By Christina Vanarelli, Attorney-at-Law, Christina Vanarelli, INC
On, January1, 2014, I took a leap of faith and opened my own solo-practice law firm. Having worked for eight years as an associate attorney at a local firm, I understood that responsiveness to clients is the most important component of success in the legal business. I knew that if I could build an operation that enabled me to be more responsive to my clients than my competition, without compromising my work product, I would succeed.
Taking advantage of the Cloud-based solutions that have become available in recent years,I have established a practice where my clients have significant access to me, and at the same time,I am able to devote the time I need to focus on my cases . For my business, the following three systems are mission critical:
A Cloud-based file storage and management system
I have implemented a paperless law practice with a scanner and a well thought-out file naming system. I can access all of my files from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection. The files are also synced real-time to one computer at my home office and the second computer at my public office, so that I need not have an Internet connection to access these files. These two computers are backed up daily to external hard drives. In addition to the data being stored securely in the cloud I have backups located on four different hard drives in two different locations. Some of the different file storage and management systems are GoogleDrive, Microsoft SkyDrive, DropBox for Business, SugarSync for Business, and Box. Each law firm will need to select the best fit for its particular operation and data security needs. For me, DropBox for Business fits the bill.
A Cloud-based practice management system
Most practice management systems are now available in Cloud versions, including Abacus, Amicus Attorney, MyCase, and Clio. For me, Amicus Attorney Cloud has the features I need, which include billing capabilities, and it has proven to be user-friendly and reliable. I also use Deadlines.com to compliment Amicus Attorney Cloud for making sure I stayon top of statutory deadlines in litigation.
A Cloud-based telephone system
Cloud-based telephone systems have come along way. The call quality is good, the systems are reliable, and these days, any function available on an in-house telephone system is available through a Cloud-based system. My system is configured so that all calls are routed to my office telephone and my cell phone (concurrently). If I do not answer within a specified number of rings, the caller hears a recording of my voice explaining that the caller can leave a voicemail, which will be immediately transcribed and emailed to me. When I receive that email of the transcribed voicemail (on my phone or my tablet),wherever I am, I can email my client to let him know that I received his message and tell him when I will call back. My clients have told me that they appreciate this much more than a secretary or an answering service, because they are getting right to me. In addition, my telephone system stores all incoming voicemails and text messages, and I have access to a call log that has proven to be extremely helpful in making sure I bill the correct amount of time for telephone calls.
Today’s technology has allowed me to build my practice on Cloud-based systems that are reliable, secure, and efficient. Because of this, I can compete with the established law firms in my community, and run a firm with a professional presence, excellent client service, and high- quality work, all with extremely low over head. And the best part about it is that the systems get better overtime, as features are added and the technology evolves, without the need to install software updates or purchase special hardware. I can be in business for myself, without staff, and still have the time to focus on the job I love, practicing law.