The Rise of Virtual Law Firms: Allowing Firms to More Easily Expand Internationally

The Rise of Virtual Law Firms: Allowing Firms to More Easily Expand Internationally

Amber Kraemer, MJIL Executive Editor

Amber Kraemer PhotoThe legal market is constantly changing and evolving. Client expectations and technology are two of the biggest considerations. Clients used to have loyalty to the same firm or attorneys. Whereas today, cost has become a distinguishing factor, there is constant pressure on attorneys to provide more services at a lower cost to clients. Years ago the thought that there would be law firms that did not prioritize face to face interaction of lawyers and clients would have been unheard of, but today virtual interaction of clients and attorneys is utilized for many different purposes and many different practices.

A virtual law firm is considered a non-traditional arrangement and is generally thought of as “a group of lawyers who have a common practice . . . although they do not share a common space”.[1] “Virtual law firms provide sophisticated services” and serve real clients.[2] They are a growing phenomenon because they promise flexibility, mobility and potential for lower cost. Many large firms utilize this structure as a way to both allow attorneys more flexibility of their working environment but also allows firms to connect with clients all over the globe.

Technology is constantly changing and providing new means to effectively meet clients’ needs. With increasingly sophisticated technology the possibilities for law firms to evolve and adapt to the changing circumstances are endless.[3] Law firms can continue to take advantage of the virtual option to increase their client base and further serve the needs of clients. If a large client opens up an office in another state or even country, connecting with an attorney in that location and facilitating their association with the firm has become much easier than ever before.[4] Law firms operating under the virtual model also have the ability to more seamlessly incorporate attorneys in other places thus allowing them to add attorneys internationally that can help them to reach a broader client base.

The continued expansion of the virtual law practice and development of systems like cloud based computing, secure client portals and sophisticated online interaction platforms allow law firms to expand their practice into other locations more easily.[5] The virtual law practice is on the rise and here to stay,[6] firms can continue to use it as a means to expand their practice globally with little additional overhead cost.

[1] Michael Downey, Introduction to Law Firm Practice (2010).

[2] Chad E. Burton, The Virtual Law Firm, 87 N.Y. St. B.J. 48, 48 (Jan. 2015).

[3] See, e.g., Kevin Crews, The Door to a Virtual Law Practice is Always Open: And the Proper Use of Technology Can Keep it that Way, 88 Fla. B.J.  84, 84 (2014).

[4] See Chad E. Burton, Virtual Law Firms: The Next Iteration, Am Bar Ass’n (July 2013),

[5] See, e.g., Joshua Poje, Virtual Law Practice, Am. Bar Ass’n Techreport (2014),

[6] See Crews, supra note 3.