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5 Tips to running a laptop law firm

by Jonathan Rosenfeld, ABA Legal Technology Today

Technology has leveled the playing field for both small and large law firms to scale up and meet their clients’ needs. Starting a laptop law firm practice gives you the flexibility to work from different locations, and with the latest technology, you have unlimited options. Having a laptop law firm allows you to control overhead, working hours and your life.

However, it’s crucial to know the basics, including familiarizing yourself with your area jurisdiction and ethical rules, and knowing the local bar associations to help provide the resources and assistance needed in running a laptop law firm. Additionally, create policies, draft a business plan with realistic milestones and have an established process to run your law firm smoothly. Here are the top five tips to running a laptop law firm.

  1. Use tools that streamline collaboration between the client and you. The key to a successful laptop law firm is having the necessary tools that will improve your client’s experiences, while making your workflow seamless. Ascertaining the best tools for your law practice may be difficult, but educating yourself on the latest technology tools and reviewing the various tools available for law firms will enable you to select the most impactful ones. Using the right tools helps to enhance an alliance that keeps everyone in the loop. Invest in different law practice management software like video conferencing tools (Skype, Google Hangouts and Zoom). Such tools help to establish an eye-to-eye contact that makes a difference in getting clients. Investing in answering services tools and other law office virtual features gives you an on-demand law office. Consider having a paperless practice for increased mobility and flexibility. Using the web-based client’s portal built into the legal practice management software gives your clients 24/7 access and update about their case. This enables easy collaboration and communication in a more encrypted and secure online environment.
  2. Use cloud computing software. Using cloud computing software helps you manage the law firm in a safe and streamlined manner. Cloud computing technology acts as a great equalizer as it enables you to have affordable access to the powerful software that keeps the law firm operating virtually. We have DocuSign, which provides a versatile way of signing documents. Using DocuSign is easy, and it enables the secure signing of documents digitally. Additionally, you can share evidence easily and faster using DropBox and Google Docs for easier team collaboration.  Using communication tools like Slack makes it easy to put everyone involved on the same page and without having to schedule constant meetings. These tools help to enhance collaboration and upend the old workflows providing you with a flawless laptop law firm.

    Using technology to handle billing and to track time ensures you get paid faster and keep track of your progress. Most law practice management platforms have built-in billing and time-tracking software. The software helps you capture and manage all the billable time directly into the firm's billing system. You can enter the client invoice, edit it and send it to them for verification and payment. Most of the billing software accepts payments like credit cards, PayPal and eChecks, making getting paid faster.
  3. Don’t worry about the staff.  When running a laptop law firm, lack of staff means working without an executive assistant or paralegal. Sometimes this may be a good thing since you learn to speed up every detail. Invest in having different monitors and an internal server that enables you to do everything digitally. You can hire a freelancer with a law background who can bring in extra help when needed, without having to worry about the overhead. Outsourcing various business functions like call-answering, accounting and marketing services help to keep the focus on clients without worrying about the cost.

  4. Build and maintain an online presence. A laptop law firm needs to have an online presence with a website that outlines your services. Avoid being a jack-of-all-law-trades and instead focus on narrowing to one or two practice areas within the same related fields. Create your unique image and online presence to attract more clients. Building on a specific niche based on circumstances or demographics makes your marketing efforts more noticeable and targeted.  You can create an online presence through social media, website and networking.

    As you create an online presence, your website should be attractive and professional. Since you don’t have a physical footprint, your website should be discoverable online. When launching a website, opt for easy-to-use templates that are easy to navigate, populated with an understandable and straightforward core content that is relevant and flawless. To have a high ranking on Google searches, you need to generate content frequently, personally or by outsourcing this function. Either way, always ensure you have something online that talks about your law practice. You may also consider hiring a firm to do SEO work for your firm.

    Social media:
    Social media has become essential for marketing law firm practices. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook need to be integrated with your website to create a stronger online presence. Use social media management tools like Buffer and Hootsuite, which allow you to plan content and post in advance. Likewise, use the various online tools to help you measure post engagements to determine the most traction for your audience. Regardless of the social platform you use, ensure you have a marketing strategy that gives services that satisfy your clients.

    You can get more mileage by embracing networking. In case you get referrals for a line of law services you don’t provide, pass the opportunity to an attorney within your networking circle. Such references help to increase the return rate on your investment by giving you new professional contacts for future new business.
  5. Maximize mobility. Delivering legal services depends on your client’s terms. Adopting broader technology ensures you respond to them wherever and whenever. Being a laptop law firm and delivering on such expectations means moving with your office and leveraging the cloud. Keep on learning the various law and technology practices to drive your firm to higher levels. Additionally, renting a workstation in a virtual law office suite allows you to meet other lawyers within other practice fields.  Getting trapped on your laptop and home office might be keeping you from potential client connections, overall happiness and professional success.

Running a laptop law firm needs a proper technology and office arrangement that provides you with a successful law practice. Following the above tips enables you to fast-track and build on your growth. Remember, a laptop law firm is a journey and with continuous learning you can have long-term success.

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Attorney Jonathan Rosenfeld at has dedicated his life to giving a voice to those who would not otherwise have one. He represents the two most vulnerable populations in society: infants and the elderly. His life's work is to provide special protection to the vulnerable against people who injure, neglect or abuse them.

ABA Law Technology Today was launched in 2012 to provide the legal community with practical guidance for the present and sensible strategies for the future. LTT brings together practicing lawyers, technology professionals and practice management experts from a wide range of practice settings and backgrounds. LTT is published by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center.

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