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Family Law Blog

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Wikipedia pins down virtual law ethos

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It’s not often I am shocked but this week there was an exception. A colleague excitedly emailed to say I was on Wikipedia. Now, I have used Wikipedia plenty of times before. I find it a very useful reference tool for everything from who played Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films, to explanations of complicated jargon. I also know that anyone can contribute to it. I had no idea I was on it though.

I am not one of those people who periodically Googles themselves to find out what is on the internet about them. Lots of people do though I am told. (Do you?!) Wikipedia is something different though. In my opinion it is seen much more as a serious reference guide, albeit with a hugely diverse subject range.

My name came up on the entry for virtual law firms. Apparently, according to the entry, I was the first person to set up a virtual law firm. Does that make me something of a Godfather? Or maybe Vodfather?

The entry intro says this:

The term "virtual law firm" originally was used to refer to a group of lawyers with diverse expertise that are banded together through technological means to provide a suite of services to its clients. The first recorded virtual law firm was "Woolley & Co" set up in 1996 in England by Andrew Woolley. The term became better used from 2004. Virtual law firms are also often referred to as "Law Firm 2.0". The concept has now spread globally and is finding favour with clients seeking better service and value.

The entry goes on to define a virtual law firm as having a stable core of lawyers, collaborative relationships with other related professionals, is “glued together” by computer and telecommunications systems, and it expands with personnel as needed.

You can read the whole page here.

It is very satisfying to think that I might have started some sort of global trend, but the most gratifying thing is that the entry has picked up on the customer service angle, which is where all good law firms should focus. Good service and expert, informed advice. Now more than ever, in the difficult economic climate, offering world class customer service is what will help set us apart from the masses of family law firms out there.

It is no longer enough just to be qualified to take someone through the legal aspects of a divorce process. A family law expert must offer advice and guidance on a raft of related topics, pointing clients at related professionals where necessary, offering appointments schedules around an individual’s busy life, and using email to speed up document swapping. Websites must be a mine of information, as well as a shop window and include detail on transparent pricing.

The virtual law firm model seems ideally suited to offering this level of service. Hopefully our elevation to Wikipedia Godfather status will help spread the word further and encourage other legal institutions to reassess how they deliver their services.

And in case anyone was wondering, Richard Harris and Michael Gambon have both played Dumbledore.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce and Family Solicitor

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