The COVID-19 pandemic upended many industries, including the legal industry, where law firms have had to adapt fast to an entirely new way to work. As with most momentous upheavals, the sudden and radical adoption of remote work and sudden change of way of life has brought new risk management challenges for law firms.
Statistics published by Statista reveal that most legal professionals agree that the pandemic has completely changed the way legal firms operate. There is no old ‘normal’ to which we can go back. Law firms that have been creative enough to invest in state-of-the-art technologies to stay available to their clients sailed relatively smoothly through the first three waves of the pandemic.
This post highlights five ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has upset the legal industry and potential solutions that leading law practitioners have taken to deal with it. If you run a law firm in the United States, these five solutions will help your firm prepare for success in a difficult time.
Let Your Clients Know You are Open for Business
The situation post-COVID-19-crisis has left many people making different assumptions about everything. Where business is concerned, most of them will assume an organization is closed or changed after such a long time unless they are informed otherwise. The most proactive law firms maintained an open line of communication with their existing and potential clients – often to keep them in the know that they are still providing legal services when needed.
Modern communication tools such as Zoom, and webchat are simple ways to let clients know that your firm is operational and taking new clients. Even as the effects of the pandemic on society continue to slow down, the perception may still linger among people, and legal firms must change it.
Use Modern Tools to Facilitate Interactive Online Client Meetings
Law firms breathe and live in-person networking. Using in-person online meetings and virtual conferences is something many professionals in the industry have had to learn. However, with the social distancing rules in place and organizations being urged to keep physical meetings to a minimum, firms have had to embrace the use of collaborative technology tools to hold meetings.
Planning and hosting virtual meetings may promise efficiency and valuable discussions on paper, but the actual meeting is nothing but many times. Most legal practitioners have had a sharp learning curve on how to use virtual tools to consult a client or even hold a court session. They have also had to change how they communicate with clients, especially since online virtual communications leave little room for informal talk and reading body language.
Cloud-Based Time and Billing Software Saved the Day
An article posted in the ABA Journal in mid-2020 pointed out that maintaining financial stability and a healthy cash flow was one of the biggest challenges that legal firms faced during the pandemic. While there may be many reasons why firms suffered – including court closures and interrupted workflows, a lack of dependable billing software may have also played a significant role.
Legal firms that use automated time and billing software noted less impact of the pandemic to their operations. After all, firms that used sophisticated software to track their clients’ billings and ensure efficiency and timelines in invoicing had fewer cash flow problems.
Cloud-based legal billing software made it easier for firms to transition to remote-based work, making it easier for practitioners to keep working and charge clients for their services. It also significantly improves utilization, realization, and collection rates to keep the firm’s cash flow healthy.
Embrace Welcome Remote Work and Offer Employee Flexibility
The legal profession is one of the most rigid – always being among the last to embrace change. A typical law firm would not implement remote working and especially not promote employee flexibility.
The pandemic changed all that. Many firms today encourage their staff to work from home and approach a work-life balance more casually. Other firms have managed to strike a balance where staff combine on-premise and remote work for flexible working and improved productivity.
As the world gradually begins to heal from the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations providing legal services realize the benefits of employee flexibility during work. They now realize that with a little sacrifice, the firm can give staff space to take care of their health, spend time with family, and still fulfill their professional duties.
Put Greater Emphasis on The Clients
If you are looking to spur growth in your legal firm, one of the most straightforward ways is to invest greater emphasis on your relationship with the clients. Rather than constantly worry about customer concerns or continually solve firm problems, your firm should spend more time supporting clients encouraging and helping them.
Everyone has had a hard time during the pandemic, more so ordinary people seeking legal solutions to their problems. Unlike most other industries, the US legal profession has emerged from the pandemic with its head high. In some cases, being there for your clients may be as simple as sending a text message or collecting feedback to learn how best they prefer to be served.
Legal firms have proved to be very innovative in dealing with emerging problems and have been very resilient despite the difficulties. A firm that can survive a pandemic should use modern technologies to reach its clients and prove that they are their trusted partner no matter what they have to deal with.
There is a lot that the world has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, top among them being that individuals and organizations are always ready to adapt to change. Many legal firms in the United States have adapted well to remote work and business interruption.
Many are still switching to the new way of life to stay competitive. If your firm is still trying to find the best services to help it grow and stay competitive, consider signing up for a 14-day trial of LawBillity’s legal time and billing software and find out how seamless time tracking, and client billing should be.