Taking your office remote

A worksheet for quickly moving to a remote office.

Creating and managing a remote law practice requires some planning and forethought. And without a technical background, it can seem like an impossible task. Managing a law office is difficult enough in ideal circumstances. How do you lead a team in an environment that you are not used to? How do you manage your staff? How do you troubleshoot problems? Before we get to any of those questions, however, we need create the infrastructure for allowing your office to operate remotely. This worksheet is not the only way to move your office to a Work From Home environment quickly. There are many ways to practice remotely. Hopefully, this will give you a place to start, and a place to build from.

Assess your office’s ability to practice remotely:

File Management

In order to practice remotely, you will need to be able to access your client files from your work-from-home (WFH) location. If you work mainly in physical files, you will need to either transport those files to your WFH location, or you will need to scan them and put them into a location that you will be able to access from your WFH location.

Remote Computers

Connecting to your office network from a WFH location requires a computer to be present at the WFH location (obviously). Luckily, these computers do not need to be power-houses. However, it is likely that you will want to use Windows 7 or newer OS, or Mac 10.12 or newer in order to be able to download and install the Client-side software. Additionally, some Remote Desktop Software (RDS) do not support Google’s Chromebook OS.

install Remote access software

Remote Desktop Software

Remote Desktop Software (RDS) is a mechanism for you to access one computer (the Host) from a computer in a different location (the Client). It requires software to be installed on the Host computer and can be accessed either through a browser on the Client computer or a Client-side application. Most modern operating systems have RDS built into them, but they can be somewhat difficult to set-up for the uninitiated.


RDS providers will have the option to download two types of software, Host-side, and Client-side. First, you will install the Host-side software on the computer you want to connect to (likely your office workstation). Then install the Client-side software on the Work-From-Home (WFH) computer.

Purchasing Considerations

  1. Manageability
  2. File Tranfer
  3. Remote Printing
  4. Screen Share
  5. Remote Wake-up
  6. Multi-screen capability
  7. Two-factor Authentication (2FA)

Installation Considerations

In order for your WFH computer to connect to the Host computer, the Host must be on and running. Before you leave your office for your WFH setup, make sure that you have changed the power settings on your computers so they do not go to sleep or turn off. Windows and Apple users can follow the links below for help setting that up.

Windows Apple

Additional Considerations

This may be a big change for your staff. You want to make sure that you limit the complexity of any new processes that your team will be exposed to. One of the most common problems that we see is that this process adds one or two additional log-in events in your team member’s day. It may be hard to keep track of what they are logging into. Make sure you explain the process fully before you go remote.

Security & Ethical Considerations

When we transition to a WFH environment, we need to be careful of three specific issues that arise. One, securing the new connection to your office network. Two, vetting the new computer. And, Three, confirming that third-parties cannot access the computer at the WFH station.

Two-factor Authentication

A Remote Desktop connection is not an inherently insecure connection. However, now you have introduced a way that a bad-actor could log-in to your system. Be very careful with the credentials that your office uses, and add two-factor authentication to the log-in process. It is mildly inconvenient for the user, but extremely inconvenient for an outside bad-actor.

Securing the New Computer

Whether this new computer comes from your office or from a member of your staff, prior to installing RDS on the system and using it to view and edit secure documents and files, make sure that you run up-to-date anti-virus software and confirm that there are no known vulnerabilities on this new computer.

Third-party WFH access

Whether you have sent an office computer home with your staff, or they are using a computer that they own, you need to make sure that your staff is cognizant of keeping other members of their household from accessing, or viewing files and information in your system.

Determine your printing Needs

Printing Remotely

Managing office printing in a remote environment can be a tricky task. Many times in our offices, the team member who creates the document is not the one who needs to sign the document, nor are they the one who ultimately sends the document out in the mail. Adjusting for remote printing means not only getting the proper equipment in the right places, but also managing your document flow. When determining who needs to have a printer in their WFH office, and what kind of printer they need, you may need to determine who your office will handle each of the documents that you need printed.

What needs to be printed?

The first step in determining your printing needs will be taking an assessment of what sort of documents your office prints day-to-day. Do you send a lot of letters out to opposing parties or to your clients? Will you need to print checks to pay court costs or bills? Or maybe you send a lot of discovery documents through the mail. It would be good to make a list of the documents you plan on printing and then have your team members add to that where needed.

Who needs to handle the documents?

In a normal office, printed documents or checks can exchange hands multiple times easily. In a WFH environment, this is obviously not the case. Although you can mail documents to each other if need be, this is not an efficient way to manage your document flow. For each document that you determined you will likely need to print, find out who is required to handle that document and have it printed at their WFH office. For example, checks may need to be printed from a managing attorney’s WFH office, while simple correspondence can be created with the signature on them and printed anywhere.

Remote Printing Considerations


Everyone who needs to print will obviously need a printer. Additionally, you will need to send them home with printer paper, and enough toner to last until you can get more ordered for them. Don’t forget to send checks home with those who are printing and signing checks.


