How to Work Remotely as a Law Firm

You might be surprised at just how many lawyers now work remotely.

Introduction

Or perhaps not – after the past year when many traditionally office-bound teams around the country have been scattered by the threats of COVID-19 and forced to find alternative ways to be productive.

Many lawyers have been pleasantly surprised by the transition – and have successfully balanced work and home life without getting in the car and driving to the office every day.

Or perhaps not – after the past year when many traditionally office-bound teams around the country have been scattered by the threats of COVID-19 and forced to find alternative ways to be productive.

Many lawyers have been pleasantly surprised by the transition – and have successfully balanced work and home life without getting in the car and driving to the office every day.

They have discovered that they CAN be productive, they CAN serve their clients and they CAN get successful outcomes – while also keeping their families, coworkers, clients, and communities safe. So much so, in fact, that many law firms will hereinafter work in a “hybrid” model.

So much so that many have decided to make the transition long-term or permanent.

Here are some pointers to make the transition from office life to home office life successfully as part of a legal team.

  • Data Encryption In-Transit
  • Data Encryption At-Rest
  • Geographic Data Redundancy
  • Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Secure Architecture (Secure Code)
  • When it’s happening
  • How best to communicate with you
  • How meetings will be conducted
  • How it will affect your availability
  • How it will affect your availability
  • Send an email explaining all of the above and the reasons for the changes.
  • Put a notice on your website explaining the changes (if the office is closing temporarily – when?)
  • Inform people through your social media channels.
  • Put a note on the door of your offices for foot traffic.
  • Although video may seem informal, plan it as if you were conducting an in-person meeting – video is no reason to become “sloppy”.

    Some clients may not mind if you rock up in pajamas and sit out on the balcony, but others will – it’s best to keep it professional at all times.

    No discarded clothing or junk. A blank wall is fine, but clutter looks unprofessional.

    Distractions may be annoying for clients discussing stressful situations and they will expect your complete focus on their issue, so turn off the TV.

    If there is likely to be a distraction during the call (like a child’s noise, for instance) explain it to the client upfront. Most clients will understand but won’t appreciate surprises that seem unprofessional.

    Invest in sound and lighting: make sure that you are well-lit and well-audible during calls by ensuring there is enough illumination above your position and investing in a high-quality headset.

      If you’re working from home and the neighbor is building an extension, it could get noisy for your clients. Mute your microphone when you’re not talking if there is considerable background noise.

      If your clients are elderly individuals (e.g., with estate planning law firms) consider their needs during calls – they may need extra volume, lighting or other provisions to get the most out of the experience.

      Use the links provided by your video provider and arrange automatic invites for clients once meeting dates and times are set.

    • Stick to work hours: all lawyers have days when it’s necessary to work out of hours to complete important casework but try to set and stick to specific work hours so that you know when to “switch off” without feeling guilty.
    • Dress for work: change the clothing you wear when you are “at work” or “at leisure”. This can help you create strong dividing lines between the two.
    • Take a short walk: if you take a short walk before your working day starts and again at the end of the day, you also help to create that dividing line between work and leisure.
    • Designate office space: it goes without saying that you need a space in which to work if you set up for remote legal work – but creating a physical dividing line between where you work and where you relax can also help you (and the family) adjust mentally.
    • Build “unplugged” time into your day: if the phone’s always-on, it’s tempting to respond to client emails even if you’re in the middle of family time. Make it a policy to have an hour or two unplugged from technology and it should help you relax.
    • About the Author: Dennis Dimka
      Dennis Dimka is the CEO and founder of Uptime Legal Systems, North America's leading provider of technology, cloud and marketing services to law firms. Under Dennis’ leadership, Uptime Legal has grown organically and through acquisitions to become the nationally-recognized legal technology company it is today. Uptime Legal continues to innovate and disrupt the legal technology space, and has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private for the past six consecutive years. Dennis was also an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist.

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