Virtual Law Firms Offer the Next Big Thing – Online Wills Bundled With Attorney Review

Despite the proliferation of the many opportunities to purchase online legal documents, you should probably think again before buying do-it-yourself wills and the like. After all, legal documents are the most important items you’ll leave behind in the event of your demise. Rather than trust your intuition to handle the many details of a complicated legal document, you may want to take advantage of the numerous benefits of a virtual law firm.

You can buy anything online these days. The Internet offers so many choices, ranging from established, world-wide companies to local, single-owner businesses. In addition to brick-and-mortar stores, every company needs a web presence. Goods of all sorts are sold online, from jewelry to comic books, vintage guitars to designer clothing. After the successful sale of digital downloads for ebooks and music, legal documents were the next logical candidate for online sales.

Famous attorneys attached their names to the first few sites selling legal documents. However, those attorneys were merely representing the company selling the forms. They certainly weren’t there to represent their customers. That means that no matter who was the celebrity spokesperson, you still had to do all the research, enter all the data and take the chances if you didn’t complete the legal forms correctly.

A virtual law firm removes that risk by offering far more than a successful form download and directions. With a virtual law firm, you get valid advice from an attorney licensed in your state – an attorney who can handle all sorts of estate matters like wills, living trusts and powers of attorney. But that’s not all they do. They can also help you prepare living wills, health care proxies and deeds. Their advice is available to their customers for free by email and telephone. They also offer a review of your legal documents for free, adding expertise to the purchase.

Any estate planning is a serious undertaking. While it may be less-expensive to bypass the attorney fees and time spent in appointments, you surely don’t want to trust your will to a novice like yourself, unless your will is going to be as simple as bequeathing everything to one person. If you have a family, you want to be sure your will provides for everyone as you had intended. An attorney can assure your intentions are followed to the letter.

Some firms will even print your forms after you’ve filled them in online. That way, they can check them over for errors or omissions. If you decide you forgot something or want to make a change, most virtual law firms will permit changes and a reprinting of your documents within thirty days from the day of the document’s creation. They use expensive, official-looking paper to give your documents the legal appearance and feel you’d expect.

Like everything, virtual law firms aren’t for everyone. Here are some conditions for which you probably wouldn’t want to use a virtual law firm.

• If your will is likely to be contested.

• If you have substantial wealth.

• If you’re a citizen of a foreign country.

• If you plan to disinherit someone from your will.

• If you own a business that provides substantial income.

• If you want to establish a dedicated fund for a relative with special needs.

• If you are a property owner in a foreign country.

In some of the above instances, there are additional tax issues to consider when planning a will, so it’s best to not use a virtual law firm. In other cases, settling the estate may become complicated – more complicated than an online attorney can handle. But these cases are less common than the estate planning required by most folks, so most people are likely to be able to use an online attorney.

You’d expect that the fee charged for online attorney services is high. It’s not. It’s comparable to the fees charged by non-lawyer websites that offer forms without legal advice.

The obvious advantage to employing a virtual law firm is the same as for any Internet purchase. The convenience results in savings of both time and money – two things everybody can use. Why bother making an appointment and wasting gas and your afternoon by driving into the city to see an attorney? You can enjoy the same advantages of online shopping – 24 hour per day, seven days per week access – by using an online lawyer. You don’t have to miss time at work or sacrifice your weekend.

Of course, if you don’t need any advice or a review of your legal documents, you can simply get the desired legal forms to handle your estate planning on your own. Then, if you find yourself in a bind, you can always ask for assistance or a review of your document. The advice you need is only an email or phone call away.

The virtual law firm is an idea whose time has come. By working online, the attorney fees are lowered but the end-result remains the same – a legally sound document. Online attorneys are regulated by their State Bar. They’re required to follow the same rules as any other attorney in your state. Plus virtual law firms use SSL, the most robust, safest method of transmitting private information online. That guarantees a secure transmission of your personal data.

Unless you have a friendship with your local lawyer, the benefits of using a virtual law firm for your legal needs should be apparent. You can save time and money thanks to the convenience of their 24/7 service. An online attorney can help you make sure your will, power of attorney, deed or living trust is completed properly so it may be executed according to your wishes.

Estate planning is incredibly important. Why take a chance when you can have access to your own virtual law firm? If you’re already planning on buying legal documents online, step up and buy them from a virtual law firm. You’ll get value added to your purchase – the value of the expert advice of an online attorney.

Common Qualities of the Best Law Firms

In my 12 years of practice, I have been employed with a wide variety of law firms. When I decided to open my own practice, I started thinking about the qualities that make up the best law firms. In determining the best law firms do you include things such as employee benefits, firm culture and employee turnover rates? Or do you focus on the qualities that affect a law firm’s most precious commodity – the client? My take on this is that the best law firms employ quality attorneys and staff with the highest of ethical standards and the desire to fight within their ethical bounds for their clients.

One key factor in having a successful law practice is an effective leader. A good leader will have a vision for the firm’s direction, a commitment to serving its clients, and a desire to find like-minded people that believe not only in the clients, but the brand of the firm. I have found in my practice that effective leaders can quickly change with success and growth. They often lose touch with the very people that helped them grow into a successful powerhouse. It is easy to go from a scenario of weekly partner/associate lunches to rarely, if ever, seeing a partner in the office. Effective leaders at the best law firm have a good understanding of the legal work coming out of the office, the overall satisfaction of its clients, and an awareness of the employees’ overall job satisfaction. With success and growth, it is easy to lose touch with these important factors, but good leaders will remain cognizant of these factors, even with exponential growth of the firm.

