After recently signing up as a member of the Online Bar Association, I attended a dinner hosted by that group. Without a clear idea of the Association’s purpose, I nevertheless joined because I have an online presence and I handle matters outside of my local geographic area – South Florida. When the discussion at dinner focused upon the conduct of a “virtual law practice,” I learned to my surprise that in many respects that I already was conducting a virtual law practice.
That realization proved to be very liberating and empowering. I say that because when you look at the practice of law historically, it has always been geographically limited both from a practical as well as a regulatory standpoint on a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis. Such tacit limitations have led most lawyers to limit their vision, marketing efforts and educational pursuits to just their local jurisdiction. The power of the internet has pulled myself and other lawyers into representing clients outside of our local jurisdiction simply because such clients can find us on the internet, have a need that we are uniquely able to fulfill, and seek our help. Without perhaps seeking to do so, the path clients have beaten to my doorstep have led me into litigating in other states, representing foreign clients and providing legal advice to clients hither and yon, in many cases never meeting such clients in person, dealing with them mostly through my staff and relying upon technology to communicate, update, advise, bill, accept payments and deliver legal services.
Taking off my “Florida lawyer” hat and putting on my “Virtual lawyer” hat significantly widened my thinking about where I can and should be marketing my services as well as with whom I should be co-counseling matters. When you understand that the internet is like a massive global brain and each website adds specialized information and knowledge to that brain, you realize that lawyers who have specialized knowledge and information who make that knowledge available on the internet have the ability to attract clients from any jurisdiction that are actively searching for solutions to their specialized problems. Well what about when you know some important information that others are not aware of? For example, there have been US manufactured drugs that have caused strokes. While these stroke cases might have been advertised in the US, is the average potential client in South America aware of the linkage? Add to the equation, the fact that few foreign jurisdictions even have the product liability laws that exist in the US, and I quickly realized that the global market for virtual legal services is both ripe and ready for exploitation by visionary attorneys who are willing to look beyond their local jurisdictions and who have the flexibility, technological capacity and drive to educate those clients who have problems which may be resolved by a legal solution of which that they may not be aware.
So therefore it is with this new self-awareness that I am embarking upon the international practice of “virtual law” recognizing that my firm has the litigation/arbitration experience, procedural knowledge, technological capability, staffing flexibility and internet presence to actively compete in the global marketplace. In that regard, our low overhead, flexible case staffing, and ability and willingness to sub-out certain paralegal-type activities while retaining control over the delivered attorney work-product, puts us in a position to deliver quality legal services for costs that hitherto have been unmatched by comparable firms.