Digital Law Practice Cali Course

Homework # 1

Five positive attributes of an Online Law Practice

1. The unbundling of legal services allows the lawyer to hone skills to a specific complement of services and become very efficient in the delivery.
2. An online practice can reach clients who are otherwise not able to travel or easily communicate
3. The lawyer has more freedom and flexibility in the location of the office and lifestyle choices and balance requirements
4. For younger clients, this type of practice aligns with expectations of doing business online, having the flexibility of communicating at the client's time, and is a wonderful way to begin a relationship.
5. It makes the cost of providing services more reachable and more accessible.

Five negative attributes

1. Ethics issues not yet standardized across state bars.
2. Simple matters can evolve into complexity that is not suited to online communications and raises issues about transfering client to a regular attorney relationship
3. Client communications may be more challenging;
4. Lawyer may become isolated from colleagues and may find it harder to stay abreast of changes in law
5. Requirements to understand technology and use it appropriately can be overwhelming when first starting; many technical decisions, if not well understand, can cause trouble.

Definitions of Virtual Law Practice, Digital Law Office, or eLawyering

1. A virtual law firm is a group of lawyers with diverse expertise that are banded together through technological means to provide a suite of services to its clients.

2. The American Bar Association’s eLawyering Task Force has defined a “virtual law practice” as one where a client has access to the firm’s lawyers, communications and documents related to their legal matter through a password protected and secure web space where both the attorney and client may interact, documents are shared, and legal services consumed by the client.

3. A "virtual law firm" is a law firm that delivers legal services directly to clients via the Internet through a password-protected, secure Web space. Here clients may purchase legal services as needed via online credit card payment, and the attorney and client can communicate, share files and interact in a variety of ways. The key feature of a "virtual law firm" is the use of a Web site that incorporates interactive and web-enabled programs to support interaction between lawyer and client along a number of dimensions. An attorney who simply works out of his or her home, without a physical law office, but offers legal services in the traditional way is not a "virtual law firm" by this definition. For more information on the concept of a "virtual law firm" and "elawyering," visit

California State Bar Material

1.The State Bar of California has released a draft formal ethics opinion (No. 10-0003) regarding the use of a “virtual law office practice” by an attorney. This seven page ethics opinion was tentatively approved by the State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct on November 5th.


Free Resources

1.The book project called Educating the Digital Lawyer is now available for download as an epub file here

2. Volume IV of the recently released 2010 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report is devoted to Web and Communication Technology. A section on E-Lawyering reports that 14% of Respondents over all, and 19% of solo practitioners, report that they have a virtual law office or virtual law practice.

3. Stephanie Kimbros's article on Virtual law practice.