Since we live in an age where one can procure products and services, as well as check on the status of certain products or services (bank balances, insurance values, investment values, etc.), through the internet, we decided to look at how “internet friendly” our firm is. The findings we came up with were quite surprising.
FIRST CONTACT WITH A FIRM THROUGH THE INTERNET
Many of our clients find us through the internet. Whether they are on their cell phone, their laptop, their iPad or even their desktop computer, clients are searching for attorneys and comparing firms via the internet. We often begin our relationship with a client through e-mail exchanges, and we ask that the potential client review our website and compare us with other firms. Fortunately, there are a number of sites where attorneys and firms are rated and reviewed by clients (Martindale.com, Lawyers.com, and AVVO to name a few) and we invite potential clients to look us up in those sites, look at our ratings, and look at the reviews from former clients.
MANAGEMENT OF AN “ACCOUNT” OR “RELATIONSHIP” WITH A FIRM THROUGH THE INTERNET
We have streamlined our billing and reporting services so that each of our clients gets monthly reports on not only the work which has been done, but also the balance in his/her trust account.
Many courts now have cases available for access by the public on the internet so that, at the least, one can check his/her case and see the types of filings, when they were made, and, in many cases, the actual papers filed. Many times orders made by the court can be seen by the client on the internet.
DOING THE ACTUAL “WORK” THROUGH THE INTERNET
Most (if not all) pleadings, reports, affidavits, and statements which need to be filed in the cases we handle can be exchanged on the internet between us and the client, as well as executed over the internet. On some occasions it is necessary for a client to execute something and return an “original” notarized copy to us, but this is the only situation that requires the document to actually be mailed. In many courts, even our filing with the court itself is done through the internet.
DOING “EVERYTHING” WITH A FIRM THROUGH THE INTERNET
In thinking about all this, we realized that we have had clients in different states and even in different countries where our total representation of them was carried out without us ever meeting them in person. We are currently completing a case which has been pending for about three years and the client, who lives in Switzerland, has never personally met with any of us. This also holds true of other cases we have participated in where we have never even physically met with our client.
While it should be obvious that certain types of cases will require a client’s appearance in hearings, many firms have “kept up with the times” and modernized their office procedures so that client involvement is always instant, client control of a case is instant, and the client can always have easy access to the firm and all of its resources.