Clients are the Winners in Virtual Law Firms
By Jacquie Vinaccia
My last blog addressed the benefits to attorneys working in a virtual firm but not the benefits to a client hiring a virtual law firm. The benefits to the client are substantial and cannot be ignored.
I have been a litigator and trial attorney for nearly 30 years. While I have always loved being an attorney, I have not always liked my job. That is, there were times I did not care for the atmosphere of my firm and became dissatisfied and disillusioned with the job. When I am not happy with my job, I know it affects the product I deliver to my clients. When I am happy in my job, I am nimble, creative, quick, and proud of the product I deliver to my clients.
At Vanst Law, our motto is “Changing the Culture One Attorney at a Time.” We believe, and the research shows, that virtual law firms allow talented attorneys to work to their greatest potential and provide their clients with the best representation available. I know that the quality of my work has increased since joining Vanst Law, which has benefited my clients without raising their legal costs.
There are tangible cost benefits to the client in hiring counsel working in a virtual law firm. Most obviously, there are dramatically decreased personnel and physical office overhead paid out of the fee charged by the attorney. There are basic supply and technology costs that are paid as part of the attorney’s overhead, but these costs pale in comparison to the costs of the physical office and personal overhead. Any business owner will tell you that the highest costs of doing business are personnel costs, followed by the cost of maintaining a brick and mortar office. Not having these overhead costs leaves the attorney flexible to set rates that are lower than rates of BigLaw – or even boutique law firms – and thus allow access to high level legal services to a larger segment of the population.
Not having a physical office has also made me more accessible to my clients, rather than less accessible. While I have a membership in a co-working space, I work out of my home. All of my calls are forwarded to my cell phone. If I am out of the office, I will receive a client call. The only time I will not answer that call is if I am in court. Also, if I need to meet with a client, I often go to them rather than having them come to me, which my clients appreciate. It makes me more flexible, accessible, and more relatable.
Virtual firms are built on a horizontal model with each attorney a partner running their own book of business. There are no hourly or monetary minimums unilaterally set by the firm. Each attorney sets their own schedule and their own monetary goals. They are not constrained by minimums set by firm hierarchy. This leaves the attorney nimble to make the best decisions for the client. For example, should I choose to spend half my day chasing down an idea regarding a novel approach to my client’s case that I later decide should not be billed to my client, I simply do not bill it. I do not have to justify my decision to my partners, or anyone else.
Finally, I am not burdened by many of the administrative headaches that accompany solo practice. These include accounting, billing, collections, insurance procurement, or any of the other mundane things that made me question going solo. My time is dedicated to doing what I love most; practicing law and serving my clients.
Clients are the net winners in the virtual law firm model. We at Vanst Law never forget that.
Jacqueline S. Vinaccia is a litigation and trial lawyer, and attorney fee auditor. Litigation is stressful and expensive. Ms. Vinaccia’s tenacity, coupled with her compassion for clients, prompts an honest assessment of litigation strategy, value, and cost to ensure her clients’ receive a smooth trial experience. She assists clients with their litigation needs before judges, juries, mediation, trial and appellate court.