Legal trends

Home Sweet Home Office: How Legal Professionals Can Stay Productive and Professional

When the Legal Profession Meets the Home Office

Before the pandemic, when attorneys worked from home, it was… unusual. Today, attorneys working at least part-time at home is no big deal. Still, in order to keep work hours professional, attorneys need to consider their work environment.

Face-to-face client meetings are replaced by video chat. Software is in the cloud and you no longer need a VPN server to access your files. Your co-workers are available via email/text/Slack. It’s a free for all.

LeanLaw has several law practice clients who have no in-person interactions. The practice areas vary from IP law to contingency to transactional – and everything in between. No one needs an office anymore – conference rooms for in-person depositions can be rented by the hour.

Technology for lawyers: First, the hardware

Laptops for Attorneys

The most important piece of equipment that you need as an attorney to work from home is a laptop. Doesn’t have to be the fanciest laptop ever. In fact, LeanLaw has a guide to laptops for lawyers.

2023 Buying Guide to Best Laptops to Buy for Your Law Firm

Phone / Tablet

How old is your phone? Are you able to use it in a pinch if you’re not near your laptop? A tablet might also be useful, but it would rank third, after laptop and up-to-date phone.

Web Camera

Another important consideration is a web camera. Most laptops now have built-in cameras, but if yours doesn’t, you can easily buy a webcam. Here are a few options.

  1. Logitech C920S HD Pro Webcam – Best Overall
  2. Logitech Brio 4K Pro – Best Image Quality
  3. Logitech C310 – Best Budget Camera

Scanner

Lastly, and this sounds old school: do you have a working scanner? Not all of the people you work with — other attorneys, clients — will be sending you electronic files and other client information. Ultimately, you will want these files to become digital and you can do that yourself with a simple scanner. The Fujitsu Scansnap iX500 is awesome.

Connectivity, or How’s Your In-House Internet?

If you operate on clunky VPN, with frequent timeouts, precarious printing status and stress on your servers, you understand that eventually, you will be engaging cloud-based services.

Is your internet connection robust enough to connect with video conferencing? When was the last time you called your home Internet provider to look at their offerings? Many times, clients don’t call for years and find out that they are overpaying for legacy services. You can correct this issue today – and you might end up saving money with a faster speed connection for a lower cost. We see it happen.

Call your internet provider twice a year (put it in your calendar), so that you can stay up to date with their offerings.

eBook: Law Firm Software Buyers’ Guide

Foundational Law Practice Software

Both MS365 and Google Workspace are robust solutions for the practice of law at home — and in the office. Both options are secure, especially if you adopt strong best practices:

  • email
  • document management
  • conference calls
  • calendaring
  • meeting presentations and more

Top of mind: can you do everything important at home as well as you can at the office? If you have the right tools, this should not be a problem.

Video Communication — Zoom / Google Meet

By now, everyone is learning to use Zoom. But first, you need the webcam (see above) and the fast speed internet connection to make it work. 

Another consideration is: what is behind you when you’re on camera? It must look presentable: it could even be a blank wall, just not your bedroom, or a space where you have no privacy and people are milling in the background. By now, we’ve all heard the story of the person who brought her laptop into the bathroom during a video conference. Don’t let that be you! You can also chat with individual members of your video conference, without including the rest of the group.

Within Zoom, you can also present your screen, so that all parties can look at the same document in real time. 

Zoom also offers recording, so you can memorialize and archive conversations. Zoom will save them for a definite period, but you must save the files on your own drive to make sure they don’t disappear. 

Workspace Communication

Does email cover this task? Have you ever used online collaboration tools like Slack or MS Teams or Meet? The benefit of these kinds of software is that you don’t lose track of versions or miss communications or clog up your email inbox because there is a history of communication and without the formality of email.

You might not give legal advice via these tools, but you can communicate with paralegals, office staff, other attorneys in your office.

Case Study: Law Firm slashed 50% of overhead by outsourcing outdated legacy accounting

Phone Calls

Since you’re no longer at work, have you considered either forwarding your work calls to your mobile phone or at least leaving a message, letting your clients know where and how they can connect with you? Your system should allow making changes remotely as to where your phone can be forwarded. 

Legal Payments

If you can’t get the bills out, you’re not going to be paid. If you don’t have a way to send invoices out electronically, that needs to change today, even if it’s a temporary solution. LeanLaw is a cloud-based software that customizes QuickBooks Online for law firms.

We would also advise setting up electronic payments – whether that’s PayPal, QuickBooks Payments or another way. If you’re waiting for paper checks, you will be waiting a long time. People are more apt to pay quickly if you take away all the obstacles.

QuickBooks Online for Law Firms: The best legal billing software

At LeanLaw, we know a bit about work at home operations. If you’re trying to figure out how to manage your legal practice remotely when you’ve never done it before, there is help out there. And if you’re used to remote work at your law firm, but have a new issue to tackle, please ask. We’ve been there.