Document Assembly and the Virtual Law Firm
According to this article, the first Virtual Law Firm was apparently set up as long ago as 1996. The concept has taken a while to catch on, but over the years firms have been applying virtual law firm (also called eLawyering) concepts incrementally.
Some out-right virtual law firms (i.e. those who have no formal offices, or very minimal office space) have already been established. These fall into two broad categories: small enterprises offering services via the web to their clients (e.g. StoatDocs, where, interestingly, their clients are other attorneys) and large firms with many partners and associates who operate from their own “offices” (usually their homes) (e.g. Keystone Law).
Cloud based document assembly, such as offered by XpressDox, is integral to the operation of both of these kinds of firms. Whether the templates are hosted on the XpressDox cloud server, or on the firm’s own on-premise server, the Cloud makes it possible for the firm’s client-facing templates to be run from anywhere in the world. For the distributed firm (whose practitioners are operate remotely) the XpressDox Cloud makes it possible for the firm’s management to make sure that the firm’s document standards and best practises can be adhered to as the lawyers can run their templates using the internet browser on their remote system.
Cloud functionality with XpressDox is comprehensive. Once a template has been assembled, whether by a client or a practitioner, the merged document can be emailed to any number of parties, or can be downloaded by the person who completed the interview. These options (email and/or download) are controlled by the template author.
Some examples of usage:
- A potential client asks for an appointment per telephone.
The prospect is sent an email which contains a link to the firm’s Engagement Letter. The prospect clicks on that link and is presented with an interview to complete.
Once all the information has been provided, an Engagement Letter is produced and made available to the prospect in PDF format for download. A copy of the letter and a summary of the prospect’s information can also be emailed to someone at the firm, along with an XML file containing that information in a form that can be imported into the firm’s practice management database.
That information can then be gathered and added to in order to create a “pitch” letter to the prospect which can then be emailed to the prospect.
- A Practitioner sends a letter to a client.
Law firms traditionally take various steps to ensure that their correspondence, in particular the letter head, conforms to the firm’s corporate image. With XpressDox, the letterhead resides in one document, which forms the basis for all letters produced in the firm. With the Cloud, it is very easy to make this letterhead available to all the remote practitioners.
The lawyer in question would just select the letter template to run, and XpressDox will include that letter on the firm’s letterhead. If it is a standard letter and the practitioner does not need to add or amend any information, then the letter can be emailed directly to the client (in PDF format), and a copy downloaded onto the practitioner’s PC.
If any changes need to be made to the assembled document, then the practitioner would not select the direct email option, but would change the downloaded copy and email that changed version to the client.
For technical information on how to set up the XpressDox infrastructure for your own Virtual Law Firm, please email email@example.com and one of our consultants will get in touch with you.