Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 28


Brent Fewell
Chair and Founder,
Earth & Water Group

THE ZEN
OF THE
VIRTUAL
WORKPLACE
By Tracy Schorn

Thinking of working from home? Here are
some of the perks of a virtual workplace.
No commute = huge time savings. The
average American spends 26 minutes each
way to work. Round trip, five days a week, 50
weeks a year? That's 9.03 days a year of your
life saved, not to mention commuter costs
(plus sanity).
It's good for the planet. Fewer people
traveling by cars, buses, and trains lowers the
amount of vehicle emissions and decreases
fuel usage. A win for the environment!
Flexibility. Better work-life balance thanks to
flex-time means fewer leave days taken for
family obligations. Workers also report sick
less often.
Lower overhead costs. A virtual workplace
means not having to worry about renting
office space, paying for extra utility costs, or
buying furniture.
Increased productivity. More of the day can
be devoted to the job, special projects, or
other responsibilities because commuting
time is eliminated. Improved morale helps
with productivity, too.
Sweatpants Wednesday. Every day can be
casual Friday when you work from home. If
you want to draft arguments in cargo shorts,
no one will judge. (Except perhaps the cat.)

28 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JANUARY 2017 *

and password-protected documents ensure a level of
security.
"Keeping down overhead and being flexible with
clients is a good model for virtual law firms," says Ken
Samuelson, a virtual solo practitioner licensed in D.C.,
Maryland, and Virginia. "It's a good way to get to the
client who has concerns about the legal fees that
other firms are charging. It allows you to be more cost
effective and to attract more cases in the long term."
Additionally, a number of e-lawyers turn to practice
management tools such as Clio, MyCase, and Rocket
Matter. These are turnkey solutions that provide
extensive office functionality along with targeted
tools designed for law firms, especially in the areas of
tracking time and billing clients. These services are
generally designed to grow with the firm, as well.
To ensure confidentiality, experts say attorneys must
be careful in selecting a third-party vendor and in
analyzing their terms of service on matters such as
document storage, invoicing, and e-signature
protocols to ensure they provide reasonable care in
protecting client and attorney information.
While operating solely on the Web is possible, most
virtual law firms today tend to also rent shared offices.
By eschewing the corporate suite of permanent
offices with the accompanying overhead, e-lawyers
are able to reduce costs significantly. Some furnished
and staffed spaces, such as those provided through
Carr Workplaces or Regus, offer the illusion of a
regular office at a fraction of the cost.

Even for virtual law firms, a small office can help the
firm appear more professional through a recognizable
address in a well-appointed building. Additionally,
these offices offer monthly leases and have sister
buildings in other parts of the country to allow for
flexibility in setting up in-person meetings.
"When I started working in Illinois, it was required that
I have an office there," says Cari Rinker, a virtual sole
practitioner who lives in New York but is licensed to
practice in D.C., Illinois, New Jersey, and New York. "If I
have a case there, I use the office, but [for] most of my
clients, my work is done online and over the phone."
The ethical considerations for practicing remotely in a
shared space have been addressed by a number of
jurisdictions. In the District, D.C. Bar Ethics Opinion 303
clarified that" unaffiliated lawyers may share office
space and related services so long as the
arrangements for such sharing do not compromise
the confidentiality of each attorney's client
information, the independence of each attorney, and
the separate obligations of each attorney to comply
with the Rules of Professional Conduct. In addition,
the sharing arrangements must be structured in a
way that does not suggest to the public that the
lawyers are affiliated when they are not."

MANAGING CLIENT
RELATIONSHIPS
Not every client will be attracted to a virtual
relationship. Some would naturally prefer a Mount
Vernon Triangle or K Street mega-office, with the


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January 2017

Washington Lawyer - January 2017
Contents
Your Voice
From Our President
Our Membership
Career & Professional Development
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Government & Gavel
Feature: An Inside Job
Feature: Investment Planning for Lawyers
Feature: Making the Virtual Leap
Feature: Lawyers Have Heart
Member Spotlight
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Partners' Perspective
Ask the Ethics Experts
Attorney Briefs
Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Washington Lawyer - January 2017
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Contents
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 4
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Our Membership
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Government & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: An Inside Job
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 20
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Investment Planning for Lawyers
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Making the Virtual Leap
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Feature: Lawyers Have Heart
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 32
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Partners' Perspective
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January 2017 - Cover4
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