Is Your Outdated Office Hindering Law Firm Productivity?

Law firms are constantly buried in paperwork. The sheer amount of paper that a single lawyer can use is substantial: One survey found that individual attorneys use between 20,000 and 100,000 sheets of paper per year on average. Another study has shown that a document gets copied 19 times on average and that workers typically spend between half an hour and two hours a day searching for documents. Paperless workspaces have multiple benefits, both for the environment and for a firm’s bottom line.

1. Increased law firm productivity and efficiency

Chaos and wasted time are byproducts of an office that still depends on paper documents and filing systems. The application support specialists at Legal Workspace report witnessing turmoil surrounding lost files at firms. When you go paperless, that headache ends because everyone knows where documents are stored, and everyone has access to them whether they’re at home, on the road, or in the office.

Collaborating with clients also gets easier because there’s no need to search for and send physical copies of documents—and staff no longer need to spend as much time filing and making and distributing copies to involved parties.

Instead, attorneys and staff can concentrate on getting things done (GTD). Going paperless allows you to follow David Allen’s GTD system without impediments:

a. Capture your tasks and responsibilities: Creating an electronic to-do list gives you the freedom to achieve your goals from anywhere.
b. Clarify the steps it will take to achieve your goals: Breaking down your goals into attainable and discrete steps increases your productivity.
c. Organize and prioritize: Knowing what you must do when—and knowing where the tools are to get your work done—are key to productivity.
d. Reflect on your tasks and goals: Reorganizing and updating priorities is easily done electronically.
e. Engage: Getting things done is all about ticking off boxes so you have the time to concentrate on the more creative and engaging aspects of your work.

2. Workflow automation

Simplify, systematize, and promote efficiency with workflow automation. A paperless office makes taking advantage of the benefits of workflow automation that much easier because all an office’s important documents are stored in one place, rather than multiple copies scattered across the office.
The team that needs the file knows exactly where it is, and everyone can access it on all their devices. Then, workflows can be set up that automatically create new tasks once another task has been accomplished.

Once a firm locks down the basics of using workflow automation, they can begin to implement delegation systems in their practice management software or apply a document management system.

3. Integrate applications

Having a paperless office allows law firms to take advantage of other technologies. For example, you can now store documents in your practice management application or document management application. Integrating these applications helps with efficiency and workflow, too: When you use a practice management application, documents can be organized and connected with your firm’s cases.

And, if you use Legal Workspace, which hosts all the software applications you need to run your firm on the cloud, your attorneys will all have access to those applications (and those documents) on any of their devices, anywhere they want to use them.

4. More space, more money, more time

It’s probable that going paperless will have positive effects on your law firm’s bottom line. If you’re not storing and filing physical copies of paper, you don’t need all that extra equipment and space. That translates to reduced budgets for things like paper, copy machines, filing cabinets—and maybe even a decrease in rent.

5. Going Green

Of course, one consequence of going paperless is a reduced environmental footprint. If you eliminate the usage of one ton of paper (about 200,000 sheets), you save 17 trees. As more corporations are reducing their environmental impact they expect their law firms to do the same.

Tech leaps, no worries

Technology around paperless solutions has grown rapidly over the last few years, and with that growth has come improved security and convenience. Legal Workspace has redundancy built into every security measure, which means that its clients’ data is constantly being monitored and protected.

As most other industries adopt paperless systems, law firms can feel comfortable following suit and selecting a cloud-based platform like Legal Workspace to help them access and manage their applications.

Guest Blog: Virtual Office vs. Office Rental

Virtual Office vs. Office Rental: Know the Pros & Cons for Your Law Practice


If you are debating using a virtual office or office rental for your small firm or solo law practice, this information will help you make the best decision for your firm. Having the right type of work space for your practice is vital for the development and growth of your firm. Virtual offices and office rentals are two of the most popular work space solutions for small firm attorneys. Each has pros and cons depending on your situation and practice area.


What is a virtual office?