The best law firms also have compassion for their clients. When attorneys at these firms meet with clients, it’s never about sharing the attorney’s successes. Rather, it’s listening to your clients concerns, determining their overall goal through representation by the firm, and showing empathy towards their situation. Many attorneys look at their clients and see dollar signs. They look at the opportunity to bill or the total fee they will earn on a contingency for a huge settlement. These attorneys fail to recall one of the most basic ethical consideration of attorneys, acting in the best interest of the client. Because at the end of the day, all the billable hours in the world won’t make a practice successful If you don’t satisfy and take good care of your clients. Firms with this mindset often have high turnover rates because they make billing THE priority. They burn their attorneys out and bring in brand new attorneys and start the process fresh with them. This can easily lead to dissatisfaction by clients. They may not know from one month to the next which attorney is representing them.

Another key quality of the best law firms is a narrow focus on a particular area of law. The days of general practitioners is (or should be) gone. Laws are complex and can change in an instant depending on legislation or new case law handed down by appellate courts. The best law firms have focus on one area of law and become very good at it. They are aware of recent changes as well as developing changes in their area of practice. With such a narrow focus, they can change strategy in an instant and become the authority to their clients by showing their knowledge in a particular area of law. Beware of the lawyer who claims to practice in all areas of civil litigation. While it is possible, consider that opposing counsel may have a more narrow focus. They may have that golden nugget of information that can make the case a winner for them and a loser for your client.

There are a number of other factors to consider when trying to determine the best. That may be the discussion for a future article. But those discussed here are, in this author’s opinion, the most important factors to consider when trying to figure out what makes a firm one of the best.

Varying Video for Effective Law Firm Web Marketing

Video is becoming increasingly important to law firm web marketing. Website and YouTube video can help law firms with website stickiness, improve professionalism, optimize their law firm SEO and leverage social media marketing to carry their message to both their existing clients and prospective clients. Let’s consider a few YouTube statistics. YouTube, owned by Google since 2006, boasts some truly amazing metrics. For example, as of this writing, YouTube’s website states that it attracts over 800 billion unique users visits each month and over 3 billion hours of video are watched each month. 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and in 2011 YouTube had more than 1 trillion views or around 140 views for every person on Earth. Clearly web video is attracting and retaining a large following.

How can you optimize your law firm marketing content for YouTube? Strength is represented in numbers and variety. Once you have created a page (or space) on your law firm website, you should also create a YouTube channel. Optimize your channel for your target prospects and make sure your description and tags incorporate the long tail keywords germane to your target audience. Leverage your law firm logo and branding to make your YouTube channel look professional and current. Then, populate both your channel and your law firm website with compelling content across multiple video mediums. For example, you can use PowerPoint Vlogs, talking head recordings (using video from your own laptop), Skype recorded videos, professionally shot and edited videos and recorded webinars. There are pros and cons with each of these videos relating to your law firm web marketing.

  • PowerPoint Vlogs:These are fast and easy to create and post. You will achieve better results if your slide deck has been created by a graphic artist. Vlogs are typically a more casual type of video, and can be used to rapidly convey changes in a specific industry.
  • Recorded Webinars: Webinars can be recorded and posted to your law firm website or YouTube. Shorter is usually better, as patience can wear thin for even an interesting, albeit lengthy webinar recording. Webinars offer the advantage of looking and sounding “professional”, though quality can vary based on the vagaries of the internet throughput and recording devices used on the day of the webinar.
  • Talking Head Recordings:Quality varies on the recording device used and the professionalism and experience of the speaker. For example, using a built in high def camera can work well with some laptops, I usually suggest multiple practice sessions across several devices, to compare and contrast the resulting video. Make sure your background looks professional, an office background, if not cluttered, often looks best. You can also record in an empty courtroom, or on a quiet weekend, in front of a court house. This can be done with a computer or other digital recording device.
  • Skype Recorded Videos:Skype interviews are often easier for the speaker because they are responding to “interview” questions and don’t need to be as rehearsed when compared to Vlogs or talking head videos. Interviewers can utilize on camera or off camera (split screen) technologies. Skype does not offer recording capabilities, a third party software solution must be used.
  • Professional Videographer Videos:There are two types of these videos, those which feature or include live speakers, and those which use photos or images which convey your value proposition. The former might include a message from the managing partner or other attorneys, the latter might include images of your offices and other related law firm materials, or images pertaining to your target market.

Once you’ve added videos to your YouTube channel and website, leverage these for your social media marketing campaigns. Post, Tweet, Pin, Like, Link, Blog and Vlog your content. Push your video out to your market using LinkedIn, Facebook, Tiwtter, Google, YouTube, Pinterest, Blogs, etc. Make sure your website links and call to action are prominently noted on both your channel and each video. Vary your video and vary your content for optimum efficacy. Educational videos typically work best. One of the fastest growing areas of YouTube relates to “How To” videos. Whether you’re discussing how to how to aggressively defend lawsuits, how to mitigate liability or how to ensure driver safety, video is a great way to reach your target markets.

Remember, all of your content does not need to specifically relate to law, as long as it is professional and interesting and results in quality traffic and interaction with your target market. Note that your content will vary drastically based on your practice. For example, attorneys specializing in family law will have a different approach, look and feel than those practicing corporate litigation. Your video content should “speak” to the audience you are targeting. And when in doubt, you can create your own informal focus group, sending your video links to trusted clients, friends and colleagues for their candid feedback. If your law firm has yet to begin your video law firm web marketing initiative, there is no time like the present. If you have already begun, remember to vary your video, your content and your web marketing distribution for optimum results.