At the onset of my journey to a solo practice, I conducted a fairly informal market survey of my potential client base to see if a virtual office practice would work as well in a rural community as it does in the more densely populated urban areas. While my survey indicated that my potential client base was willing to accept some deviations from their concept of “lawyer” (such as flat fees v. hourly rates), they value the more traditional trappings of an attorney. Here, there is value in engraved letterhead and wax-sealed wills, in the formality of a wood paneled office and a heavy oak desk and there is comfort and confidence in that three piece suit and a good firm handshake.
I found that this is a community that still does business face-to-face and is one where impressions matter, especially when issues such as trust and confidence are involved. The virtual office concept falls flat because the web can never give the feeling of permanence that bricks and mortar provide. It does not matter that a virtual office means lower overhead, that brick and mortar office is permanent — you can trust permanence; you can have confidence in permanence. There is value in tradition.