Christina Blacklaws, Blacklaws Davis, London I read Nicola Laver’s article ‘Virtual firms thrive in the downturn’ (see  Gazette, 23 July, 12) with interest. As a firm we have embraced a hybrid model, which combines physical locations with virtual working. This has helped us grow to be the largest specialist family firm in the country. In my role as a Law Society Council member for child care I am very aware of the challenges facing family lawyers, particularly those handling both private and public funded work. High street firms are under immense pressure and we have found many experienced sole practitioners and teams within firms electing to join us. With the right technology, we have found that a person can be as productive (and much happier) working from their home as they would be in an office. Nonetheless, those who wish to establish virtual firms should never underestimate the amount of support that needs to be provided to their consultants. There are demanding operational and human resources issues to be tackled. One particular area that needs to be addressed is the culture. Working from home can be a lonely experience and, after the initial excitement has died down, solicitors need continued support to prevent feelings of isolation. It is these cultural issues that will determine whether virtual or semi-virtual firms are successful. With the right approach, however, I am confident they will provide a model that can successfully compete with new entrants into the legal market.