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Leading virtual firms requires many of the same responsibilities and skills as do traditional firms, such as managing the financial aspects of the firm and focusing on client service, said Chad E. Burton in a recent Law Practice Magazine article.
“Regardless of any label placed on a law firm, every model must be based upon serving its clients,” said Burton, the founding attorney and principal of Burton Law, a virtual firm with lawyers in Ohio, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. “If the firm loses sight of this purpose, problems will likely ensue, and what would otherwise be a structured system will fall into disorganization. This holds just as true for virtual firms.”
Consequently, virtual firm leaders must maintain focus on who they are serving and how they are doing it. Once the client base is identified, the “how” of serving that base becomes the everyday challenge, Burton said. “Executing the management of an effective virtual team of lawyers, therefore, involves two intertwined concepts: the human element and the technological support,” he said.
The Human Element
The human element is about culture, according to Burton. The virtual firm’s leadership must figure out what the culture will look like. While some virtual firms perform more as a branded network, where the lawyers exist primarily in isolated silos, a better approach is to create a culture of collaboration, Burton said. “This is harder to pull off, but it can better serve the firm’s clients,” he said.
Listed below are some of the key leadership issues for managing a virtual firm with a culture of collaboration. (For the full list, see the article online.)
Choosing technology with some thought will help achieve the points on building the team described above, according to Burton. Listed below are some helpful practices to implement:
Law Practice Magazine is a publication of the Law Practice Management Section.