10 Tools Attorneys Can Use to Start a Virtual Law Firm & Succeed Online
Jarrett Stone August 20, 2020

The legal profession has been long overdue for a disruption and it’s finally here. 

With the global pandemic forcing lawyers to work from home, law firms are becoming more digital than ever.

And guess what?

Going virtual works.

The legal world continues to spin as lawyers are still signing up cases, still working on cases, and still resolving cases. 

All from the comfort of their homes.

Most importantly, this success is proof that law firms do not need expensive office space.

As a result, office space is being seen as a luxury — not a necessity

This fact is reshaping the legal industry by redefining what the modern-day law firm looks like.

 

Why should you start a virtual law firm?

 

A couple of years ago, starting a law firm would require you to save a lot of money or get a loan from the bank (or both). 

But with a virtual law firm, you’re removing the largest overhead expense — office space. 

In doing so, you can start your own virtual law firm for a whole lot cheaper than you may be thinking!

In fact, I personally spent under $2,000 to start my virtual law firm and spend less than $125 per month to keep things up and running. 

By minimizing my expenses, I also minimize my risk when business slows down.

And when business picks up, I reinvest the money back into the firm so I can maximize growth. As the firm grows, then at some point I can reevaluate whether I need office space. 

But I may never go back to the traditional ways because ditching the daily suits and the office space has been liberating. I can now work where I want and how I want. 

By controlling my days, I control my career. And, for most lawyers, this sort of freedom was not even an option a couple of years ago. 

Thankfully, our industry is changing.

The best part?

My clients love that I’m virtual because it requires me to optimize my law firm for their convenience. 

So while the old-school lawyers are still trying to figure out how to turn on their webcam, let’s cover the tools that will help get your virtual law firm up and running.

 

G Suite
1. GSuite

 

What is it?

 

GSuite is a bundle of Google’s best products. With GSuite, you get Google’s Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Meet, Chat, Drive, and more. 

With these foundational products, you’ll be virtual in no time.

 

How does it work?

 

Google will take you through a questionnaire that will get you set up in a matter of minutes because there is no installation. Instead, you access everything online. 

While setting up your account, you’ll be able to create a custom email with your law firm’s domain name, which will also be your username.

As soon as you’re setup, you’re off to the races. You can start using Google’s products instantly.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

GSuite will immediately put you on the path to being virtual. 

With Google Drive, you can start saving files on Google’s secure cloud storage so that you can access them anywhere. You can also use Google Drive to securely share large files and folders with others.

If you’re ready to start working, then you can use Docs to draft documents, Sheets to crunch numbers, or Forms for an easy way to conduct your client intake. All of which can be shared online.

Needing to talk to a client?

Hop on a video call with Google Meet so you can give your clients the personal touch that they deserve.

Because there’s no installation, you can access your GSuite products from any computer with internet access, which is the key to being virtual.

 

PandaDoc

2. PandaDoc

 

What is it?

 

For our purposes, PandaDoc is a great solution for getting documents signed electronically. 

 

How does it work?

 

After creating your free account with PandaDoc, you’ll be able to access your dashboard. Once there, you simply upload the PDF that you’re needing to be signed.

After the upload, you can easily format the document to require electronic signatures from specific individuals based on their email address. 

To do this, just drag and drop the signature block where you want it. You can then resize the signature block and format it using PandaDoc’s toolbar (it’s super easy!). 

Once you’re done, simply copy a link to the document and send it to the person that needs to sign it.

You’ll then be sent separate emails by PandaDoc notifying you when someone has viewed the document, signed the document, and completed the document.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

Prior to using PandaDoc, I would run into the same problem over and over again.

I would send paperwork to a client that needed their signature and I would wait… for a very long time. 

Most people don’t have a printer at home. Even fewer people have a scanner. 

If people did have a printer or scanner, then most likely neither would work.

As a result, clients were forced to use the printer and scanner at their work, take time to drop off the documents at my old office, or leave the documents at their treating doctor’s office for me to pick up.

It was extremely inefficient.

Fortunately, PandaDoc fixes this problem by allowing people to sign documents from their phone or computer.

What used to take days, now takes minutes.

 

UniTel Voice

3. UniTel Voice

 

What is it?

 

UniTel Voice is a virtual phone system that gives your virtual law firm a traditional feel.

When people call your law firm, you can use UniTel Voice to set up a greeting that professionally introduces your law firm and provides the caller with extensions so their calls can be properly routed. 

UniTel Voice also gives you the ability to send and receive faxes. 

 

How does it work?

 

If you already have a business number, then you can connect that number with UniTel Voice’s system. 

