There’s been a lot of chatter on a couple law blogs about Rachel Rodgers, a 2009 law graduate with a knack for marketing herself. She’s licensed in New York and New Jersey but practices out of a home office in Arizona, where she’s not licensed; I’m not sure if it’s a “virtual law office,” because I don’t know what that marketing term really means, but I consider it to be one.

Let’s reflect for a moment on how novel that sort of law practice is. Not for Rachel in particular — she certainly didn’t invent telecommuting — but historically: until about the 1980s or so, it simply wasn’t feasible to practice law in a state on the other side of the country from where you live. These days, with e-filing and the ubiquity of email and electronic documents, running your law practice in a paperless manner like a “virtual law office” can often make it more efficient.

As Carolyn Elefant summarizes, Rodgers’ setup raises, but doesn’t necessarily decide, a few ethical issues. If, for example, Rodgers counsels Arizona clients, that’s a problem, because she’s not licensed there. If she represents or markets for New York or New Jersey clients, she has to be careful to follow their strict “bona fide office” and advertising rules. Like with the John Wait situation, another discussion over marketing for new lawyers, a number of law bloggers criticized Rodgers and her practice and its marketing; Elefant rounds them all up.

But let’s put that aside for the moment and jump over to medicine. Via Larry Ribstein (via Marginal Revolution), who wonders about the parallels to law, there’s the story of Jay Parkinson, MD, MPH:

Upon finishing my second residency at Hopkins in Baltimore in September of 2007, I moved back to Williamsburg to start a new kind of practice:

  1. Patients would visit my website
  2. See my Google calendar
  3. Choose a time and input their symptoms
  4. My iphone would alert me
  5. I would make a house call
  6. They’d pay me via paypal
  7. We’d follow up by email, IM, videochat, or in person

It was simple, elegant, and affordable for me to start. But most importantly, it just made sense given how we all communicate and do business today. …

Then, about six months later I got an official letter from the New York State Office of Professional Conduct. Obviously, that was unsettling. It essentially said that someone had made a complaint about my practice and my use of the internet. They wanted all of my records about the eight patients I prescribed narcotics for in my practice— I prescribed one time prescriptions for Tylenol #3 for eight patients treating their acute pain for various conditions.

Parkinson titles his post, “What happens to doctors who think outside the box?

So, what happened to Parkinson?
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