Virtual law firms have seen a rise in popularity over the last several years. But, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a bigger boost in the demand for virtual legal professionals.

Will virtual firms become the “new normal” for the legal industry? Perhaps. Multiple firms across the country are seeing the benefits, as they’re able to hire and work with top attorneys with different areas of expertise. Clients can benefit, too. If a client needs an attorney specializing in a particular type of law, a quick search within a virtual law form can connect them with the expert legal advice they need.

But, as with any other type of virtual service, there are some potential drawbacks to virtual legal help. One of the biggest challenges is communication. Law firms need to adapt to improve client satisfaction remotely, and that’s often easier said than done.

But, it’s not impossible.

Whether you’re part of a larger firm or run your own, understanding how to improve communication with your clients will make a big difference in your success and trustworthiness. Let’s look at a few strategies that put communication at the forefront of your client-attorney relationship, even if you never meet each other in person.

Digitize Your Documentation

Ways Virtual Law Firms Can Improve

One of the best things you can do to improve your client communication is to stay organized. In addition to working with clients virtually, many attorneys are shifting their documents to cloud-based services. It’s a great way to “go green” and keep important files in one convenient location.

But, like any other filing system, it’s crucial to have some kind of organizational operation in place. Keeping things organized will make it easier to find information on your clients for meetings, or when they call or e-mail to ask a question. It will also make it easier to present information to your clients digitally, in an easy-to-understand format that will make communication stronger for both of you. Plus, staying organized will help you to avoid information silos and miscommunication within your firm.

Consider digitizing your documents through PDFs and creating a virtual library for all client documentation. You can store digital files by case numbers, last names, or however you see fit. In a matter of seconds, you’ll be able to search for files and pull them up, rather than scrambling for information at the last minute before your next virtual meeting.

If you create a cloud-based library, you can also choose to have it password protected. This allows you to directly share all files and information about a client’s case with them, so they can see changes and additions in real-time. It’s a small gesture, but when your client feels well-informed and updated, they’re more likely to trust the process.

Additionally, multi-factor authentication (MFA) or, at the very least, two-factor authentication (2FA) is advised. If your password is considered one form of authenticating or verifying your identity, then another form might be a text message or an email with an additional log-in code, or even the last four digits of your SSN. By protecting your clients’ documents with more than one form of authentication, you’re doing more than the bare minimum — consider MFA for all your clients’ files and data to keep them truly secure.

Set Up Multiple Communication Avenues

No matter how many clients you have, it’s important to make each one feel comfortable and heard. Not everyone will want to talk on the phone, so consider offering several virtual communication options, including:

  • One-on-one video chats
  • Email
  • Instant messaging
  • Conference calls

You can even host live streams within your office when you have to meet with more than one person. Live streaming is a great way to communicate a lot of information at once, especially when you’re working with multiple attorneys or your client wants other individuals involved. If you decide to go that route (or do any video conferencing, for that matter), it’s crucial to have the right setup. Choose your live streaming space carefully in a low-traffic area, especially if you’re working from home. Your background should be clean and free from distractions, but it’s never a bad idea to have your degrees hanging behind you.

It’s also okay to add a touch of personality to every avenue you offer. Whether you’re chatting on the phone or hosting a video conference call, be yourself. Have a few personal items in the background of your video, or connect with your client by finding a few interests you have in common. While remaining professional should be your top priority, your client will feel more comfortable and willing to open up if they see the actual person behind the attorney title.

Invest in the Right Software

With many firms across the country going virtual, keeping up with communication efforts will ensure you stay competitive. Consider developing your own online portal for clients. This has become increasingly popular in the healthcare industry for doctors and patients, but it can work just as well for attorneys. A digital portal will give your clients full access to the information they need, and they can set up meetings with you directly.

If you don’t want to build your own online portal, there are plenty of existing companies that have developed communication software. Practice management software like Clio, Practice Panther, and Smokeball can assist with things like:

  • Document management
  • Billing assistance
  • Scheduling
  • Case management

The more secure your clients feel when utilizing your virtual services, the better. Strong communication will help with that, so don’t be afraid to invest your time, money, and resources into improving your communication efforts. Virtual law firms are here to stay, and yours can continue to grow if you focus on building professional relationships with your clients, even if you’re in completely different time zones.

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