If you’re in a leadership position at a law firm or running your own practice, the last few weeks have been an absolute gut punch.
As of early April, our family is in the midst of the fourth week of our quarantine and stay-at-home. It’s been a huge challenge.
When the we first realized the coronavirus was going to be a real problem, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t sleep well for multiple nights. There’s a lot of uncertainty, you have health concerns about your immediate family, you have concerns about your business and the economy. All these things are running through your head, and it just can be hard to just let it sink in.
Once you do get your head around it, now it’s about handling the reality. There’s a phrase the Marines use, and of all things, my mom has used it with me over the years, and that is, “Improvise, adapt, and overcome.” And so, every morning when I wake up now, the three words that I let enter my brain space are: improvise, adapt, and overcome.
What am I going to do in my firm to improvise, adapt, and overcome the coronavirus pandemic? I want to leave the pandemic stronger than we came into it as a firm. It’s a bold goal, but I’m determined to make it happen.
How are we going to do it? The list of things I’m going to do to improvise, adapt, and overcome is going to change, if not weekly, daily, at this point. But these are the three things that I’m starting with.
3 Tips for Law Firms During the Coronavirus
1. Focus on client service.
The first, I think, is probably the most important, and that’s becoming obsessive about client service.
The reason you want to obsess about client service right now is that your clients depend upon you, and they depend upon lawyers in their life to basically be backbones and rocks. When an email might have done before, it’s a good idea to pick up the phone and just check in on how someone’s doing.
In my firm, we do trademark work, right? We don’t do anything health-related for our clients, but every client’s business is affected by this. Every client’s personal life is affected by this. So, when I get an email from someone, it’s an opening for me to give them a call and just check in to see how they’re doing. To let them know they’re not alone. It’s an opportunity to build relationships with people that you might not normally have had.
Take advantage of that opportunity to build those relationships and be there for your clients. People are going to remember who was there for them in the tough times. And that may mean laying off the billing a little bit. It may mean that if you’re going to have a conversation that’s 30 minutes, maybe don’t bill the whole 30 minutes because you’re not talking about legal matters for the 30 minutes, right? You want to make sure that you’re on top of people’s financial concerns as well.
Be there for folks, and not in the sense that they’re paying you more money to be there for them. Making sure that you’re taking care of your clients and being on the phone with people is just so important in a time like this.
I’ve instructed all of the attorneys in our firm to make sure they’re picking up the phone, being sensitive about any money-related issues, and just getting back to people as quickly as possible.
2. Nurture incoming leads.
The second item on my list is making sure that we’re nurturing leads.
Now, there’s just not as many people contacting us as there was a month ago. That’s going to be a fact of life for a while. So, we have to do a better job of nurturing these leads. And, admittedly, we’re not always the greatest at it. A lot of people call and email us on a daily basis, and sifting through that and getting back to everybody is a very challenging thing to do for us. But now we’re getting everybody a phone call or email as quickly as we can. We’re not just letting things sit and waiting for people to come to us, which is really the luxury we had pre-coronavirus.
Make sure you’re following up with folks, too. Everybody’s super busy right now because they maybe have additional childcare responsibilities, or they’re trying to shift their work to their home. You may have to follow up with them a little bit to push those legal matters forward, especially if it’s in the nature of a lead.
That’s certainly something we’re working on a lot right now, and I encourage you to reevaluate how your firm is handling leads. I am personally jumping into a lot more of them than I usually would just to try to keep that pipeline of work coming as much as we possibly can.
3. Increase advertising spend.
The final item on my list is I’m actually doing a little bit of running into the fire. We’re spending more money on advertising now.
That’s a little controversial, only because I know some people are pulling back on advertising budgets. And, look, I get that. At a certain point, if you’re really not able to service clients or clients aren’t coming in the door at all, you may not want to spend a lot of money on advertising. But there’s still work out there. I can tell you, we’ve been taking in new work daily over the last 30 days, and it continues, and the world continues. So, if you’re not going to spend money on advertising right now, you’re going to shut down your avenues for new revenue, and that can be a very dangerous cycle.
You may get less work from the advertising you’re doing, but as long as you are making money and having cash flow, that could be reason enough to leave the advertising running. If you just shut yourself off from the world, you can expect your revenue to drop as well.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Again, I think it’s so important that everybody thinks of these three words every day: improvise, adapt, and overcome.
How are you going to handle this pandemic? How are your firm’s relationships going to grow with your clients through this pandemic? How are you going to come out on the other side of this, ready to hit the ground running when people are back at work?
We’re going to get through this. There will be another side of this. For me, it started with 9/11 when the world seemed like it was ending, in 2008 when the world arguably was ending again, and now here we are in 2020.
The thing that the first two major crises of my life, if you will, the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 financial meltdown, taught me is that if our country is going to be here in two years. There will be an economy, there will be people working, there will be work to be done, and life will continue. The chances of everything continuing and us seeing another side of this are nearly 100%. So, if you go in it with that and you just know that we have to make it through some hard weeks and months ahead, you just have to find a way to improvise, adapt, and overcome during these times. There’ll be good times again, good days will return. That is a guarantee. How you handle these times is going to be crucial to your relationships with your clients and folks in your firm when we do get back to those good days. So, just do the best you can, improvise, adapt, and overcome, and we’re going to be all right.
I’ll try to do a few more of these from our quarantined location here at my house. Again, thank you for bearing with me. In the comments here, please let us know what your firm is doing to improvise, adapt, and overcome in the current crisis. I think if we could share tips about what we’re all doing to just get through, whether it’s business tips or even mental health tips for how to handle everything on a daily basis, it would be incredibly helpful. So, please, please, please leave a comment, or email me if you have something you’d like to share, firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll share some of the tips that I get in during the next episode. Thank you so much. Stay safe, stay healthy, please stay home, and I’ll talk to you soon.