Eldon L. Looby is the Founder and Managing Attorney at Looby Law, PLLC (“LoobyLaw”), a virtual law firm. His practice is primarily focused in the areas of business law, litigation, eDiscovery, family and matrimonial law. Eldon’s clients consist of individuals, families and businesses ranging from solopreneur start-ups to SMEs (small and medium enterprises). Prior to founding and leading LoobyLaw in 2018, Eldon was the Founder and Principal Attorney at the Law Offices of Eldon L. Looby. During his 12 years with that firm, he grew it into a small yet formidable office that was often considered in the company of larger firms with regards to the breadth and depth of its strategic and results-driven solutions. From 2006 through 2008, he led Looby & Sundaran, LLP as Co-Founding, Senior and Managing Partner. At LoobySundaran, Eldon oversaw that firm’s expansion and opening of offices in India, technology deployments, and led the firm’s Real Estate and Landlord and Tenant practices.
In this article, Eldon discusses the ins and outs of running a virtual law firm such as Looby Law, and the impact of technology on the business field.
How does being ‘virtual’ as a law firm help the businesses you serve?
I’ve found that my deployment of the ‘virtual’ law firm model allows all, and not solely my business clients, to gain the benefit of experienced counsel and on-demand convenience while staying within their often lean legal budgets. Since my firm primarily serves SMEs, these business owners tend to have non-traditional work hours. What I do is structure my firm’s availability so that I am available when they are available, whenever that may be.
I also treat my practice like a start-up. In this fashion, I am better able to relate to the business clients that my firm serves. Attorney and client are able to engage in an exchange of ideas that deepens the level of trust that they have in the expertise and capabilities of my firm, and feeling that we are in it together. This feeling grows beyond the initial representation or transaction and inevitably leads to a long-lasting relationship whereby our clients think of the firm as a trusted friend and advisor, often spreading organically into representation in other areas. My firm’s approach to its business clients and the virtual model also often results in reduced costs that the firm has to cover and that might be passed along to the client by way of high fees. My firm works with all clients, particularly SMEs, to arrive at a fee schedule that is workable for their budget which results in the firm generating a positive return on our business client’s investment in retaining my firm to handle their legal matters.
With the ever-changing nature of business and development, how should lawyers in the business law field be adapting their work, to ensure they are ahead of their game?
I’ve found that lawyers in this area must be willing to “think outside of the box.” Business lawyers should be actively considering new and creative methods in crafting solutions to satisfy their business clients’ legal needs. For example, traditionally, businesses wouldn’t dare to commence operations without an appropriately comfortable amount of seed money and access to a stable source for capital infusions. However, some businesses startups are embracing a mini or even micro-business model, whereby the last transaction or two is not only used for ongoing business operations, but is also the capital infusion source. The challenge in such an environment is for the business lawyer to not only satisfy the legal needs of the business, but to also stay profitable and competitive with competition from the likes of LegalZoom and others.
How has technology changed the business field?
Technology has and continues to change the way in which people do business. Businesses are able to speed up processes such as customer acquisition, engagement and communication, to name a few. Now, for example, even the smallest micro-brand can communicate to customers around the world with a tweet or Instagram post. When leveraged effectively, technology can make the playing field a bit more level even when competing against large or traditional businesses.
Technology also allows for a more streamlined business operation while still maintaining the essential business processes that are required. For instance, my firm utilizes e-signature technology (except where precluded by court process or otherwise) for retainers and other documents. This permits prospective clients to review the materials for signature at their leisure, and more importantly, without any pressures that may be perceived when signing in the office of a more traditional law firm. The technology provides for both law firm and client to have instant notification once documents have been signed and provides the parties with fully executed copies (with documented identity verification) for their records.
My firm also utilizes virtual phone services which allow for me to take any call or receive a fax communiciton whenever and wherever I am. There have been numerous occasions where I had been on a call with a client and had to leave in order to meet my next scheduled meeting or event. In a traditional PBX (landline) system, this would involve ending the call from the office and maybe picking up on a cell phone en route to the next meeting or event. With the technology my firm utilizes, I am able to participate on the call from a desktop phone or computer and if I need to head out to another meeting, can seamlessly switch the call to my cell phone and continue the conversation without missing a beat.
We also leverage secure cloud syncing in preparing documents. For instance, I’m able to write or research on my cell phone, then continue where I left off on a table and finish on the web or at a desktop or laptop. As an attorney, I am able to respond quickly to the often shifting needs of my client’s matters wherever or whenever they may occur. This is greatly appreciated by my clients. When my firm’s use of technology is coupled with our approach to generating work product (we ensure it is the best possible, often without extra cost to the client), this is what sets my firm apart from others and puts my firm in the company of larger firms.
From this, can you share ways in which this has impacted the legal sphere and the firms which assist businesses?
The legal sphere and those who assist businesses have had to adapt and find ways to integrate technology into their business models or run the risk of being eclipsed by others who have done it. Additionally, finding the right mix of technology that complements and furthers the legal services model without changing the nature of the business from what it is meant to be, is key. For example, in starting my practice, I took a hard look at the way I wanted to provide legal services. Being that I have a technology background and would start as a solo attorney, I opted for a mix of technologies that would allow me to work “smarter, not harder.” The result was my development and deployment of a customized system that is powered by technology and includes running the firm virtually, utilizing e-signature tools whenever possible so as to minimize consumables and secure cloud storage options.
As part of my regular practice, I constantly look at emerging technologies to see how they can be integrated and used with my existing systems and do not shy away from sunsetting technologies that do not allow me to provide the best legal services possible. In choosing the virtual office model, I had colleagues who thought that it would fail because it was not the traditional office structure lawyers are familiar with. However, my practice is thriving because clients (both prospective and existing) greatly appreciate the flexibility and ease of use when interfacing with my firm and the systems used to render legal services.
Which area of business law has struggled to keep up with these changes?
Processes, particularly in the business arena, tend not to be re-examined without a reason or business need (if it’s not broken, no need to fix it). However, as the demand for quicker access to business information increases, I believe that all business law areas will eventually embrace technology as that is what will be required for relevancy and survival.
T: 646 626 5252