishing your preceding meetings.
11. Forward mail.
In case you have multiple virtual office locations, are frequently traveling, or aren’t in one location regularly, you can leverage mail forwarding services attached to your virtual addresses to ensure that your mail reaches you regardless of your location.
12. Recruit and hire hard-to-find (and retain staff).
A permanent physical office location necessitates that some staff spend valuable time commuting to and from work. However, growing numbers of workers seek the flexibility to work from home or work locations closer to their home. Virtual offices enable to offer them this flexibility, making it easier for you to find, hire, and retain highly skilled staff.
13. Meet clients and others.
When meeting with clients, you require a location that conveys professionalism as well as provides a setting that ensure confidentiality and privacy. Hotel conference rooms are expensive, costing an average of more than twice a virtual office, and simply don’t provide your client or the third party you’re interviewing the level of professionalism you want to convey. Further, many clients and third parties are busy and unable to commute long distances—something virtual offices ameliorate.
14. Take dispositions.
Taking dispositions is a serious legal matter, and this necessitates a setting that is professional and quiet and one that ensure privacy. This eliminates coffee shops and cafes. And as noted, hotel conference rooms are expensive and lack the professionalism you need to convey. For legal activities like dispositions and other interviews, a virtual day office or conference room is the perfect setting.
15. Create policies and procedures.
For virtual teams, it is important to document policies and procedures for your distributed work environment.
16. Use collaboration tools.
As a virtual team is on the go and not always in the same location, you should employ project management and collaboration technologies such as Slack, Yammer, Skype, etc. that ensure your team can communicate and collaborate in real time.
17. Leverage meeting room technologies.
Whether internal meetings or meetings with third parties, modern technologies are required—from high-speed Internet, to LCD projectors and plasma screens, to video conferencing, to others.
18. Rely on business services.
Not every virtual office comes with business service options. Having these are your disposal—copying, printing, secretarial services, faxing, mailing, and shipping—is often critical, enabling you to focus on your clients.
19. Use catering.
In some cases, working through breakfast, lunch, or dinner is necessitated. Virtual offices that offer catering options enable you to focus on clients and your legal teams.
20. Turn to live receptionists.
For solopreneur attorneys and small legal firms, having your calls go directly to your phone or those of your team distracts from serving clients and drains productivity. Live receptionists such as Davinci Live Receptionists give you the ability to answer and screen incoming calls from clients and other third parties and to source them to the appropriate members of your team.