Law firms generally get good business round the year with minor ups and downs. And then there are times of global recession too, which cannot be controlled easily. But you can find solutions to tackle challenges at different growth phases of your firm. Many law firms are striving to stabilize business while some are planning to boost growth post COVID-19. To get a clearer vision, let’s read what insurance experts say about their plans.
Reply 1: Cost-cutting with work from home continuation
Name: Julie Savarino, Accelerates Client Value & Experience, Strategic Client & Business Development
- Law firms are all cash-based businesses, so expenses are always top-of-mind and tightly controlled. Rent and real estate costs are one of the top 3 highest costs for all major law firms. So, many firms are considering ways to continue WFH. Many law firms are already actively reviewing their leases AND are (mostly informally) assessing which lawyers/staff remain productive when they WFH (a significant factor, b/c many “old school” lawyers are not productive or comfortable WFH) and how sketching out that might look in the future and potential cost savings.
- I discuss the above and much more in my new, 225-book, Survive & Thrive Post-Pandemic: A Guidebook for Legal & Professional Services Providers. Itcontains immediately usable and strategic information to help determine the next best steps for rebuilding firms and practices in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. I am donating 20% of the net proceeds from this book to Global Giving, www.globalgiving.org, a highly rated international charity which is the largest global crowdfunding community connecting nonprofits, donors, and companies in nearly every country.
Reply 2: Will focus more on lead generation and using technology for scalability
Name: Paul H. Cannon is a Trial Attorney and Shareholder at Simmons and Fletcher, P.C. in Houston, Texas.
Marketing changed during the stay-at-home orders for personal injury law firms. First off, the public became very sensitive to medical malpractice TV advertising because of the fact that doctors were on the front lines risking themselves for others. So, we had to drop those ads out of our advertising rotation due to complaints. Second, because there were not a lot of accidents happening. As a result, it was a more effective use of marketing to run positive branding ads–ads that encouraged and supported the frontline workers and the community in general. So, after COVID 19, we will turn our advertising back from primarily branding to lead generation ads.
Even before COVID 19, we had wanted to develop remote working capabilities so that we could open offices in new locations to service clients better. COVID forced us to solve all of the remote working issues no one could ever seem to find time to tackle. I see us opening new locations in the near future with zoom-ready equipment so that interviews may be conducted at convenient locations with prospective clients who may not have the technology or the tech-savvy to otherwise do a remote video conference.
Reply 3: Continue serving as a remote online notary
Name: Elizabeth Ricci, AV Preeminent Rated Immigration Attorney
I practice immigration law with my husband. We decided early on that we would regularly release videos on YouTube and announce important changes so as to be “top of mind” during the pandemic.
Since less people are in the car to and from work, we switched from public radio advertising to public television sponsorship and are heavily marketing on foreign-language television.
I also became commissioned as a Remote Online Notary. I hope that by helping non-immigration clients by notarizing wills, closings, etc., they will become an immigration referral source in the future.
Reply 4: Serve clients better today to make future bright
Name: Todd Spodek, Criminal Defense, Divorce & Family Law Attorney
I think being a trusted advisor to clients and prospective clients throughout COVID, and working with your clients to achieve their goals will ensure that you reap the benefits post-COVID. People remember who was there for them and who helped me them. Reach out to each client individually on the phone, listen to people’s issues, create practical easy to follow guides that clients can use. Defer payments or work out a revised payment plan. Negotiate fees. Ask for reviews about the firm online. Be a resource; when this all passes, which it will, they will remember and come to you.
Reply 5: Will leverage remote working and technology
Name: Orlando Sheppard,
Our firm has decided to embrace the shift towards remote work and use this opportunity to see if we can “trim the fat.” We will continue to work from home even after the stay at home orders have expired to determine if we truly need the office space. Cutting the expense of a physical office will be a huge move with an instant improvement to our bottom line. To do this, we are focusing on improving our systems and automation and increasing our reliance on software and third-party companies to fill in the gaps from being physically present in an office.
Systems improve the overall functionality and efficiency of our firm. By implementing systems, we are able to focus less on putting out fires and more on strategic growth. Rather than our firm functioning in random moving parts, it runs more like an assembly line, and we are able to operate. So, we are creating systems for everything we can think of. There is a system for answering the phone, for the intake of the client, for sending out a demand letter for an insurance company, etc. The better our systems work, the more we will be able to focus less on the mundane and focus more on generating business.
For our systems to work efficiently when we’re all in different places, we will need to rely on software and third-party companies to fill in the gaps. The simplest example has been the shift to videoconference platforms for consultations. Clients actually enjoy it. It gives them the personal touch of seeing their attorney with the convenience of not having to travel to our office. We are also looking into new (to our firm) solutions we haven’t tried yet. For instance, our firm is shifting to becoming a paperless office, but we get tons of mail. When we were in the office every day, it wasn’t much of an issue. Scanning mail was one of the daily tasks. When we began working from home during the pandemic, we would have to send a staff member to the office once or twice a week to scan mail. To me, this is not a practical long-term solution. So, we will likely engage companies that scan in your mail for you for a monthly fee. Although it is an additional cost, it frees up my staff’s time to do more high-value tasks than scanning mail.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has definitely been a tragic an unfortunate experience. But what it did do is force our firm to think outside of the box, find creative solutions and stop putting off ideas. It has jump-started our transition to systemize and modernize so that we can continue to grow.
