Part 2: The Advantages of Remote Work — Keeping Families Together
We recently interviewed Family law attorney Bob Noone about his experiences in managing a multistate adoption and child protection firm. Robert Noone Legal Services was first established in 1989, in Logan, West Virginia. In 2008 he opened a second office in Alabama. Noone Legal Services provides families in West Virginia and Alabama with adoption‐related legal services. His focus is on protecting the legal rights of hopeful adoptive parents and assuring that the adoption process, which can be challenging and confusing, is understandable and as hassle-free as possible.
Our discussion with Noone focused on the business and management aspects of running a law firm and the impact of technology over the years.
Remote Work in the Early Days
Noone was an early adopter of new legal technology in situations when he was convinced that it could improve his practice. In the early years, he would meet with clients at their homes, or they would visit his office. When travel between the West Virginia and Alabama and collaborating with a paralegal in Colorado put a crimp in his client response times, Noone was quick to try cloud-based document-sharing applications such as Dropbox. “Because I was in multiple states, I started using video formats way back when. Before there was Skype, there was a thing called Lightspeed, I believe.” He saw the potential for legal technology to improve productivity and efficiency.
Adapting to a Virtual Law Firm Model
In 2007, Noone once again took a step forward with technology to improve his support for clients. As one lawyer with large load of juvenile cases, he found that a legal practice management system helped him keep track of documents, cases, deadlines and schedules. As he continued to organize and digitize over time, the firm became paperless. Noone became known as the attorney who could locate documents, records and emails on the fly in a courtroom when the judge needed additional facts. To gain the full advantage of the cloud, Noone decided to use the Abacus Private Cloud (APC), a virtual workspace designed to host a law firm’s critical data and applications.
Bob runs his firm with the AbacusNext Family Law Suite. Download the free TechnoLawyer Hot Product Report for an inside look at the top features that help makes his practice successful.
A New Appreciation for Remote Advantages
After years of working in virtual mode across time zones, Noone says, “It took a good pandemic for me to really reap the value of all of the automation and case management software I had.” Though he had had a secure private cloud workspace and access to case documents from any location or device, he had continued to meet in person with clients. When the pandemic compelled him to go fully remote, he found even greater appreciation for three key advantages of Abacus Private Cloud: automation, communications and a secure system that reduces risk.
The client experience upgraded enormously when the firm automated the client intake process. Clients, unable to meet the attorney in person, can complete an intake form with all known details about the adoption on his secure site. The completed intake form merges with the AbacusLaw filing. “In counties with e-filing, if you get to me before 5:00 p.m. East Coast time, I can file before midnight.” Intake automation allowed Noone to break a record during the pandemic, filing 43 adoptions in a single month.
The pandemic presented huge challenges for routine means of communications – often personal meetings – with colleagues and clients in addition to group gatherings for a training session or large meeting. As virtual communications became more important than ever, Noone found even greater value in AbacusLaw with the ability to schedule calls and meetings, see details on the client’s case while speaking with them on the phone and capture call notes for future reference.
Clients also appreciate the streamlined communications offered by the client portal. Clients can quickly and easily upload documents related to the case and send private messages to the attorney.
State courts slowed significantly due to delays caused by the pandemic. Noone was instrumental in lobbying the Supreme Court of West Virginia to change an existing rule and add uncontested adoptions to a list of hearings that could be handled by videoconferencing. “I just think that that really is a signal of where things will be headed. And the courts were reticent to change and had their status quo.” Concerns on the part of the courts regarding how to handle live hearings and proceedings virtually have been answered in part by encryption and password protection.
Above all, protecting sensitive client and firm data is a top priority. And those are some of the security advantages that are part of a cloud that has been built specifically for attorneys. World-class security – including state-of-the-art data centers, AES 256-bit encryption, ransomware defense and backup – and disaster recovery tools protect client and firm data while you focus on practicing law. See why a secure cloud solution is critical in storing sensitive information safely and securely.
Are you the Bob Noone of your practice area? Find tips for taking your firm virtual in the Remote Work Readiness Checklist.