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    September 23rd, 2011

    ♬ …I care for you… I’m there 
    … I’m there for you…I care… 

    Lyrics, music and recorded by Wolfsheim.

    Care Bear

    Jay Fleischman in a blog post entitled: “Is the Virtual Law Firm Model Coming up Short?” opines that lawyers practising in a virtual practice are ‘missing an ingredient’. Mr. Fleischman continues:

    Those who offer the virtual law firm are selling something most people don’t want.  People want to be able to make a personal connection with other people, to build trust in a lawyer’s expertise.  They don’t want to be met with a password-encrypted firewall and triple-redundant backup systems.

    Mr. Fleischman and I agree on at least one point thou:  it isn’t about the technology.  Most certainly!

    But with respect, we differ on where to take it from there. In Mr. Fleischman’s view:

    You need to figure out how to connect with people who are not necessarily in front of you.  In fact, you’ve got to determine when being face-to-face is best for the client.

    Yes, but … that is only part of the picture.  In my view, Mr. Fleischman fails to take his argument to its logical conclusion. Why would face-to-face be best for (some) clients?  Not because “people want to make a personal connection” (per Mr. Fleischman) but because they have to know – trust – feel – that you care.

    Face-to-face or virtual is just a communication medium or method.  It is not the medium  or method that is important – it is the message. I like concrete examples (Mr. Fleischman states that he hears whispers from virtual lawyers that they are not making money – but he fails to cite examples of lawyers who started virtual practices and have left the business). Since the metric cited by Mr. Fleischman is making money, then let’s look at the most successful legal technology company at this time, Apple.

    According to The Register, Apple annihilated Wall Street’s performance estimates:

    The Cupertinian juggernaut posted its financial results for its third fiscal quarter of 2011 on Tuesday, and the numbers were – to understate a wee bit – quite satisfactory.

    “We’re thrilled to deliver our best quarter ever, with revenue up 82 per cent and profits up 125 per cent,” said CEO Steve Jobs.

    The Wall Street moneymen, according to consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters, had expected net income to be up 65 per cent. The money folks had expected revenue of $24.9bn; Apple posted $28.57bn.

    Now – I ask all those people who are buying Apple’s products have ‘a personal relationship’ with Apple? Perhaps some would think so …but I would opine that most of them buy Apple’s products because they feel that Apple really, truly cares about the products that they make. Apple wishes their customers to have the best experience possible when using their products. In a word, Apple cares about the user’s experience.

    It doesn’t matter if the experience is online or virtual or some other combination.  For someone to be an enthusiastic customer or client, you have to do more. What you want and need are “enthusiastic” clients. Enthusiastic clients are people who feel they got more than they paid for, and as a result, they stick with you.

    In the book: “I Love You More Than My Dog: Five Decisions that Drive Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad,” Jeanne Bliss, according to David C. Wyld Southeastern Louisiana University, April 4, 2010 states:

    When customers love you, they will not only turn to you when a particular product or service is needed, they will turn to you first, regardless of their competition.

    In my view, it isn’t about face-to-face time that Mr. Fleischman states. Client loyalty, satisfaction and yes, enthusiasm can be established provided that clients feel that their lawyer really, truly and deeply, cares about their matter.  You can be virtual, you can be face-to-face, you can use a combo of methods – ultimately how you communicate doesn’t matter so long as your message – that you truly and deeply care about the legal services that you render – comes through.

    In my view that is the message. Care. Deeply.  Passionately. No matter how you practice..bricks and mortar, tethered or untethered,  virtually or otherwise. The  clients have to know that you are there for them.

    This entry was posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011 at 7:23 am and is filed under Adding Value, Business Development, Change Management, Issues facing Law Firms, Law Firm Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Make it Work!, Technology, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    3 Responses to “Virtual Practice..Coming Up Short? or What is the Message?”
    1. admin Says:


      A note that Richard Granat, President of Smart Legal Forms Inc, has also written a response to Jay Fleischman’s post.

      You can read Richard’s post here:



    2. FrancisR Says:

      The fact that virtual practice still survives is because clients have a certain preference when it comes to interaction with people. It is also accessible to most people.

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