A virtual office is an unbundled office rental arrangement where you can get the business presence of a traditional law office without having to pay for expensive office space.

A virtual office gives you access to the resources of a traditional office, such as an address to receive mail, a physical location to meet clients, conference rooms, receptionist and admin services, and temporary office space.

The difference is you only pay for services when you need them. Virtual offices are often sold in “packages” starting at about $100 per month, with higher priced packages including more services at a discounted rate.

Attorneys using a legal virtual office work primarily from another location, which can be the attorney’s home office or a law office in a different city.


An office rental is slightly different.

Small firm lawyers and solos – especially in high-rent cities like New York, Miami or Los Angeles —  typically rent an extra office from another law firm, or get office space from a shared office space provider.

Most “shared office” situations have similar amenities, such as access to conference rooms, printing, filing, a receptionist to greet your clients and call answering services.

The key difference between an office rental and a virtual office is cost. With the former, you are paying a higher rate for the unlimited use of the office space, whereas a virtual office, you pay for office services as you need them but at a higher per-transaction cost.

But with an office rental, a security deposit will be required, and chances are you will have to make a longer term commitment to get a favorable rate. Depending on the space you choose, you may need to purchase furnishings or equipment. It can get expensive pretty fast.


The big negative of a virtual office: lawyers earn 30% less

A big pro of a virtual office is the freedom to work from wherever and whenever you want without feeling guilty about paying rent for an office rental that you may not use every day.

Plus it’s cheap to get started. Most times no security deposit is required, and the contracts are month-to-month. For $100 a month, you can use an office address in a premium location that you may not be able to afford if you had to rent an office space.

But a major con with a virtual office is that lawyers miss out on easy opportunities to collaborate and share referrals with other attorneys that a lawyer with an office rental in a shared legal suite would  get regularly.

Statistics show that this can have a major negative impact on revenues. Several studies have found that lawyers who use a virtual office earn at least 30% less than their peers in shared law office space.

But if a virtual office is appealing to you, there are ways you can mitigate this problem. The key is finding a virtual office provider that emphasizes community and networking, and then making the most out of those opportunities.


Virtual office may not be the best fit for new solos

While the low cost of a virtual office may be tempting, lawyers starting a new solo practice may put themselves on a faster path to success by spending a little extra on an office rental in a shared law suite.

New York matrimonial lawyer Joleena Louis has a unique perspective on this subject. Louis started her solo law practice in an office rental. But when her personal financial situation changed suddenly, she moved her practice to a virtual office.

“A huge benefit of an office rental is the ability to meet other people, says Louis. “The act of going to an office everyday forced me to get dressed up and be sociable.”

Early in her solo practice, Louis got several client referrals from the other attorneys in her shared law office space.  “Those are clients I would not have gotten without being in that office,” says Louis. “Plus, it’s great to have other attorneys around to ask questions, collaborate on cases or just talk shop.”

According to Louis, “ I don’t think my practice would have been as successful had I not started with an office rental. I miss having my office and the people who worked around me, but right now, the flexibility a virtual office affords fits better with my current lifestyle.”


But you can still make a virtual office work

Solo attorney and JDBlogger author/podcaster John Skiba started a law firm…twice. The first time only 18 months out of law school, and the second time a few years after merging his practice into another practice and realizing firm life wasn’t for him.

The second time Skiba started a firm, he started in a virtual office and transitioned into an law office rental once his practice could support it. “I operated out of a home office with three ‘virtual’ offices where I could meet clients,” says Skiba. “This reduced my monthly overhead tremendously.”

Lower expenses freed up cash for other things that grew Skiba’s practice faster, like marketing and a hiring a paralegal. Skiba was able to moved into an office rental within two years of starting his firm.

The right type of office space is different for each lawyer, but knowing the differences between the two options, as well as the pros and cons, you will be better prepared to make the right decision for your practice.

