Lawyers' definitions of virtual practice vary, but not when it comes to finding success

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Illustration by Michael Morgenstern

Talk about a classic dinghy-among-the-battleships dilemma: Large law firms are lurching toward even greater mass every year. In 2013, and for the first time, the National Law Journal 250 list of the nation’s largest firms included two breaking the 4,000-lawyer barrier. Three more had more than 2,000 lawyers, and an additional 17 topped 1,000.

So it’s inconceivable that solos and small firms with merely an online presence could stay afloat surrounded by such battleships, right?

Well, they do. Thousands of lawyers now connect with clients exclusively, or primarily, in the virtual world. And they make a healthy living doing it. They’ve largely been navigating uncharted waters, but that’s changing too. In 2009, the ABA eLawyering Task Force issued suggested minimum requirements for virtual lawyers. It followed up in 2011 with guidelines for the use of cloud computing. By observing each new wave of guidelines and incorporating emerging best practices—along with their own personal lessons—virtual lawyers are reshaping their own corner of the practice.

Click here to read the rest of “Net Profits” from the April issue of the ABA Journal.

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