What is a Virtual Law Office?
A virtual law office is a law office that has the ability to deliver legal services to its clients from beginning to end over the internet through the use of software allowing for the secure and encrypted exchange of information between the attorney and client. The rise in virtual law offices are the direct result of the demand by the client that there be more structure and predictability in costs at the outset of a legal representation. One way for a law firm to meet these client demands is to become more efficient and lower its operating overhead. In the past this was a very difficult task for a firm to undertake as there is a thin line between being lean and mean and losing productivity. However, times have changed. Technology has become the difference maker that is enabling clients to obtain high quality legal services delivered efficiently at an affordable price.
Why a Virtual Law Office?
In my opinion there is an inherent deficiency in the traditional 'brick-and-mortar' law office. Some law firms try to convey competence and success to their clients and potential clients by creating impressive offices with expensive furnishings in prime real estate locations. The overhead costs created by this desire to project a certain image often get passed on to the client through the attorney's hourly fee. The virtual law office model allows for a decrease in overhead through the use of technology to remove the need for a physical law office and the costs associated with having a physical space. Additionally, technology allows for increased efficiency which translates into lower costs for the same high quality service which means greater value for you, the client.
Why a Virtual Law Office now?
We live in the information age. We expect to get the information we want, when we want it. We have grown accustomed to doing many important and personal life activities online (i.e. buying and selling stocks, researching real estate, dating, paying bills, accessing bank accounts and transferring money between accounts, applying for jobs, shopping, transacting business, attending class, and the list goes on). All of these things are often done from the comfort of our homes and at our convenience any time of the day or night.
You are busy. You have a job, maybe a business, a home, and a family. You have a life that requires and deserves your attention. So why shouldn't you have the ability to get your legal services delivered to you on your terms, at a time and place of your choosing?
// getting educated on a legal topic;
// requesting your desired legal services;
// completing a client intake interview;
// knowing the final cost for services at the outset of the legal representation;
// communicating securely with your attorney throughout the process;
// collaborating on document drafting and review;
// receiving an attorney drafted and reviewed legal document, customized for your specific situation; and
// paying for those legal services.
// taking time off of work;
// traveling to your attorney's law office;
// wondering “how much is this all going to cost me in the end?”; or
// ever leaving the comfort of your own home.
Hoeft Law makes this a reality. I believe that the client should be paying for the actual value of the legal services received rather than covering a law firm's overhead. By being on the cutting edge of technology in order to more efficiently deliver legal services to you, Hoeft Law aims to provide you with the high quality legal services you expect at a cost and convenience you will appreciate.
Why not use the billable hour?
Although the billable hour pricing model dominates the legal industry it does not mean that it is the best way to bill clients for services provided. In fact, in my opinion it is not the best billing model for several reasons.
The billable hour causes client uncertainty regarding the overall cost of the requested legal services. Clients may often avoid asking questions or fail to provide additional information to their attorney out of fear of being billed for that time and a desire to keep their costs low. Creating this kind of environment is neither in the client's nor the attorney's best interest. Attorneys cannot represent clients to the best of our ability if we do not have all of the facts and information concerning the client's legal matter.
Moreover, the nature of the billable hour creates an inherent conflict because the amount of money the firm brings in is directly related to the raw amount of time spent on a client's matter (whether or not that time is quality time generating actual value for the client). In other words, the billable hour pricing model does nothing to promote efficiency and in fact does just the opposite.
However, this is not to say that the billable hour does not have its place. There are certain matters that are simply too complex or have too many variables to put a fixed price on the matter at the outset. That being said, Hoeft Law does use the billable hour but only as an alternative billing model.
By providing legal services for Hoeft Law's business, real estate, and estate planning clients on a fixed-fee basis you will know at the outset how much the legal services will cost. This allows you to better budget for your legal services and to make an upfront determination as to the value being received. Additionally, the fixed-fee pricing model shifts the burden of any inefficiencies from the client to the attorney as any additional time it takes to complete those legal services is borne by the attorney rather than you, the client.
How is this different from legal document generation companies or software?
Companies and software designed to generate legal documents based upon the answers you provide to a questionnaire neither guaranties that the document generated addresses your specific legal need nor that the document you purchased is even the best document for your circumstance. These companies are not law firms and therefore cannot give any legal advice regarding your situation.
Hoeft Law, however, is a Wisconsin law firm founded and operated by Attorney Brent Hoeft, an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin, ethically bound by the Wisconsin Code of Responsibility, and covered by professional liability insurance. It is my duty as a licensed attorney to zealously represent all my clients. Hoeft Law utilizes some of the same kinds of technology used by some of the online legal document generation companies as a convenience to its clients. Hoeft Law will not only provide you with convenient and secure delivery of you legal documents through the use of the Client Page but you can rest assured that will you receive the appropriate legal services and advice for your specific circumstance.