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Virtual Law Practice and
Future Online Delivery Methods


presented by


Stephanie Kimbro, M.A., J.D.
Attorney, Kimbro Legal Services, LLC
Technology Consultant, Total Attorneys


CALI - Topics in Digital Law Practice
February 10, 2012
There is a growing
                                online market for
                                legal services.

 Online companies such as Legal Zoom, when
  available for specific areas of law, are being turned
  to by the public who may otherwise have consulted
  with a lawyer.
              In July 2011 - one month alone - an
              estimated 434,000 people in the US
              searched online seeking legal solutions
              through the Legal Zoom website.
Customer service has changed.

THEN             All law firms must make CUSTOMER
                 SERVICE a part of delivering quality
                 legal services.



                                  NOW
Good Customer Service =
                 Communicating and being accessible using methods that
                 are currently embraced and relied upon by clients.
They are used to using social media with friends and family online.
The public conducts
   the following tasks online:

                           Shop
                           Sell
                           Bank
                           Invest
                           Trade
                           Pay Taxes
                           E-file
                           Obtain degrees
                           Work
Here come the
“Digital Natives”.
Virtual Law Practice
 A virtual law office is a professional law practice that is
  located online through a secure portal and is accessible to
  both the client and the attorney anywhere the parties may
  access the Internet.

 Depends on Cloud Computing, SaaS



           Username:
            Password:
                                           LOGIN
How Attorneys Use Virtual Law Offices
 Completely Web-based
    Unbundled or limited legal services


 Integrated into a traditional law office
    Unbundled and full-service
Unbundling Legal Services
 Break out tasks associated with a legal matter and provide the
  client with only specific portions of the legal work

 Clearly define for online client the nature and scope of
  unbundled legal services – what will and will NOT be covered

 Provide comparisons/education for the client to make an
  informed judgment


 ABA Model Rule 1.2(c) “A lawyer may
  limit the scope of the representation
  if the limitation is reasonable under
  the circumstances.
Sample Unbundled Services
   Ghostwriting
   Drafting pleadings, briefs, declarations or orders
   Document review
   Conducting legal research
   Negotiating
   Making limited appearances
   Advising on court procedures and courtroom behavior
   Coaching on strategy or role playing
   Preparing exhibits
   Organizing discovery materials
   Drafting contracts and agreements
   Providing legal guidance or opinions
   Providing direction to resources such as local and state rules
   “Collaborative lawyering”
Online Case & Client Management
 Clients have access to their own online case files with
  limited control
 Backend online law office with case and client
  management
 Other law practice management tools
Traditional Firm w/Virtual Law Office
Multijurisdictional Virtual Law Firm
Virtual Law Office - Home Office
Ethics Issues: Two Step-Process
 Choosing the Technology and Researching the
  Provider

The Attorney’s Daily Use of
the Technology to Deliver
Legal Services Online
Due Diligence & Reasonable Care
 Model Rule 1.6(a), "Confidentiality of Information“
    Comment 17 provides that lawyers must “act
     competently” to safeguard confidential information and
     prevent it from going to unintended recipients during the
     transmission.


