Career Choice Series Webinar Replay

Building a Virtual Law Practice for the Modern-Day Client

Pew  2019 study suggests that telework  (should be made) widely available and  in common use before disaster strikes.

Pew 2019 study suggests that telework (should be made) widely available and in common use before disaster strikes.

LightField Studios | Shutterstock

Note: This is not for CLE. Live webinars are free and open to the public. The recorded program and materials are exclusively for ABA members. Not an ABA member? Join now and get the benefits of membership. 

The Career Choice Series is designed to help you choose your career path. Whether you’re a law student, young lawyer, or transitioning attorney, find out what it’s like to work in various practice areas and the best way to position yourself to get there.

Description & Speakers

The Coronavirus pandemic has shaken us to our core and left us searching for ways to serve our clients through virtual resources. In this webinar, you’ll learn how Rukayatu Tijani combined her Silicon Valley big law skills with modern-day virtual technology to open her own virtual law practice to provide streamlined trademark services for the modern-day entrepreneur.  

You’ll learn about her favorite tech and ways you can streamline the legal process and your own legal practice to best serve your clients, whether your practice is in IP or elsewhere. 

Speakers

Rukayatu Tijani, Founder, Firm for the Culture, San Mateo, CA

Moderator

Lewis Check, North America Senior Professional Development Manager, Baker McKenzie LLP, Chicago, IL

Sponsors

ABA Career CenterYoung Lawyers Division  and Law Student Division.

Video & Handout | Webinar Q&A

Handout

Speaker Q&A

Are these transparent prices traditional price points for these services?

Depends on what you define as “traditional.” Our services not only encompass Trademark filing and registration, but webinars and workshops for social impact organizations seeking to scale their impact on a national and international scale. We also incorporate a lot of tech to streamline the client experience.  This tech allows our clients to access their documents through individualized portals and book calls with us for no additional fees. Our pricing reflects the premier services we provide to clients for the year-and-a-half-long process we’ll engage with them.  And considering we are in the Silicon Valley, our prices are actually cheaper than many of the lawyers who provide similar services.

Is there an advantage to learning to code?

Perhaps.  But we do just fine without knowing how to code! We delegate much of the non-legal tasks to website developers, bookkeepers, and virtual assistants. This allows us to focus on what we do best-providing trademark services to our clients!

Working with entrepreneurs and startups, they often don't have money allocated for legal, do you take equity in a client firm for payment?

We do not (but we have considered it!). This is because legal ethical rules are still not entirely caught up with this type of compensation structure. So we steer clear of anything but direct payment for now!

For Q&A. That is a great question. I'm tech | Cyber | ADR | Mediator and am looking to learn how my tech skills can help lawyers going in this direction (virtual). And also how to contact them to offer my skill in this area which also includes web design. Any suggestions? I'm on board of advisors with a cutting edge company now, yet want to do more consulting in law along the lines of tech.

That sounds great! I can easily see so many people benefitting from the unique way you intend to serve them.  I’d encourage you to get clear on your ideal client, and then create workshops and join forums where they are located and start sharing tips about how to remedy disputes. Keep the tips high level for now, and when people want to hear more from you, invite them to schedule a consult!

Advice on starting?

Grab the domain and just start! You got this!

Yes, I'm wondering about overhead in virtual vs brick and mortar

We save a bunch of money in not having a brick and mortar.  Instead of working in a traditional brick and mortar, we pay for co-working spaces. This allows us to be a lot more flexible.

Do you maintain a brick and mortar office at all? Do you have any employees or do you outsource?

Instead of working in a traditional brick and mortar, we pay for co-working spaces. This allows us to be a lot more flexible.  For now, we are outsourcing non-legal work (i.e. bookkeeping and marketing).

Could you email the companies that allow pre-paying consultations?

Sure! Dubsado, Acuity, and Calendly allow you to schedule consultations for payment.  This works perfectly for me because individuals are not allowed to get on my calendar until they have paid.

Do any states actually allow a total virtual law office, i.e. with no brick-and-mortar office building/physical business address within the lawyer's state of licensure? If so, which states?

I encourage you to research the states that are entirely virtual! For California, we are allowed to maintain a Virtual Law Office but must comply with unique ethical requirements.  See Ethics Opinion Here.

How do you run a virtual law firm with NY states office requirement that requires a dedicated office space?

This is something you’d want to check your ethics board about! California has an ethics hotline that we run a lot of these and other questions by!

How did you choose your website info?

I read the ethics guidelines and reviewed the websites of other attorneys practicing in my area!

Do you have any information about the ethics of email marketing?  I want to start keeping my clients up to date on latest developments in the law that could impact them but I am concerned about violating ethical duties by adding them to an email blast list.

These may be state-specific so I encourage you to review your state ethics website!

When you say you've worked from another state, do you represent clients in those states, or are you merely doing work for your NY and CA clients from another location.

I represent clients from all over the country and in a body of law that is purely federal in nature. This is because Trademark Law is federal in nature and we engage with one tribunal with headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Should state law come into the mix, we separate ourselves and ask for the assistance of local counsel

How much typically it cost to start a virtual firm?

It varies on how lean or robust you’d like to be! Some considerations include website development, social media management, calendaring software, client relationship management software, and the like.  You can spend as little as $300 or as much as $4000-$15,000! It varies greatly!

Have you considered getting other bar admissions?

I think New York and California are enough for me, ha ha! I may work on reciprocity for other bars!

Does the ethics of social media, such as Facebooks privacy lapses, bother you with using them to reach out to clients. Is there a confidentiality issue and issue with creating an attorney-client relationship.

We don’t reach out to potential clients. We are very clear about this at my firm.  We generally market to them, and in our marketing, we invite them to schedule a call with us. And when they are completing the intake form to schedule a call, we have them affirmatively check that this call does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.  If they do not check this, they cannot schedule the call with us!