Running a law firm in the best of times brings with it several challenges that require effective strategies to navigate successfully. However, the world is experiencing a crisis in the form of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) that is on a scale not seen for over 100 years. This has brought on a whole host of new challenges for lawyers and their clients. Necessity is the mother of all invention and running a law firm in today’s world means inventing solutions every day to address the needs of both lawyers and clients as we try to carry on. Many of the solutions are practical and simple and might be worth keeping in place permanently.
First and foremost, protecting the health of yourself, your family, and your community should come before anything else right now, but for law firm owners, the reality is that you must also make sure that you are taking appropriate steps to protect your business’ health. By doing this, you are helping others as well. For example, your clients’ legal needs must still be met during these times, and if your law firm fails, then those needs will go unmet and your clients’ interests will be jeopardized. The employees in your firm are also relying on management to take the appropriate steps to ensure that they are protected from the economic effects of the virus, with the most obvious concern being whether or not they will have jobs in the coming weeks and months.
So, what can be done? To start, let us look at the strategies that other law firms are already practicing. You are most likely aware of the explosive growth of services like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and other forms of video conferencing that are enabling millions of people to connect remotely. Many law firms have already been using this type of remote technology for video depositions or web conferences, but few have been using it on such a large scale. The reality of social distancing and working from home has opened many eyes as to how true the saying is that tells us how a simple email would suffice rather than a long-drawn-out meeting. Whether for a recurring meeting or a simple screen share to go over a document, these services should be used going forward to help bring people when physical meetings are not practical, safe, or even not necessary.
The sheer scale of how many people are working from home has also caused many firms to reevaluate just how many employees need to be in the office regularly. This is not to say you should be thinking about letting staff go, rather, you may be able to reduce the physical office space while keeping or even increasing the number of staff you have. In addition to freeing up physical space within your office, many employees value the flexibility that work-from-home options can give them, easing the burden on those who may need to be home due to injury, sickness, or to help care for children or loved ones. Whether it is full-time, or a perk available to employees for part-time use, using technology to allow more people to work from more locations is something that should remain when the current pandemic is over. Some of these safety accommodations will likely linger or become standard practices even after life returns to “normal”. Legal experts say embracing remote technology has boosted transparency, efficiency, access to the courts, and employee satisfaction.
The pandemic has forced litigators to consider how automation can help write pleadings. Law firms, mindful that their clients’ pandemic budgets are tightening amid the health crisis-fueled recession, are turning to technology for the busywork that can take up a lot of billable hours. Document template and automation software will deliver mobile phone text and email reminders to clients. The software will also automate follow up on unsigned contracts, waivers, NDAs, and other documents because unsigned documents can delay business. Document templates and automation software from Law Ruler, are part of legal CRM that offers an all-in-one solution that is easy to use and includes phone, SMS Text, and email marketing automation, online intake forms, and unlimited e-signature can easily be put in place in your office to help with social distancing while doing their due diligence.
Notwithstanding changed life circumstances and government mandates, lawyers must continue to be diligent during the pandemic. A lawyer should continue to act with reasonable diligence and promptness when representing their client. The many and constant changes to court schedules require lawyers to be vigilant about keeping and updating client files and calendars. Lawyers can continue to prepare documents, respond to discovery, or even settle matters working remotely. While the American Bar Association rules require “reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client”—it is realistic to expect that the ongoing health crisis will probably stall, delay, or otherwise impact the representation of a client depending on the case and the relevant circumstances, but it’s also reasonable to expect that an attorney will continue to pursue a client’s case to the best of his/her ability.
It is important to remember that attorneys must take steps to ensure they have in place reasonable measures to secure client data against unauthorized access. The technology that is used to access client data should be hardened against the increased threat of malware or third-party hackers, using encryption tools, antivirus technology, firewalls, and other security software.
Honest communication, flexibility, and adherence to best practices will help ease the transition as employees adapt to the new normal back at the office. Finding effective and efficient ways such as the software systems available from Law Ruler will help you run your law firm remotely during the coronavirus pandemic and can help your practice function during this period of social distancing. With a streamlined approach to new intakes, fast client interviews and on the spot contract delivery, Law Ruler helps with at-a-glance status on client contracts that are in process and who the process owner is which equals full team accountability. The technical support is fast and knowledgeable, and there are not any technical questions or issues that cannot be immediately answered or resolved. Make sure your law firm takes the necessary steps and precautions needed to ride out any future quarantines or restrictions. In doing so, your business will be in a better position to recover from any economic downturns that could follow in the wake of a pandemic. For more information on how your firm can better manage cases from intake to settlement, call Law Ruler at 1 (866) 607-7796 and start the process to safeguard your legal practice today.