With courts closing around the United States to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), law firms of all markets, sizes, and practice areas are being faced with a decision:
Find a way to adapt to this temporary way of life or shut down completely.
All in all, this global health pandemic has brought on the most significant onslaught of legal industry disruption since 2008’s Great Recession.
But, when you make the decision to run your own law firm, facing unexpected business challenges like these comes with the territory. To survive in this ever-evolving industry, you have to be agile enough to adapt to any crisis that comes your way.
While some people are responding to the situation with panic, fear, and other knee-jerk reactions, the most strategic and creative leaders are stepping up and finding innovative ways to move their businesses forward despite any inconveniences this disruption has created.
For law firm owners, this is a unique opportunity to show that you talk the talk AND walk the walk — but leading your team and your business through this crisis requires you to proceed calmly with a clear mind and a strategic gameplan.
This article will walk you through six things you can do to move your law firm forward during the coronavirus pandemic. By following these tips, you’ll be able to persevere and emerge from this crisis with a law firm that’s more stable, adaptable, and sustainable than ever before.
Tip #1: Don’t Panic
We get it: This is a scary time filled with uncertainty for everyone — business owners and non-business owners alike.
If you turn on your TV or visit any social media site right now, you’re bound to see constant negative coverage of the pandemic.
It’s okay to have concerns about how this global health pandemic will impact your business, your team, and the legal industry as a whole.
What’s not okay is resorting to raw fear and hiding away at home without implementing a strategic action plan.
Remember that your teammates are looking to you for answers about what to do next. You’re a law firm owner, not a health expert or global policymaker, so you probably can’t answer specific questions about the future outlook of the pandemic or exactly when your team can return to the office.
But if you approach this situation calmly and proactively, you will be able to deliver concrete answers about how your business will proceed during this time.
Before you get to work on your contingency plan, start by assessing the situation with a calm, clear mind.
You know the limitations you’re working with, and you know the resources at your disposal. Approach this new landscape objectively and you will find a way forward.
Tip #2: Adapt to survive
With a calm head and clear mind, you need to take an objective look at the situation.
Breaking news about the global health pandemic is released every day, and right now, the future outlook is uncertain. But whether this situation is resolved in six weeks or six months, there are still thousands of potential clients out there who need your help.
While you practice law, now more than ever you need to live and breathe the role of business-owner. And before you jump to conclusions about a lack of opportunity or barriers to success in this current landscape, examine the past…
Once this crisis passes, the best clients and legal industry talent will remember those who found ways to innovate. Those are the firms that will become the next wave of legal industry leaders, so you can’t afford to sit this one out.
The biggest logistical leap that everyone’s been forced to take due to the virus is the remote workspace. If you’re still looking for tools to aid with that process, there are some readily available options below:
- Virtual meetings using platforms like Zoom, RingCentral, GoToMeeting
- eSign services using tools like DocuSign, SignNow, and PandaDoc
- Electronic client file storage systems that your team can access remotely like Filevine and Clio
This situation is going to create a stratification of your market, one way or the other. If you’re able to operate virtually and continue operations, you’re automatically setting yourself apart in your market from those that could not do the same. This will show your community that you are willing to go above and beyond to continue serving them.
Tip #3: Stay relevant in your market
During this time, staying connected with your existing clients and top prospects is a must.
Many businesses around them have visibly closed up shop either temporarily or permanently. At this point, every existing client and top prospect of yours is expecting some sort of alteration to the operations of every business in their area, including yours. Take some time to update your contacts about your business hours and which of your services can be provided remotely.
If you don’t reach out proactively, those who are ready to work on their cases now will seek out help from the law firms that are keeping their audiences updated.
Keeping in touch with those you want to help can be as simple as picking up the phone and giving each person a call. Aside from those who work in essential businesses like healthcare centers and grocery stores, your clients and prospects are likely working from home, so they’ve never been easier to get a hold of.
