News

Working Remotely During the Pandemic: A Guide to Bar Member Benefits

By Dan Mills and Rochelle Washington

March 23, 2020

D.C. Bar members have access to several very useful applications and tools that can assist them in their practice. A few of these member benefits are described below. See all member benefits here

Case Management Software 

The D.C. Bar has partnered with Clio, MyCase, and Zola Suite. Each of these tools provides full case management capabilities as well as secure client portals and electronic payments. (Clio is making aid available to those impacted by the pandemic. You can apply here.)  

These tools can come in handy when you are unable to meet face to face with your clients. The online portals provide for secure sharing of documents and acceptance of payments from your clients. They also offer remote online access to anyone authorized to use that has an internet connection. Remember not to use public Wi-Fi connections to perform tasks or use software containing confidential client information. 

LawPay 

LawPay is a stand-alone credit card payment processor specifically tailored to lawyers. Both Clio and MyCase have this product as an add-on feature with their case management software, but if you do not currently use them you can incorporate this product into your technology lineup for convenient payment processing. 

Receptionist & Phones 

Services like Ruby and Smith.ai can answer your office phone and essentially function like an in-firm receptionist even though they operate virtually. 

Other Resources That Are Not D.C. Bar Member Benefits 

Office 365 or Google Business. Office 365 has great features such as Teams and Planner that allow for video conferencing, chat, and collaboration with internal staff. Google Business provides comparable products. Broadly, these products both offer calendaring, email, collaboration options, and a host of other services that can all be accessed remotely. This allows you to continue working with staff and managing your firm no matter where you are so long as you have a secure internet connection. 

VoIP. Systems like Vonage will allow you to receive phone calls through your computer instead of a dedicated phone line in your office. This is extremely useful when you cannot be in a stationary location or your typical office environment, but you still need to receive and make phone calls. You and your staff can continue to receive calls just as if you were in your office without your clients noticing any difference in their ability to communicate with you. If this is not a service you currently have, try forwarding your office phone line to your new location or home office so you can receive calls without any inconvenience to your clients. 

Online Banking. Most banks where you have your operating accounts and IOLTA funds can provide online banking services. If you are not making use of this feature with your bank, now is the time to do so. You can make deposits remotely if you are still receiving checks or payments in the mail. You can also make electronic transfers between your IOLTA and operating accounts so long as you continue to meet your ethical obligations concerning record keeping.  

Video Conferencing. You have a variety of options to meet with clients and still maintain “social distancing”. Zoom.us, Google Hangouts, and Skype are all products that offer video conference capabilities to meet and engage with clients while following the social distance required to keep us all safe. Skype can be added to your Office 365 subscription if you do not currently have it, and Google Hangouts is an added feature with the Google Business suite. Zoom is a stand-alone product that is easy to use and does not require use of any other platform. Each of these products allows for screen share and multiple participants. Some features will involve additional cost.  

A Final Word on Digital Tools 

Digital tools require secure internet connection. Avoid free applications. Paid applications are usually more secure. Implementing these tools at this crucial time is imperative to maintaining the stability and profitability of your law firm. We wish you good health and productivity. 

For more information on practice management issues, contact your practice management advisors at 202-780-2762 or 202-780-2764, or [email protected] and [email protected], or [email protected]. Visit the D.C. Bar Practice Management Advisory Service for information on additional resources.