The entire world has been struggling to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus, and the legal industry is no exception.
Every lawyer and their law firm is looking to refine and redefine its internal and external processes to ensure smooth business operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
So, let us get started and figure out what all strategies are being adopted by the industry experts to deal with this challenging situation.
Reply 1: Will continue with the digital approach
Name: Jennifer Jancosek, Founder and Principal Attorney at Jancosek Law, APC
I am an estate planning lawyer and law firm owner in the Los Angeles area.
Since I often work with new parents and the elderly, I do not plan to deviate from our new COVID-19 procedures which include virtual meetings and in-person signings for legal documents outside my clients’ homes.
I rented three office suites before COVID-19 throughout Southern California in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange County. Once I received news that the coronavirus affected the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, I ended my leases and instead opened a business mailing box.
At our firm, I moved forward to providing digital services and using digital marketing and do not plan on going back.
Reply 2: Virtual interactions will be on the rise
Name: Chuck Roulet, Top-Rated Estate Planning Attorney | Business Organization & Planning, M&As, Litigation | Licensed in FL and MN
I am an estate, elder law, and asset protection planning attorney licensed in Florida and Minnesota.
I am anticipating that as the restrictions are eased, some people will want in-person meetings while others have become comfortable with virtual meetings on platforms such as Zoom and may prefer meeting and interacting virtually.
I am also anticipating that states and bar associations will continue to make virtual interactions easier (as many have during the pandemic), such as virtual execution of documents.
We are set up to assist our clients either way based on their preferences. We are also anticipating an increase in business as clients look to preserve and protect their assets for themselves and their kids as the pandemic has caused many more people to realize that they need to do so.
Reply 3: We will continue offering remote services post-crisis
Name: Ken Eulo, Managing Partner at Smith and Eulo Law Firm
“In a post-COVID-19 world, we will be back in the office, and our physical services will resume. However, we have decided to continue offering remote services in order to open up our availability to a wider range of clients.
Our remote services kept our law firm alive during the pandemic, and we believe offering these services post-pandemic will be a great opportunity to gain additional clients.”
Reply 4: I look forward to shifting from litigation to a transactional practice
Name: Brian Pendergraft Attorney at ThePendergraft Firm, LLC
Post COVID-19, I plan on diversifying my services so that my law firm’s revenue is pandemic-proof. Prior to COVID-19, I was a “the riches are in the niches” kind of attorney.
Perhaps I was right to think that way, but I choose the wrong practice area.
The large majority of my revenue comes from eviction and foreclosure litigation. With the courts being closed, my cashflow from litigation work has come to a halt.
But even when the courts are back to normal operations, eviction moratoriums may still be in place and slow down my practice. For this reason, I need to pivot my law practice so that I am pandemic-proof before the next global pandemic.
My plan is to focus more on the service offerings that do not require me to go to courts, such as business organizations, real estate transactions, and estate planning. By transitioning from a litigation practice to transactional practice, I will be perfectly prepared for whatever the future may bring next.
Reply 5: One client at a time for the office meeting
Name: Jordan Peagler, Partner, MKP Law Group
“We plan to keep client office meetings to a minimum, wherever possible.
In the past, whenever we prepared a client for deposition, we would do so in person in order to get them comfortable being in a law office setting and used to the types of questions they will face in a deposition.
Doing so in person allows us as attorneys to see our client’s body language, reactions, etc., so we can help prepare them to give their best deposition testimony.
We will schedule only one client at a time in the office and construct plastic barriers at the reception areas.
Lastly, we will use remote systems whenever possible, to conduct virtual mediations and depositions.”
Reply 6: Office space reconsideration is required
Name: James C White, Attorney at JCW White Law Group
Because my practice is a unique blend of business bankruptcy and financial litigation, I am just starting to see what I expect will be a surge of Chapter 11 small business bankruptcies. Because what I expect to be increased business, I will likely have to staff-up in the fall.
This time has made me think differently about hiring, though. I expect that I will keep a smaller physical office with more people working remotely. And once my lease is up, I will probably re-imagine my space around this new model.
