In the not so distant past, many lawyers who practiced as “sole practitioners” or in smaller law firms were forced to practice what many refer to as “Door Law”. These lawyers would take on whatever work came through the door, regardless of the area of law.
Of course, the risk for those who practice in this manner is that due to their varied workload, many do not specialize or develop the relevant expertise to be as competent as needed in all of the areas of law that they practice. This may not only be bad for business; it may be a recipe for negligence.
As the principal lawyer of a boutique business and technology practice in Toronto, I am tasked with finding creative ways to not only afford to limit my practice to specific practice areas but to compete with large law firms for the same clientele.
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What I have learned in my practice is that the key to attracting the type of quality clients that I want, is to provide excellent and specialized legal services at reasonable prices. Prior to certain key advancements in technology, firms were able to provide excellent and specialized services but not at reasonable prices or reasonable prices but generally only at non-specialized generalist firms.
Perhaps the single most important advancement that dramatically reduced start-up costs for firms has been the availability of cloud and hosted solutions. In the past, law firms (and other businesses) incurred tremendous start-up costs associated with purchasing computer servers, back-up systems and telephone systems. In order to have a phone system with call routing, multiple phone lines, extensions and other telephonic features, firms had to purchase bulky private branch exchange (PBX) hardware and host the hardware in a server room. Firms without PBX systems simply did not appear as professional.
With these advancements in cloud technology, many small to mid-size law firms were able to do away with the start-up and maintenance costs of computer and telephone servers and systems and opt for paying affordable monthly fees for cloud computing servers and hosted PBX telephone systems that are located off-site. These affordable solutions permit even the smallest firm to have the appearance of an established organization. Perhaps most importantly, these solutions are scalable and can expand as you continue establish your practice.
Hosted PBX systems, in particular, have the added benefit of permitting you to send faxes online, receive faxes and voicemails to your e-mail inbox and set-up multi-party conference bridges. Even if you don’t have a receptionist, you can set up an automatic attendant with call-routing options.
In order to achieve my goal of excellent and specialized legal services at a reasonable price, I needed to find affordable technology solutions that create a top-level customer experience and permit my firm to be as efficient as possible. Cloud computing and telephony has permitted my staff and I to remain connected and available to receive calls, voicemails, fax and text messages, no matter where we are. Since these solutions are affordable, we have been able to create a highly specialized practice without the need to take on whatever comes through the door.
Allan Oziel is the principal lawyer at Oziel Law, a business, technology and trademark law firm in Toronto, Ontario Canada. For more information about Allan or Oziel Law, please visit oziellaw.ca.
Originally published Jul 12, 2016, updated Jun 02, 2021