Wednesday, May 22, 2013

California gives the OK to Virtual law offices (VLOs)

California has already given the formal OK to using cloud-based systems, such as Online Legal Software, in an attorney's practice.  Now in a new formal opinion, 2012-184, the State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct has gone further and OK'd the use of virtual law offices.

A virtual law office is based wholly on the internet - not only is there no physical office, in the case presented in California, the attorney proposed a situation wherein she wouldn't even have phone or email contact with her clients, but that everything would be done through a secure client-portal.

Essentially, the Committee ruled that VLOs have to follow the same rules as traditional offices - and that nothing inherent in the concept and operation of a VLO would conflict with the ethical rules.

While VLOs may not be right for all practice areas or all attorneys, the decision demonstrates the increasing comfort ethics boards have with the cloud and technology.  It's here to stay and will only get more common.