Or, if you need a new number, then UniTel Voice will assist you in selecting a toll free number or a local number in any area code. 

Once you have a number and your account has been created, it’s time to create your virtual phone system!

To do this, you’ll need to set up a greeting (I recommend connecting your headphones to your laptop and using a program like Garageband or Quicktime so you can record higher quality audio), add any extensions, and connect your cell phone.

And that’s it!

It’s extremely simple to get started. And if you’re not very tech-savvy, then don’t worry because Unitel Voice’s customer service is fantastic.

After you set everything up, you’ll be able to use your cell to handle business calls.

 

Why is it awesome? 

 

Using my personal cell number for business seems like a nightmare.

But, I also don’t want to buy a separate cell phone. 

Fortunately, UniTel Voice allows me to have the best of both worlds.

With this virtual phone system, I’m able to use a business number that makes and receives calls from my cell phone (without compromising my personal number).

The best part is that UniTel Voice gives my virtual law firm a very professional feel.

As soon as someone calls my law firm, they will hear this super professional greeting that my wife recorded in about 2 minutes. 

The caller is then given three extensions to choose from. While this also gives a professional feel, I primarily use these three extensions to segment and then prioritize the callers.

The biggest perk?

Mobility!

I’m no longer a slave to the desk phone and can now handle business calls from anywhere.

Plus, I can “unplug” from the office by setting my business calls to automatically go to voicemail at certain times of the day or I can set the Unitel Voice app to “do not disturb.” 

Finally, an added bonus is that UniTel Voice has the ability to virtually send and receive faxes.

Why people still send faxes is beyond me, but it’s still pretty standard in the legal industry.

As a result, being able to send and receive faxes without having an actual fax line is a major convenience because it keeps you virtual.

 

ThriveThemes
4. Thrive Themes

 

What is it?

 

Thrive Themes is an easy-to-use website builder for WordPress. Not only is Thrive Themes designed to get your website up and running in record time, but it’s also optimized for converting traffic into clients. 

 

How does it work?

 

Thrive Themes recently launched its new builder that allows you to build, edit, and customize your entire website with a visual drag-and-drop designer.

To get started, you simply need to go through the step-by-step wizard that will hold your hand while you launch your website in under 15 minutes.

I know it sounds too good to be true, but it’s shockingly easy.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

With a virtual law firm, it’s essential that you have an online presence. 

This begins with having a website.

Before you start worrying about coding or spending money on website gurus, just know that getting a website up and running is easier and cheaper than ever before.

Even if you struggle a bit with computers, Thrive Themes will help you launch your law firm’s website in record time. 

In fact, Thrive Themes even offers video lessons on how to use and maximize their products.

By having 100% control of your website, you can design your website in a way that is tailored to your law firm. In doing so, you can make your website work for you so that it can make your life a whole lot easier. 

One great way to do this is by designing your website to handle a portion of your client intake so that you can automatically filter out bad cases.

This will either save you time from being stuck on the phone with cases that you don’t handle or spare you from having to hire someone to take those calls.

To handle intake, all you need to use is Thrive Themes’ Quiz Builder. With this in place, visitors that land on your website can take a quiz (which you can call a “questionnaire”) to better determine whether you can help them. 

And since you know what kind of cases you’re interested in, you can design the questions of the quiz in a way that notifies the visitor whether they should give you a call. 

As a result, you can start funneling quality cases in your direction and start maximizing your time.

 

UPS

5. UPS’s Business Mailbox

 

What is it?

 

UPS offers business mailboxes that you can use as your law firm’s address. With this, UPS will accept your mail, sign for packages, and give you 24-hour access to your mailbox.

 

How does it work?

 

When you are set up with a business mailbox, you’ll immediately be given a street address that looks extremely professional.

For example, this may be the address of the UPS store:

123 Law Venture Lane

Suite 789

Austin, Texas 78735

Once you have a business mailbox, you can use the mailbox number as your law firm’s address. For instance, if your mailbox number is 212, then your law firm’s address will look like this:

123 Law Venture Lane

Suite 789-212

Austin, Texas 78735

You can then start using your law firm’s address in your letterhead and signature blocks.

Once you start receiving mail, UPS will make sure to put everything in your mailbox or to hold packages for you to pick up.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

The biggest benefit is not needing to use your home address as your law firm’s address.

Plus, if you’re traveling (because that’s what virtual lawyers do, right?), then it’s comforting to know that UPS is taking care of any important letters, checks, and packages that you may be receiving. 

 

PDF Expert

6. PDF Expert

 

What is it?

 

With a virtual law firm, you’ll be using PDFs more than ever. 