   Most State Bars’ Rules of Professional
    Responsibility have the “reasonable care”
    standard.
     Conduct due diligence in researching both the
       provider and the technology application.
Research the SaaS Provider & Review the SLA
  Confidentiality of law office data
     Who has access?
     Government and civil search and seizure actions
     Breach of confidentiality – unlimited liability for data
      breaches?
Research the SaaS Provider & Review the SLA
 Data return and retention policies
    Transferring Data/Compatibility Issues
 Backups
    Export features and/or offline versions of the software
 Third-party hosting
    Server locations and geo-redundancy
 Response time/customer service and tech support
 Costs – Subscriptions, what is included
 History of the company
    Financial history or funding of company
 Current user reviews
 Infrastructure to support growth
 Membership in LCCA and/or ILTSO compliant
For Guidance
 ILTSO Standards (April 2011): www.iltso.org
 eLawyering Task Force Guidelines (2011)
 Law Society of British Columbia’s Working Group
  Report on Cloud Computing (Summer 2011)
 Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA)
Ethics Considerations
   UPL
   Residency Requirements or Bona Fide Office Rules
   Establishing the Online Attorney/Client Relationship
   Defining the Scope of Online Representation
   Conflict of Interest
   Conflict of Laws
   Authentication of Online Client’s Identity
   Competency
   Confidentiality of client data in lawyer’s use of mobile devices
   Using Internet Tools to Build an Online Client Base
   Online Payments
Minimize Risk
 It is the responsibility of the virtual attorney to:
    Make the determination on a case by case basis:
      o Can I competently handle this legal matter online or
        does it require in-person representation?

                            Understand the technology and
            the             security risks

                            Implement daily best practices for
            use of the      technology
Emerging Forms of Online Legal Service Delivery

   Web Calculators
   Web Advisors
   Legal Crowdsourcing
   Franchised law firms
   Branded network legal services companies
   Online dispute resolution (ODR)
   Collaborating with branded networks to deliver unbundled
    services online

        Future Online Delivery Methods Depend on
                Disaggregated Legal Services
Branded Network Concept
Future innovations in the delivery of
legal services will include more applications to
allow the public
              to directly interact
with their attorney online.

Where are you?
 How will your firm integrate virtual
  law practice into practice management?
 Will you unbundle legal services online?
 Will you provide secure online client access for in-person
  clients?
 Will you cultivate an entirely online client base?
Contact Me
Stephanie Kimbro
Attorney, Kimbro Legal Services, LLC
Technology Consultant, Total Attorneys

 Virtual Law Practice Blog: www.virtuallawpractice.org
 Virtual Law Office: www.kimbrolaw.com
 Twitter: @StephKimbro

 BOOKS:
   Virtual Law Practice: How to Deliver Legal Services Online,
  ABA/LPM (2010)
  Limited Scope Legal Services: Unbundling and the Self-Help
  Client, ABA/LPM,March 2012

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Digital Law Practice - CALI Session