You can also keep your clients and prospects informed by recording a video message and sharing it across your firm’s social media platforms. This will show your clients and prospects that you’re open for business and still available to help them with their legal issues.
Tip #4: Continue to improve your business
Depending on your practice area, there’s a very real chance that signing a new client isn’t even an option for you right now.
While it’s easy to define that as an exclusively negative circumstance, it’s crucial that you maintain a mindset of growth and opportunity as this actually presents a chance for you to transform your firm.
If signing clients isn’t an option for your right now, here are 7 things you can do to still contribute to your firm.
- Double up on content. Take the extra time to write more posts and create more videos. More content equals more engagement with your brand and social media consumption is currently skyrocketing.
- Start the newsletter you’ve always wanted to start.
- Start a podcast. By bringing in other members of your community and practice area you can build a network of influence while also making an impact on potential clients.
- Reach out to 10 of your best clients and have them send a 30-second video testimonial. Even if just filmed with a smartphone, these quick videos of real people vouching for the real value you brought to their lives is the best way to establish social proof.
- Write the book you’ve been putting off. There is no better way to establish credibility in your field. When it comes to companies to aid in this process, we highly recommend Scribe.
- Improve your business from the inside. Audit your processes, calls, and intake procedures. Most law firms are too busy with their day-to-day to really examine these components of the business. You now have the chance to take the time make long-term improvements that will allow you to come out of the other side of this as an all-around better business.
- Go and figure out social media. The wide world of marketing and advertising on social media can seem intimidating at times. But now you have an opportunity to really dive in and set up a powerful foundation that will pay huge dividends for your brand and incoming business.
No matter what, the best thing you can do is build your brand.
Nothing pays long-term dividends like building a brand that’s strong, credible, and supportive in your market. Putting out great content and creating value for your audience and your community is a surefire way to build a lot of trust and support, especially at a time when people need those two things the most.
Tip #5: Protect Your Health
You can’t pour from an empty cup — as you take care of your team and your clients during this time, don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.
Everyone is affected by the coronavirus, and nearly everyone’s at risk. Maintaining your physical and mental health is a must if you’re striving to sustain your business throughout this crisis.
Whether you stay healthy and grounded by exercising, meditating, or journaling, it’s important to find ways to maintain your routines as you adjust to your new work environment. If you’re working from home during this time, be sure to set aside time to enjoy your family, eat healthy meals, and work on personal development. This will put you in a much better position to lead with calmness and clarity.
Another aspect of taking care of yourself during this time is staying mindful of your mental nutrition. Unplugging from the news and the latest updates is vital. While staying up-to-date with the latest coronavirus news is important, it shouldn’t consume you.
Rather than get wrapped up in the 24-hour news cycle of this constantly evolving situation, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for an objective and scientific presentation of the facts, and then get back to being positive and productive.
If you fill up your mind with an overload of coronavirus messages, you won’t have any mental capacity left to strategize new ways to move your business forward.
Don’t be the law firm owner who knows exactly how many points the Dow Jones went down yesterday, but has no idea what’s going in their own business right now.
Tip #6: Reach Out For Support
A silver lining during times of fear and uncertainty is that they often inspire others to offer added support to those who need it. As a leader, it can seem like there’s nowhere to turn, especially when everyone else is looking to you for support.
There are likely other attorneys in your network who are finding ways to operate effectively during this crisis. Reach out to ask for advice, trade ideas, and brainstorm new ways to move the legal industry forward.
You can also reach out to us. We’re passionate about helping law firm owners identify and overcome their most pressing business challenges, and this global health pandemic is no exception.
Our Founder & CEO Michael Mogill is available to answer your concerns, share advice, and help you strategize new ways to navigate your business through the coronavirus pandemic. Feel free to text him your questions and concerns at 404-531-7691.
The Crisp team is also here to help. Schedule a time with us to discuss new ways to move your branding, your marketing, and your business forward during this challenging time.