Why More Lawyers Are Working Remotely in 2017 Than Ever Before
Billable hour quotas and a competitive global market for legal services have driven law firms and lawyers into overdrive. With pressure to do more with less, more and more employees are being asked to sacrifice their personal life to work harder.
New workplace policies like flex-time, telecommuting, part-time work, compressed schedules and other alternative work arrangements are transforming the law firm environment to one of flexibility. It’ been around, but now it’s no longer a luxury, it’s a must accommodate.
David Goldenberg, founding partner of VLP, recently sat down with Inside Counsel to discuss how working remotely has affected lawyers. Goldenberg’s practice typically involves helping growth-oriented companies on formation, financing, M&A and general contractual matters. He excels at counseling companies at all stages, from helping founders form the company to assisting mature companies on large financings or sale.
“While many firms are now offering flexible policies, we’ve always believed that to attract and retain the best talent you need to be flexible and offer a work/life balance,” he explained. “Technology is now allowing service providers of all kinds to work remotely. More and more lawyers are finding that they can service their clients effectively and achieve a better work/life balance working this way. As technology improves there is no reason why lawyers working remotely cannot provide the same services as any full-service law firm.”
So, is it actually effective and efficient for lawyers to work remotely?
According to Goldenberg, yes. For certain practices, such as corporate, intellectual property, real estate, and other business to business transactions it can be very efficient. For some practices, where lots of collaboration or group meetings are necessary, such as litigation, having an entirely remote group might not work.
“You can’t be at the courthouse remotely, however, with new technology many practices can operate very well remotely,” he said.
There are many pros and cons of this increase in remote working in law. Working remotely offers a better work life balance, plus economic and environmental advantages (less cars on the road, more flexibility to practice wherever you are), not as much overhead, and better use of time.
“Like in any industry, we have people who are parents or taking care of elderly parents who want to be involved in their lives as well as have successful careers. Our work model allows them to be successful in both roles,” he explained. “Plus, you can’t beat the dress code!”
However, some practices may require more in person and/or group interaction. VLP addresses this by using teleconferencing technology to stay in touch with weekly department and firm meetings. We also meet in person four times a year.
Overall, a better work/life balance makes for a happier lawyer: less burn out and not as much stress from commuting to and being in an office environment all the time. Looking into the future, virtual law offices going to become more popular, indeed, according to Goldenberg. But, there will always be a place for traditional brick and mortar law firms.
He added, “We believe the number of lawyers working remotely will continue to grow.”