Reply 7: We will leverage the work-from-home scenario
Name: Eric Terry, plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer
The COVID-19 pandemic caught everyone off guard. The pandemic and subsequent shutdown were not events that a majority of businesses – including law firms – were prepared for.
Fortunately for TorHoerman Law, the transition to ‘work from home’ was a smooth process.
We have spent the past several years transitioning our firm to be able to work remotely by creating a strong, cutting edge technological-based work environment and providing the necessary equipment/training to our employees to thrive in that environment.
Because of the significant amount of travel required by our law firm’s litigation practices, our attorney-staff must be capable of working remotely on a frequent basis.
Our law firm also strives to provide our employees, who have proved their ability to work remotely, the opportunity to not be tied down in the office on a day-to-day basis. We understand the importance of our employees to be able to work from home so that they can have a good balance of family and work in their lives.
Reply 8: Digitalization is imperative for the present and future
Name: Kelley Keller, Esq., Adjunct Professor of Law at Widener University Commonwealth Law School
Our law firm helps thought leaders, subject matter experts, and business owners transform their specialized knowledge and experience into wealth-creating assets through intellectual property monetization strategies.
We focus primarily on content and brand monetization strategies, so we are used to working with clients throughout the country (and internationally if those clients are leveraging IP assets in the US), as opposed to a primarily local clientele.
We have been holding client consultations and Zoom meetings for approximately 18 months and have hastened our plans to become a cloud-based paperless law office by Q3, 2020 in light of COVID-19.
Here are some specific changes we are making:
- Receiving inquiries via phone, text, Fb Messenger, and live chat to increase efficiency and lower the barrier to entry.
- Using online booking of consultations and progress meetings more frequently
- Shifting to cloud-based document management and secure client portals for document sharing
- Adopting a law firm-specific CRM for lead nurturing and management
- Using innovative ways to help clients manage their business asset portfolios using readily-available and “easy-to-use” tools such as Trello, Slack, and Google Drive. We use paid plans to ensure enhanced security.
- Creating a learning portal to provide clients with ongoing educational resources to support them in their post-COVID-19 planning.
- And, we are also revamping our privacy practices and cybersecurity policies to ensure the proper level of care is being taken with respect to client data.
Reply 9: Coronavirus will help lawyers benefit from their other skills
Name: Amy Impellizzeri, Reformed corporate litigator & award-winning author
The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting effects within the legal profession have provided a catalyst for an accelerated rate of change. There has been an unprecedented shake-up in the legal industry itself, leaving many to wonder if there is indeed a place for them outside the law.
Unlike an MBA, most people view JD as a degree that only helps people practice law. There is space now for those who can pivot intelligently. Lawyers can learn which talents they most enjoy using and how to market those skills effectively to non-legal employers.
For instance, experts at The Capital Law Firm say lawyers tend to excel at communication, analysis, problem-solving, persuasion, and getting buy-in from senior decision-makers — all skills that are immensely valuable in every industry.
The infinite career potential for lawyers post-COVID outside of the law is the focus of Brown and Impellizzeri’s How to Leave the Law (Wyatt-MacKenzie, 2022), the first-of-its-kind handbook for the modern transitioning attorney.
Conclusion: Law firm growth plan post-COVID-19
Every lawyer and the law firm has been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or the other, irrespective of its size.
Most of them have adopted the use of technology to streamline their processes and communicate with their clients.
Also, law firms are now looking forward to continuing the digitalization of their processes owing to the benefits they are reaping in the present.
However, certain back-office tasks are and will continue to consume the time and effort of lawyers at large.
An effective approach here can be to outsource legal back-office tasks to professionals and free up a considerable amount of time to focus on devising growth strategies and providing enhanced client serving.
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Eliana Manon is a legal writer and marketer for Legal Support World, a California based LPO, since 2008. Providing legal back-office solutions to law firms and legal professionals nationwide, she is a certified attorney committed to providing information that lawyers need to make successful relationships with their clients.