These past couple of weeks have been stressful for businesses all around. And with new regulations in wake of COVID 19, we know you are working around the clock to find effective ways to take care of your staff and clientele in the face of challenges like working remotely and social distancing.

The good news is that we’ve seen some firms taking effective measures and seeing extraordinary success, even with traditional ways of business out of commission. How? Here are a few tips we’ve gathered from law firms across the country who are successfully adapting to the new business-as-usual:

1. Let people know you’re open for business.

In a crisis like this, many people assume that businesses are closed unless they find out otherwise. And the subsequent lack of outreach to your firm can have a misleading effect that there is no demand for your services—when there actually is. Using tools like text and webchat, overcommunicate that your firm is still open and taking new clients. This will help to prevent any slowdown that is perception-based rather than reality-based. 

2. Listen to your clients.

With so many changes and serious concerns about personal safety, your clients may have legitimate worries about traveling or personally attending court hearings, mediations, disputations, etc. Listen to these concerns, offer support and validation where you can, and try to accommodate their needs whenever possible. This will let your clients know that their safety is your top priority. “As lawyers, we handle the human side of client relations every day, and part of the goal is to take their temperature down when we can,” says Dayna Underhill from Holland & Knight LLP. 

3. Facilitate interactive online client meetings.

One way to protect your clients and maintain effectiveness is to move online. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to cancel your meetings with clients and staff. Transition your conversations to phone, video, or other online communication platforms. Using secure messaging, you can quickly send any documentation you may need to go over in your meeting. 

4. Host business development events online.

What is the most effective way to network and find new referrals in the modern age? Events. Around 67% of legal marketing professionals and 45% of attorneys reported firm-hosted events as one of the most effective ways to get new clients. And just because we are in lockdown doesn’t mean these events can’t happen. You can host many effective business development events online, including:

  • Seminars—hold a conference to provide training and/or update your attendees on legal changes in the area. Schedule networking time towards the end so attendees can network and connect with key contacts. 
  • Lunches—because many legal practitioners have very busy schedules, taking a lunch hour together can be an effective way to offer networking or training opportunities. 
  • Collaborations—pre record a collaboration with a business relevant to your area of practice. If you are an estate planning law firm, collaborate with a senior center to help attendees understand the needs of your clientele

5. Collect feedback through text.

After these events, or other trainings and client meetings, it is important to collect feedback from attendees to assess whether your event or meeting was effective. The fastest and most convenient way to do this is through text. Our research shows that the open rate for text is as high as 98% while email sits around 20%. With the right messaging tools, you can use personalized, automated text to get quick feedback and increase your effectiveness. 

6. Double-check your calendar.

With the break in daily routine and frequent changes in plans due to COVID 19, the risk that a member of your firm will miss an important court alert message or misschedule is high. Double-check that all of your messages have been evaluated and your calendar properly scheduled to avoid missing deadlines that could lead to malpractice claims. “In stressful situations, this is the kind of thing that gets overlooked, due dates and schedules and e-filing. You must make sure you don’t have any gaps in this area,” says Shannon Sprinkle, managing partner of Copeland Stair Kingma & Lovell LLP.

7. Maintain a connection with your clients and staff.

Using secure messaging, keep your clients and staff in the loop about upcoming meetings, trial dates, mediation, or document signing. Also keep your clients updated with any changes in business hours, or if you are moving to a work-from-home status as a business. You can even reach out to past clients with messages of hope and support to let them know their wellbeing is your top priority. Maintaining connection and transparency will help you build relationships of trust that will be even more important in terms of future business. 

8. Reach out to other resources.

If you are low on cases, consider reaching out to other businesses in your network and asking if they might swap referrals. If they are swamped and you’re looking for work, you might be able to work collaboratively with them or take some of their cases. You can also look to your local and state bar to check if they have a list of lawyers for the public and are in need of legal assistance. 

9. Equip your staff to succeed.

If you are already at a work-from-home status, you know that working remotely comes with its own difficulties; but if you set the right expectations and prepare your staff well, you can be as effective at home as you are in the office. Be sure to communicate expectations, even over-communicate them, from the beginning. The biggest risk of remote work is lack of communication. With frequent, transparent contact, you can work to ensure this does not happen. Another tip: don’t stop at explaining how you will be working remotely, but explain why as well. Doing so will help you gain buy-in from your staff and clients and will help them to view the transition more positively (resulting in greater efficiency and cooperation!).

10. Prepare for the rebound.

Though the pandemic has led to a decrease in business for some legal fields, others are getting ready for a spike. Use this time with your team to strategize the best way to field a flux in cases involving:

  • supply chain disruptions or debt restructuring consulting (and other financial matters) 
  • Contractual obligations (whether parties can be excused due to the health crisis)
  • Insurance claims 

11. Learn everything you can.

Now is the time to learn all you can about the outbreak and attendant disruptions and effects in order to increase your risk-avoidance knowledge. A great way to do this is to connect with insurers—insurers can offer valuable insight and information in terms of client concerns and guidance for responding to events like COVID 19, forming new policies (for things like remote work), cybersecurity, coverage for malpractice suits, and pro-tips about what other legal firms are doing to work through the crisis.  

Business is not coming to a halt. Not even close. With the right tools and mindset, you can keep your firm thriving—under any circumstances. 

Podium is giving small businesses across the country the tools they need to adapt in wake of COVID 19.

Wilner & O’Reilly has seen the power of text with increased communication and convenience for both staff and clientele, leading to a 4.9 online rating and 113 new referrals per month. 

“Now, most of our attorneys have the Podium app on their phone. The app gives clients the same access they had before but makes it easier to manage communication…We would definitely recommend Podium to any law firm looking to get more reviews and text with current and potential clients.” —Karin Ikeda, Marketing Director at Wilner & O’Reilly.

Elizabeth Gallagher
Elizabeth Gallagher Real Estate, Legal & Financial Services Account Executive

Elizabeth Gallagher is a real estate and legal professional at Podium, the premier messaging platform that connects local businesses with their customers.

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