Reply 6: Digitalization will continue to be a great help
Name: Jeffrey David Katz
Covid-19 has provided a transformational opportunity to re-evaluate how and where we practice law. Traditionally, lawyers worked collegially in office environments, but since the global pandemic has taken hold, we have increasingly moved from a workplace to a workspace.1. Embrace the opportunity. Online communications via Zoom and other video conferencing portals have become the new normal, and have changed consumer expectations as to how they connect and communicate with counsel. We have been virtualizing almost every aspect of our practice, from client onboarding via electronic scheduling systems, confirmations of appointments via text messages, and in-person meetings via video calls.
We’ve moved the needle further by delivering execution ready engagement letters drafted with Document Assembly software in real-time via DocuSign for electronic signatures, during our consults, and fast-tracking estate planning documents to clients for review as PDFs instead of cumbersome paper files. 2. Value the interaction, and not the location. Going beyond how we’ve innovated, we’ve shared these innovations with our clients and their advisors, who have been equally impressed with our systems and processes; our client intakes are up along with our client expectations.
We will continue to meet these challenges by sharing our experiences, successes, and failures to design outward, collaborative processes. We share our knowledge with clients through blogs, personal e-mails, online media, and conventional media.3. Provide more value to clients, and greater compensation to our staff–Critically, we’ve seen that how we practice is far more important than where we practice, as we are no longer constrained by office space, we can add staff without adding overhead expenses of rent, parking, and other office-related overhead.
Ultimately, we can reflect some of these savings in our rates, so we can deliver more value to our clients and potentially greater compensation to our staff. Reducing commuting time and travel expenses add real value to our staff; it saves them money on auto expenses, insurance, clothing, and meals, and provides more quality time for friends and family.4. Engage the client.
Reply 7: Remote working comes with overall benefits
Name: Jeremy Ben-David
“Our firm is well-positioned to grow based on the changing landscape of the law firm environment due to Covid-19. Since our inception, we have embraced a “work from home” philosophy and have never required office face-time. We view our team as professionals, and they are the best ones to determine whether they need to be in the office for a team or client meeting, a hearing, a deposition. Or, if they would prefer working remotely, whether it’s from home, the slopes in Colorado, or abroad in Europe. In our profession, it is quite apparent whether someone is getting their work done and representing their clients in the best possible way. If that can be done remotely while making our attorneys happier in the process, we should be encouraging that.
Additionally, while many lawyers at more traditional firms have either been laid off or seen pay cuts during this period, we have not had to take any of those measures. Our compensation structures for our attorneys allow them to share in the upside of their work while foregoing a more substantial base salary (and thus keep our fixed overhead lower than one would expect).
And, due to the entrepreneurial spirit of our attorneys and the risk they are willing to take, on average, they end up earning more than they may otherwise would. Therefore, we, as a firm, do not need to lay anyone off or cut salaries during a time like this, and this can be very attractive for recruiting efforts”.
Reply 8: Will continue using technology and supporting our community
Name: Jeralyn Lawrence, Founder of Lawrence Law – Matrimonial and Family Law
New Jersey is among the hardest areas hit by the pandemic, which clearly has led to a slow down of initial consultations. While I have no hard evidence of this, my experience tells me that many potential clients are still under stay-at-home orders.
As such, they do not have the space to start the divorce process, nor do they have anywhere else to go during the pandemic. Additionally, I suspect that many people are taking a “wait and see” approach as there is clearly financial uncertainty.
On the real-life side – there has been a growing increase in coronavirus-related matters with regard to domestic violence, custody and parenting, and the need to modify arrangements due to changes in employment.
We are focusing on how we can assist our clients, not just through their family law issues, but financially – as paying legal bills is a big concern.
My firm has been fully functioning, and we have all the necessary technology to service clients remotely while under stay-at-home orders. Initial consultations take place over the phone or through a Zoom meeting. I have conducted ZOOM mediations that have gone very smoothly. When this crisis is over, I think some of this technology will continue to be used – this will allow for my and my team to devote more hours to client consultations and meetings. The courts have embraced technology as well.
Lastly, our firm is very involved in our community. Just about every charitable event has been canceled or postponed. To fill this void in our firm’s mission, we have been buying dinners for the emergency room staff of local hospitals. In my opinion, these people really are heroes, especially in New Jersey, where our healthcare system has been overwhelmed in some areas. We will continue to support our community involvement but will focus on the needs of the community, not just the organizations and events we have supported in the past.
Reply 9: Client engagement through social media platforms
Name: Jacob J. Sapochnick, Owner, Law Offices Jacob J. Sapochnick
My law firm is making huge changes and steps to adapt to the new normal. And since my peers and I are all working from home at the moment, we are trying to reach out to our clients. I reach out to them through TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook groups. What my law firm plans to do now is to talk to clients using video conferencing. What I also plan to do is lower my fees so that I could reach out to those who cannot afford lawyer’s fees.
This would help me land more clients, and in the process, I would be able to reach out to other clients through word of mouth. I also plan to use the services of a technology consultant to help me with my website to create chatbots to cater to clients 24/7. And lastly, along with my peers, we plan to help more in the community. I believe this will not only strengthen our relationship with the community, but it will also show that our firm cares. And I think this could also boost my law firm post-COVID-19.
These strategies, plans seem quite effective and can be followed, but the desired result depends on proper implementation and process monitoring. In current times, law firms are also facing staffing issues due to several reasons. Considering remote working policies and advantages, many firms are even outsourcing some tedious lawyer-jobs. Amid the current crisis, legal process outsourcing has become a trend in the industry that is likely to grow in the coming years.