New Take on the 'Virtual' Law Firm
Since the early days of the Internet, we've heard about law firms going virtual. Nowadays, some lawyers are taking that to the extreme, setting up practices in the virtual world of Second Life, as Stevan Lieberman did. More commonly, though, a virtual firm represents an attempt to bring the economies of technology to the bricks-and-mortar world. That seems to be the goal of the latest firm to dub itself virtual, Pennsylvania's Delta Law Group, whose Web address is makinglaweasy.com.
In a profile of the firm published today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, writer Joyce Gannon describes Delta as "one of a small, but emerging group of 'virtual' law firms that wants to conduct most of its business on-line," marketing itself as a lower-cost, no-frills alternative to traditional firms. The firm's Web site describes it this way: "We are not a traditional medium or large law firm with a large staff of secretaries and assistants. We do not have large files filled with paper documents. All of our files are electronic and we run a paperless firm."
Virtual though it may be in spirit, the firm lists four separate office locations in the greater Pittsburgh area and says its lawyers will meet with clients in any private location where there is wireless Internet access. As it turns out, the distinguishing factor for this virtual firm is not so much its approach to law practice as to law-practice management. The article describes the firm's co-founders, Karl Schieneman and Brian Walters, as more administrators than practitioners:
At Delta, both partners are lawyers but they mainly focus on the administrative operations of the business rather than the actual legal proceedings. For that, they rely on a network of about 20 lawyers throughout the Pittsburgh region, most of whom are specialists and solo practitioners.
'We give them neat tools and technology and allow them to focus in the areas they really want to focus in,' said Mr. Schieneman. 'We are the initial triage attorneys then we turn to a specialist.'
Among those neat tools: The firm videotapes the first meeting with the client and posts it online, along with all other documents in the case. Clients receive a password to access a protected area of the site, where they can view documents, receive court notices and send messages to their attorney. The Delta site also offers a series of podcasts about legal topics and a public discussion forum.
But Internet savvy, or even Internet access, is not required to become a Delta client, as the FAQ makes clear: "Delta Law Group is just like a typical law firm with a live lawyer who represents you. We can work with you even if you don’t have ready access to the Internet."
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 18, 2008 at 01:22 PM | Permalink
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