Is Virtual Lawyering Right for You?

This paper was created to support a seminar I participated in last week on what might be involved in becoming a virtual lawyer.  Linda Long and I traded off, with her describing her path to becoming virtual and me talking about some of the considerations.  If you’re interested, the Canadian Bar Association hosted the seminar.

I did not approach virtual lawyering from the strict sense most often used by e-lawyering advocates.  So those folks will not agree that my paper has much to do with virtual lawyering.  Instead, I spoke about:

  • whether a lawyer needed physical space and, if not, what the options were;
  • what sort of staffing considerations might arise in using virtual employees, consultants, outsourced services, and the like;
  • the hardware and software impacts, with a very light touch on the use of client-facing portals and extranets;
  • and communications tools.

In other words, I used virtual in a generic sense.  As I note, very few lawyers practice virtually, according to an ABA survey that used a strict definition.  It is likely that many of those lawyers would fall into a broader, practice-focused rather than client-focused defintion of what a virtual practice was.  As Linda touched on in her comments, this focus takes into account the desire that some lawyers have for balancing their work with particular demands in their personal lives.

David Whelan

I improve information access and lead information teams. My books on finding information and managing it and practicing law using cloud computing reflect my interest in information management, technology, law practice, and legal research. I've been a library director in Canada and the US, as well as directing the American Bar Association's Legal Technology Resource Center. I speak and write frequently on information, technology, law library, and law practice issues.