Law Practice Management Asked and Answered Blog

Category: Law Firm Competitive Strategy

Feb 17, 2011

Starting a Virtual Online Practice


I am a partner with an 8 attorney firm in central Illinois. Last week I attended the Illinois State Bar Association web-cast that you and others presented on Building and Managing the Virtual Law Firm. I thought the program was excellent. I do have a couple of questions.

  1. I can see how such an approach might make sense for a solo – but why would a 8 attorney firm with a brick and mortar office that has been in practice for 20 years consider such a delivery model?
  2. How would we go about it?


If your firm has a sufficient volume of work, does not have a need or desire to capture more commodity type legal work that it is either not doing at all now or is losing to lower priced competitors (law firms or content providers), or does not have a need or desire to extend its reach geographically a virtual delivery model make not make sense. However, if your strategic (business plan) requires you to extend your geographic reach or be competitive in a commodity practice area supplementing your brick and mortar practice with a virtual delivery model might warrant consideration.  Also consider that the younger generation that is growing up using the internet to shop, bank, and pay taxes may appreciate and or expect such an option. As we mentioned during the session certain practice areas are more appropriate than others. I have some firms your size that are supplementing their brick and mortar practices with on-line delivery models just to service one practice area that they could not effectively deliver in the traditional manner. Keep in mind the value curve that we discussed during the session.

During the session I illustrated a continuum and we discussed the difference between virtual practices (doing virtual things) and a total on-line virtual practice. Even if you decide that the firm is not ready for a total on-line virtual practice, you may want to consider doing some of the virtual practices (virtual things) that we discussed to offer your clients more delivery options and more flexibility to your attorneys and staff.

Start with your strategic plan and if you don’t have one begin developing your long range plan. If you want to move in this direction you can use my handout as a resource guide.

Click here for our blog on law firm strategy

Click here for my article on creating strategic (business) plans.


John W. Olmstead, MBA, Ph.D, CMC

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