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COVID-19 has hit the legal industry hard. Large law firms have issued cutbacks, furloughs and layoffs, and many small law firms are wondering if they can remain operational in the suddenly bleak economy. Below is a brief outline of ways in which law firms can help themselves stay operational.
Panic rarely helps anything. Certainly, panic isn't the appropriate response to COVID-19. Still, it is clear by now that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on the legal profession. Law firms now have no choice but to get creative to provide excellent client service, improve efficiency, and make their business model more sustainable.
For example, can you implement payment plans for clients struggling economically? Can you be flexible in meeting with clients juggling their job and home schooling their children? Showing up for clients now, and providing invaluable help, can create a loyal client base for years to come.
Now is also the time to take a hard look at your business model. Is it sustainable? Are there ways to cut back? There will never be a better time to take stock of the firm's direction moving forward.
It is essential to keep employees and clients appraised of your situation. Remind clients that you are open and can meet remotely. Reassure staff that you are doing everything possible to mitigate the health and economic impact of the virus on your firm. We are all in uncharted territory, and many people are feeling isolated. Regular communication is vital.
Most legal work can be done remotely, including, in many jurisdictions, court appearances. While difficult, maintain as much of a normal routine as possible for employees and clients. It may not be business as usual - but getting it as close as possible will help to reassure clients and keep things moving forward.
We still don't know what will happen as the country begins to open up for business again. Clients may still feel more secure maintaining social distancing. Consider suggesting remote meetings as an option even after stay-at-home orders are lifted. The same goes for staff who are able and want to work from home.
Even when economic indicators were positive for 2020, many in the industry were anticipating big changes ahead. The current pandemic is accelerating those changes, and law firms are being forced to adjust on the fly.
Still, demand for legal services is growing. If you can weather the current tough times and find ways to continue to deliver for your clients, you can make it through.