An attorney’s guide to serving clients, instilling confidence, and thriving in the midst of the current pandemic
Life Goes On and Business Goes On-line
As a lawyer working on your own or as part of a small firm, it is not only important to continue to work with clients through this period but it is critical to keep new business flowing. While any small business owner might be faced with these diverse challenges, a lawyer also has a unique set of ethical obligations to uphold while handling clients’ most personal affairs.
Life will go on during this virus and so will the turning points in life when people need lawyers. In fact, people may be more in need of legal services than ever during this crisis. Market uncertainties, family dynamics, and even a reminder of one’s own mortality may make your clients anxious and motivated to look for solutions.
Additionally, as more people isolate themselves with family, work from home, and reduce their travel, daily interactions will transfer overwhelmingly to digital platforms. More and more people will spend considerable time online. In the midst of this pandemic many people will reflect on the current status of their lives and look into solving long-standing legal concerns. As an attorney, you need to maintain the cool, collected, and calm thinking you bring to clients’ issues as you face this crisis. Remember that you are representing a larger institution than yourself: for clients, you are the face of the American legal system, a system they want to have confidence in.
Not only will rational and calm planning help as you put into effect practical means to protect your everyday business operations, but it will translate into calmer clients, new clients, and a benefit to the community as a whole.
Not only are your existing clients counting on you to continue representing their legal interests, but you cannot afford to shut down completely for the weeks—or even months—that this virus might be a serious concern.
However, you and your law firm cannot afford to be part of the spread of the disease. Again, you have a greater responsibility to exhibit and practice common sense protocols to minimize the risk of infecting your clients, staff, and the community you serve. For up to fourteen days between contracting COVID-19 and feeling ill, an infected person can still, unwittingly, spread the virus. Some may never fall ill, despite being infected, but can still spread illness to those around them. Even if you are relatively young and healthy, your clients—older folks getting their affairs in order, an accident victim who has developed chronic breathing problems—may well be vulnerable individuals.
Establishing an effective communication plan to share with clients and prospective clients is essential. We recommend preparing a statement highlighting your firm’s response to this crisis and emailing it to your clients as well as publishing it to your website and social media. Your statement should convey your commitment and readiness to address your client’s needs through this time.
We recommend including specific tactics in your statement detailing the ways your firm will serve new and existing clients. For example, using phone conferencing and video conferencing to replace in office meetings, using secure email and document sharing services, and the use of the LiveChat feature on your website as a means of actively engaging perspective clients in real time are just a few easy ways to safely work with clients and keep your business moving forward without risk of spreading the virus.
Know that this virus may disrupt our lives, but we will get through this. Life and legal problems will continue and with potential downtime from work and school you may find legal inquiries actually increase. How you choose to handle this situation will impact your business and the message you convey to clients and prospective clients will make a difference.