If you need to print a lot of documents from the Host computer, make sure that your RDS has remote printing capabilities. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time emailing documents to yourself just to print them out.


Remind your staff about the confidentiality of documents. Confirm that you have good shredding practices, and that no PHI or other sensitive information will be available for third-parties (members of the household) to see.

Re-route your phone calls and faxes

Office Phone Calls

If your office plans on staying in a WFH set-up for any extended period of time, you will want to look into forwarding your office phone number to a VoIP system that you can use through your internet connection. For day one, however, your best bet is to leave a voice message on your system directing inquiries and correspondence to a shared email address like info@lawoffice.com, and stating that you will return messages as you are able.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you test your ability to check your messages remotely by using your cell phone before you leave the office.


Turn your fax machine off. Once your machine is off, anyone attempting to send correspondence there will be met with a message telling them that their fax did not go through. If I have my way, you will keep the machine off forever.

If your office needs to be able to field incoming faxes, or send faxes to a client or court, you will want to forward your fax number to a service that will turn your faxes into .pdf documents like RingCentral, SRFax, or the like. These services will generally either send a .pdf of the fax to your via email, or it will have a terminal that you log into to check your new .pdfs. Choose one according to your needs.

Forward Office Mail through the post office

Forward your office mail

You’ll need to have the mail that would normally go to your office re-routed to another location. Look into USPS mail forwarding via the link below.

USPS Mail Forwarding

Practical Considerations

Where are you going to store your original documents? Who will be handling incoming checks and payments? And what location will have the shortest forwarding time? Does the person at the forwarding location have the ability to scan the documents ?

Ethical Considerations

Is the forwarding location secure from third-parties? Does this location have shredding capabilities?

Plan for Inter-office communication

Selecting methods of inter-office communication

When moving to a remote or WFH environment for the first time, it can be difficult to find a good flow for communicating between team members. Email can be too slow, phone calls can be overly-disruptive, text messaging can be extremely unorganized, and Instant Messaging Platforms can seem daunting. Each of these methods of communication, however, has its place and can be used in a way to optimize your inter-office communication. Keep in mind, though, what communication needs to be kept confidential, what statements need to be broadcast office-wide, and what needs to keep a good record.

Considerations when selecting

  • Do you commonly share confidential or protected information?
  • Do you need to share desktops, or show team members things in meetings?


Email will likely be the mechanism that most offices fall back on in a remote environment. It is familiar and relatively safe. The draw-back of email is that many people have trouble enough organizing their inbox and tracking tasks without an increase in traffic. Keep in mind, however, that when sharing sensitive documents or information, you must encrypt your messages.

Encryption for Common Email Providers

Below are links to information about encrypting with Gmail and Outlook/Exchange.

Microsoft google

Phone Calls

Although phone calls are often necessary to touch base with someone or to move a project forward, it is a disruptive method of communicating in the office, and it does not naturally keep a record of itself. Although the real-time communication aspect is helpful, Instant Messaging can provide almost the same level of immediate back-and-forth as a phone call with significantly less disruption. Additionally, you may lose time returning voice messages from your staff that could have simply been an instant message.

Voicemail to Email

Voicemail transcription is a helpful way to cut down on the amount of messages you have to listen to throughout the day. Many companies like Microsoft, Apple, RingCentral, and the big phone companies offier this service.

Text Messaging

Although it is unlikely that you can rid your office of text messaging completely as a form of communication, it would be wise to limit it only to times when a client needs it. Text messaging has all the detriments of Emails and Phone calls and none of the benefits other than familiarity. Of all the forms of communication listed here, this is the least secure, and is the most difficult to work with when transferring information into files or documents. Unfortunately, however, many of our offices are have to communicate with our clients through text. For those situations, I suggest a using a desktop app. It doesn’t increase security, though, just workability.

Text Messaging Apps

For those of you who can’t escape text messaging, I suggest you use a desktop application like MightyText, or Apple’s iMessage to keep track of important information.

MightyText iMessage

Instant Messaging System

Instant messaging apps, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, are likely the most unfamiliar method of communication listed here. However, they are the most versatile option of the bunch, and arguably the most helpful for a law practice.

Either through integration with third-party software, or just built-in, both of these applications allow for in-app video conferencing, organized and searchable messaging threads, the ability to restrict access to certain threads, and guest (read: Client) access to threads of your choosing. Additionally, they allow for sharing and storing of documents, organization-wide announcements, and user-to-user phone calls. All of this in a secure location that is already encrypted.

BONUS: You can see who has logged in and who is active – which is helpful when managing a remote team.

Instant Messaging Apps

Although there are many instant messaging applications out there, there are two that are leading the pack in other app integration. Slack and Microsoft Teams, at this time, are the most robust pieces of software available, and have the most options for integrations.

Teams Slack