So you will need a PDF app that gets the job done without breaking the bank.

Say hello to PDF Expert! 

This is a PDF app that allows you to read, edit, redact, sign, notarize, and bate stamp documents.

And unlike other PDF apps that require an annual subscription, PDF Expert is a one-time payment that is extremely affordable.

 

How does it work?

 

After you purchase and install PDF Expert, you can set PDF Expert to be your default PDF app so that it automatically opens when you click on a PDF document (whew — there were a lot of “PDFs” in this paragraph).

Once you’re set-up, you can get straight to work.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

PDF Expert is equipped with everything you need and will cost you a fraction of the price of subscription-based PDF apps. 

And while your computer’s built-in PDF app may be free, these apps are typically limited.

For example, Mac’s free PDF app, Preview, is unable to redact documents. Even if you use Preview to put a black box on the PDF document and export it as a new PDF file, then people will still be able to copy/paste what the box is hiding.

And when it comes to handling discovery or a large number of documents, free PDF apps have limited search capabilities and cannot bate stamp documents properly. 

On the other hand, PDF Expert has everything you need without hurting your wallet. 

 

zoom

7. Zoom

 

What is it?

 

Video chatting with others is more common than ever. As a result, Zoom has become one of the most recognized video-chat platforms out there.  

 

How does it work?

 

To begin using Zoom, you’ll first need to download the app and then enable your camera and microphone. Once completed, you can start sending out private invitations to your video chat.

Zoom then gives you the ability to share your computer’s screen or to grant access to others so that they can share their screen.

And while you’re using Zoom, you’ll have the ability to video record the entire chat.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

Beyond the fact that Zoom is one of the most popular platforms for video chat, you should strongly consider using Zoom for its ability to screen record.

If you have a virtual hearing with Zoom, then you can record the entire hearing for your own records (just keep in mind that this recording wouldn’t be the official record).

If you have a virtual deposition, you can record the deposition and potentially use video snippets at a hearing or trial.

And if you’re a virtual notary (I highly recommend you become one), then you can record your client’s screen as they digitally sign their documents. This is extremely convenient when you’re needing to quickly formalize a settlement release so the settlement check can be sent your way. 

It’s simple. It’s effective. It’s perfect for virtual lawyers.

 

Chase Bank

8. Chase Bank

 

What is it?

 

Chase Bank is one of the largest banks in the country and a great option for virtual law firms.

 

How does it work?

 

With Chase, you’ll be able to set up checking, savings, and IOLTA accounts for your virtual law firm.

To do this, you will most likely need to go to a Chase location and fill out the necessary paperwork. 

Just be sure to call in advance to make sure that you have everything you need so you don’t end up having to make multiple trips.

After you’re set-up, pat yourself on the back because your law firm’s finances will be mostly virtual from this point forward.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

With Chase, there are some major benefits that will help keep you virtual.

First, Chase is essentially free. 

For me, I don’t pay anything for the checking account because I maintain a minimum balance of $1,500. I also don’t pay anything for the savings account because it is connected to my checking account. With the IOLTA, that is free as well.

Second, Chase uses Zelle, which allows you to send up to $5,000 in a single transaction, up to $5,000 a day, and $40,000 in a month. It’s free, it’s instant, and it allows you to use Zelle with any of your bank accounts — including the IOLTA.

Personally, I send money from the IOLTA to doctors’ Zelle accounts so that doctors can be quickly paid out of a settlement. And I will receive money from another lawyer’s Zelle transfer to the business checking account for cases that I helped out with.

It’s super convenient.

Fourth, you can make mobile deposits up to $10,000 (this saves me a lot of trips to the bank). 

Fifth, Chase does not charge for wire transfers out of the IOLTA account. 

This perk is HUGE. 

Clients love the convenience of electronically receiving money. Especially if some of those clients don’t live in the same city as you. 

By electronically sending them money at no cost and eliminating the worry that their money will get lost in the mail, you’re definitely ending the case on a high note (and that can lead to some awesome reviews!). 

 

Instagram

9. Instagram

 

What is it?

 

As lawyers, we should always focus on personalizing and humanizing our clients so that other people can connect to the client’s story.

But why don’t lawyers personalize themselves?

While major companies are constantly trying to develop their company’s image, lawyers have very little name-recognition to the average person.

In today’s world, a great way to start building a brand like a major company is by utilizing Instagram.

This social-media platform is the modern-day billboard marketing… on STEROIDS. 

Just like a billboard, you can share images and videos on Instagram.

The difference is that Instagram allows you to post a lot of DIFFERENT content that can showcase you as a lawyer and a relatable person.