  • 1. Virtual Law Practice and Future Online Delivery Methods presented by Stephanie Kimbro, M.A., J.D. Attorney, Kimbro Legal Services, LLC Technology Consultant, Total Attorneys CALI - Topics in Digital Law Practice February 10, 2012
  • 2. There is a growing online market for legal services.  Online companies such as Legal Zoom, when available for specific areas of law, are being turned to by the public who may otherwise have consulted with a lawyer. In July 2011 - one month alone - an estimated 434,000 people in the US searched online seeking legal solutions through the Legal Zoom website.
  • 3. Customer service has changed. THEN All law firms must make CUSTOMER SERVICE a part of delivering quality legal services. NOW
  • 4. Good Customer Service = Communicating and being accessible using methods that are currently embraced and relied upon by clients. They are used to using social media with friends and family online.
  • 5. The public conducts the following tasks online: Shop Sell Bank Invest Trade Pay Taxes E-file Obtain degrees Work
  • 7. Virtual Law Practice  A virtual law office is a professional law practice that is located online through a secure portal and is accessible to both the client and the attorney anywhere the parties may access the Internet.  Depends on Cloud Computing, SaaS Username: Password: LOGIN
  • 8. How Attorneys Use Virtual Law Offices  Completely Web-based  Unbundled or limited legal services  Integrated into a traditional law office  Unbundled and full-service
  • 9. Unbundling Legal Services  Break out tasks associated with a legal matter and provide the client with only specific portions of the legal work  Clearly define for online client the nature and scope of unbundled legal services – what will and will NOT be covered  Provide comparisons/education for the client to make an informed judgment  ABA Model Rule 1.2(c) “A lawyer may limit the scope of the representation if the limitation is reasonable under the circumstances.
  • 10. Sample Unbundled Services  Ghostwriting  Drafting pleadings, briefs, declarations or orders  Document review  Conducting legal research  Negotiating  Making limited appearances  Advising on court procedures and courtroom behavior  Coaching on strategy or role playing  Preparing exhibits  Organizing discovery materials  Drafting contracts and agreements  Providing legal guidance or opinions  Providing direction to resources such as local and state rules  “Collaborative lawyering”
  • 11. Online Case & Client Management  Clients have access to their own online case files with limited control  Backend online law office with case and client management  Other law practice management tools
  • 12.
  • 15. Virtual Law Office - Home Office
  • 16.
  • 17.
  • 18. Ethics Issues: Two Step-Process  Choosing the Technology and Researching the Provider The Attorney’s Daily Use of the Technology to Deliver Legal Services Online
  • 19. Due Diligence & Reasonable Care  Model Rule 1.6(a), "Confidentiality of Information“  Comment 17 provides that lawyers must “act competently” to safeguard confidential information and prevent it from going to unintended recipients during the transmission. Most State Bars’ Rules of Professional Responsibility have the “reasonable care” standard. Conduct due diligence in researching both the provider and the technology application.
  • 20. Research the SaaS Provider & Review the SLA  Confidentiality of law office data  Who has access?  Government and civil search and seizure actions  Breach of confidentiality – unlimited liability for data breaches?
  • 21. Research the SaaS Provider & Review the SLA  Data return and retention policies  Transferring Data/Compatibility Issues  Backups  Export features and/or offline versions of the software  Third-party hosting  Server locations and geo-redundancy  Response time/customer service and tech support  Costs – Subscriptions, what is included  History of the company  Financial history or funding of company  Current user reviews  Infrastructure to support growth  Membership in LCCA and/or ILTSO compliant
  • 22. For Guidance  ILTSO Standards (April 2011): www.iltso.org  eLawyering Task Force Guidelines (2011)  Law Society of British Columbia’s Working Group Report on Cloud Computing (Summer 2011)  Legal Cloud Computing Association (LCCA)
  • 23. Ethics Considerations  UPL  Residency Requirements or Bona Fide Office Rules  Establishing the Online Attorney/Client Relationship  Defining the Scope of Online Representation  Conflict of Interest  Conflict of Laws  Authentication of Online Client’s Identity  Competency  Confidentiality of client data in lawyer’s use of mobile devices  Using Internet Tools to Build an Online Client Base  Online Payments
  • 24. Minimize Risk  It is the responsibility of the virtual attorney to:  Make the determination on a case by case basis: o Can I competently handle this legal matter online or does it require in-person representation? Understand the technology and the security risks Implement daily best practices for use of the technology
  • 25. Emerging Forms of Online Legal Service Delivery  Web Calculators  Web Advisors  Legal Crowdsourcing  Franchised law firms  Branded network legal services companies  Online dispute resolution (ODR)  Collaborating with branded networks to deliver unbundled services online Future Online Delivery Methods Depend on Disaggregated Legal Services
  • 26.
  • 28.
  • 29.
  • 30.
  • 31. Future innovations in the delivery of legal services will include more applications to allow the public to directly interact with their attorney online. Where are you?  How will your firm integrate virtual law practice into practice management?  Will you unbundle legal services online?  Will you provide secure online client access for in-person clients?  Will you cultivate an entirely online client base?
  • 32. Contact Me Stephanie Kimbro Attorney, Kimbro Legal Services, LLC Technology Consultant, Total Attorneys  Virtual Law Practice Blog: www.virtuallawpractice.org  Virtual Law Office: www.kimbrolaw.com  Twitter: @StephKimbro  BOOKS: Virtual Law Practice: How to Deliver Legal Services Online, ABA/LPM (2010) Limited Scope Legal Services: Unbundling and the Self-Help Client, ABA/LPM,March 2012