California Bar Journal
CBJ - December 2009 #01.
Embarking on a virtual odyssey, ultimately to save money
California Bar JournalDecember 2009Embarking on a virtual odyssey, ultimately to save moneyBy Diane CurtisStaff WriterAttorney Kyndra Miller has her feet in two different worlds: the virtual one of electronic communication, robot phones and limiting her client contact to e-mails and phone conferences, and the more traditional one of face-to-face contact in brick-and-mortar buildings.
They both have their place, says the entertainment lawyer, who has offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It's still important for many clients to meet their attorneys in the flesh, to see that shingle outside a real office and to let the attorney fill out whatever forms need to be filed, she says. For others, e-mail and electronic exchange of documents is just fine.
Miller says she's just starting her virtual odyssey, and her main reason for taking that voyage is to save money. "I leverage technology in order to decrease overhead," she says, which allows her to pass savings on to her clients and to be more flexible in billing. Her goal after law school (Lincoln) was "to be able to provide quality legal services to the public without someone having to mortgage their home to be able to get them." Most of the time, she says, she charges a flat fee for her services, primarily entertainment civil litigation and corporate transaction work.
Miller's favorite techno accessory at the moment is the "robot," as she calls it. She uses virtuosity.com's services to get calls and faxes at her toll-free 877 number wherever she is in the world. The service is sort of an electronic secretary that recognizes callers and will tell her there's a call on hold for her and who it is. The service sets up video and voice conferences, sends reminders of appointments and tasks, calls back clients, recognizes frequent callers, takes voice instructions and "whispers" if there is a call waiting. "Of course," she adds, "I have an iPhone. You can't talk about being tech-savvy without having an iPhone." But she says she's just getting started.
There are dazzling technological gadgets and abundant helpful software out there. Some lawyers use a calendar/appointment software similar to what hotels use for making appointments online. The client can search online...