Would you advertise your law firm with a photo of your dog on a billboard? 

As tempting as it sounds, probably not.

Instead, a law firm’s billboard is going to be limited to something pretty stereotypical. 

But with Instagram, you can post the legal content and also post personal content as well.

By doing this, you’re providing the viewer with more dimensions and depth so that they connect with you as a person. For example, someone may see a photo of your dog, comment on the photo, and spark a conversation about having the same breed.

And it’s that type of connection that will then help them think of you if they ever need a lawyer!

 

How does it work?

 

Simply capture images and videos that represent who you are as a lawyer and a person.

Once you’re done, you’ll want to hop on your phone to use the Instagram app and upload the image or video.

I recommend taking some extra time to write a caption that not only provides context to the content but also engages the audience so that it makes an impression.

Finally, including hashtags will help non-followers see your post.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

As a virtual lawyer, I want to keep my expenses low, which includes my legal marketing. 

As a result, I’ve ditched the traditional marketing that most lawyers use and focus most of my branding on Instagram. 

Because of this strategy, most of my clients have come from Instagram in one way or another.

Again, if you’re going to be a virtual lawyer, then you need to maximize your online presence so posting “digital billboards” is a great way to do that. 

Here’s the kicker… 

I have yet to run ads on Instagram, which means that these clients come from typical Instagram posts and don’t cost me anything.

The key is to try and engage with people on Instagram so you can build a connection.

For example, at some point, I engaged with a doctor’s post (I didn’t know he was a doctor at the time) and he reached out to me so we could connect. We ended up developing a business relationship that quickly turned into a great friendship (he was one of my groomsmen at my wedding!).

So with Instagram, my rule of thumb is always to be a person first and a lawyer second. 

Ironically, if you can bond with people on Instagram without being a lawyer, then you’re much more likely to start growing your virtual law firm’s network and brand.

 

facebook

10. Facebook

 

What is it?

 

Facebook is a social media giant that everyone and their grandmother is familiar with.

For lawyers though, if Instagram is the modern-day billboard, then Facebook is the modern-day TV commercial.

This is because Facebook is a great way to share video content for your law firm, which can get views organically or through paid ads (or both).

Because of its massive audience, you should use Facebook to increase your virtual law firm’s online presence!

 

How does it work?

 

By posting videos on your law firm’s Facebook page, the video should pop up on some of your followers’ feeds.

Unfortunately, Facebook will keep your post relatively suppressed because Facebook wants you to promote your content through paid ads. 

But, if you share the content on your personal page and get others to also share, then your videos can start popping up organically on other people’s feed.

If you want to target the video to a specific location, a specific demographic, or you simply want more people to see it, then you can always promote the video through paid ads.

 

Why is it awesome?

 

Organic posts and paid ads (or both) are all exponentially cheaper on Facebook than paying for a traditional TV commercial.

Unlike a TV commercial, Facebook posts also give you the ability to connect with the people that are interacting with your content. 

And those connections may result in those people sharing the post, following you, and potentially becoming a client (or sending someone your way). 

And as the shares continue, so does your virtual law firm’s presence online!

For example, when I first opened my law firm, I decided to create a fun video to announce the news. In doing so, I definitely didn’t get a million views and go viral.

In fact, it didn’t even surpass 10,000 views on the firm’s Facebook page. 

But that wasn’t the goal.

Instead, the goal was to simply show people my personality, connect with new people, and to get the word out about my new law firm.

The video did just that. 

It surprisingly sent 150+ people to my law firm’s website, organically reached over 4,300 people, and (after running ads for about a week) reached over 16,500 people. 

During this time, I responded to comments, thanked people for sharing, and answered any questions that were sent via private message.

In other words, I made connections and accomplished my goal — with a single video on Facebook.

If you can use the social-media giant to your favor, then Facebook will definitely help you establish a brand and increase the presence of your virtual law firm!

 

Ready to start a virtual law firm?

 

With these tools in hand, going virtual has never been more appealing for lawyers. You can limit your expenses, limit your risks, and maximize your law firm’s growth. 

And, most importantly, you can control your own legal career from wherever your virtual law firm takes you.

 

 

ebook cta

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the blog series Start Your Business brought to you by the marketing team at UniTel Voice, the virtual phone system priced and designed for startups and small business owners, and Law Venture, bringing entrepreneurship to lawyers.

Jarrett Stone
Jarrett Stone Founder of Law Venture

Jarrett Stone is the owner of Stone Firm, PLLC, and founder of Law Venture. As a lawyer, entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed nerd, he’s devoted to using his skills to help others.

Share