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About Stephen Furnari

Stephen Furnari is a self-employed corporate attorney and the founder of Law Firm Suites, a coworking space for law firms based in New York City. Through Law Firm Suites, Furnari has helped dozens of attorneys launch and grow successful law practices. He is the author of several eBooks, including “7 Deadly Mistakes that Prevent Law Practice Success” and “An Insider’s Guide to Renting the Perfect Law Office”. Stephen has been featured in the ABA Journal,Entrepreneur, New York Daily News and Crain’s New York. Connect with Stephen on Twitter (@stephenfurnari) or Google+.

How to Centralize and Simplify Satellite Office IT for Law Firms

Law firms take on new shapes as they grow. One might become a regional powerhouse with two or more offices; another might act as an umbrella for a consortium of small offices located near to one another.

Regardless of the shape a growing law firm takes, firms with more than one location (or satellite offices) need to take on ever more complex technological solutions to manage and secure data.

The engineering team at Legal Workspace says that a law firm with satellite offices faces many of the same challenges as a firm concerned with optimizing mobility. Those firms will encounter issues around architecture and infrastructure.

Many of these types of firms opt to install their own infrastructure, using servers and Wide Area Networks that allow remote offices to access data—but even carefully constructed and well-maintained systems will run into difficulties, most of which revolve around performance, collaboration, and cost issues.

Improve Productivity by Enhancing Performance

When a firm operates from its own servers, there are any number of performance issues that could arise, including defective components, power problems, bottlenecks, software licensing surprises, and network and security issues.

Most of these firms need to work with an IT consultant or add a staff member to troubleshoot problems and maintain the system. Issues that might appear could be based on “age, equipment, or abuse,” according to Legal Workspace experts.

If performance issues are severe enough, they waste time and resources. And, if they interfere with productivity on a regular basis, it might be time to switch to a solution that is maintained continually by legal IT experts.

Because the specific needs of law firms are the foremost objective at Legal Workspace, its engineers can design a solution that allows users to be relieved of performance problems.

Streamline Workflow with Document Collaboration

When numerous people collaborate on the same documents, it’s important that they don’t waste time updating different or duplicated versions. If the same data is saved in multiple locations—or if someone has to go to a certain shared drive for information of one kind, and another server for information of another kind—confusion and mistakes are bound to happen. Now, with the most recent version of SharePoint we even have the ability for attorneys to work on a document at the same time.

The engineers at Legal Workspace help many law firms with satellite offices maintain a collaborative infrastructure—a central depository of applications and data, or a shared location—in order to diminish the likelihood of lost productivity from collaborative, but keeping a collaborative infrastructure in place gets expensive.

Making the transition from supporting a local technology infrastructure to a virtual cloud-based solution IT management is well worth it. The complexity of the transition is situational, but Legal Workspace makes planning a priority to get everything consolidated in one location where everyone can find everything easily.

Reduce On-Site IT Infrastructure Costs

Let’s say a firm has two major locations. The infrastructure might be set up in any number of ways. For example, there could be a server at each location, or a server in one location that the other location remotes into via an MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) tunnel. MPLS tunnels are devoted high bandwidth tunnels that run between offices to keep data synced.

But those tunnels are expensive: Depending on the amount of bandwidth you need, it could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, which adds up quickly.

Law firms experiencing rapid growth benefit from a cloud-based IT solution, like the one provided by Legal Workspace, because adding local servers makes growth more complicated. With each new office added, more equipment and software licenses need to be purchased; whereas, with our cloud workspace, all a firm needs to do is add users.

And, regardless of the way in which a law office might build its infrastructure, data backup remains the most important factor. Accidents, glitches, and equipment failure happen, but they don’t need to interrupt business with the right cloud based IT infrastructure. Legal Workspace backs up its clients’ data in real time and to a second data center.

A cloud-based solution that works

Should a law firm decide that performance, collaboration, or expense issues are interfering with its ability to do business, a Legal Workspace solution could streamline workflow and simplify the way its workers interact with technology and information.