Every leader encounters times of adversity.
Law firm entrepreneurs are no exception and those who will succeed after COVID-19 are finding ways to stay relevant, engage their audience, and press on.
While we don’t have a clear picture of the expected date or terms of when America will return to normal operations, what we do know is that there are millions of people facing hardship who will need legal help within the next year specifically in the areas of bankruptcy, foreclosure defense, family law, divorce, child custody, domestic violence, landlord-tenant and employment.
Initial reports show that, while legal search volume has dropped off, the dip has been minor in comparison to other industries. Additionally, in states where the curve has started to flatten, search numbers are stabilizing in what we believe to be the “floor.” An increase is predicted to begin as residents return to work.
That does not mean, however, that anyone should “sit around and wait.” In fact, the opposite is true. Law firms have an historical opportunity to refocus and prepare for “The Legal Gold Rush” as Jack Newton, Founder of Clio, described the practice of law after the coronavirus.
What are law firms doing to prepare?
There are four impactful initiatives that law firms can move forward with during this time to both stay engaged with current or potential clients and to serve the demand of Americans with unmet legal needs profitably.
1. Build a Brand with a Personality that Establishes Trust
People buy from people who they know, like, and trust. The leaders of firms who are maintaining or increasing market share are spending more of their time in front of the camera and sharing their stories, engaging with website visitors or on social media, and with written communication such as a weekly email update.
In doing those things, these leaders are establishing a more human connection with their audience. They acknowledge that the person on the other end may not know how they will pay their next bill. Bankruptcy practitioners are explaining how the protections of the bankruptcy code can work for them so that they can protect their families, provide relief from harassing creditor calls and have an opportunity to rebuild after the crisis. For the millions of professionals who have been laid off, furloughed, or find themselves unemployed for the first time, the bankruptcy process can be demystified. By educating and empathizing with readers or online viewers consistently, lawyers are able to quickly build a relationship and a connection with clients who may have an upcoming legal need.
2. Measure and Shift Marketing Efforts to Options that Drive Profitable Cases
Firms that are laser-focused on measuring the success and profitability of their marketing efforts will have a competitive advantage after COVID-19. Every new client and their ability to pay your full fee should be tracked in order to identify the most profitable sources.
To attract more of the clients you want to serve, and those who connect with your personal brand, you will find that overall job satisfaction and quality of life will improve for you and your associates. The only way to achieve that balance of consistent case volume and revenue is to be diligent about processes and systems. Firms that manage leads or intake with spreadsheets find it difficult to extract meaningful insights from their data. If you are able to work with a marketing expert, or if you can leverage technology that will track lead source, intake progress, conversion, and payment success, the analytics provided will quickly demonstrate your most profitable source of cases.
3. Adopt Technology to Engage Clients Online and Via Text
Long before COVID-19, consumer buying behavior changed so that a nearly instantaneous response from a business is expected when an inquiry is made about services. Firms that embrace the use of video for client meetings and text message reminders for appointments and payments are equipped to continue to deliver services during and after the virus.
While using a cloud-based practice management system is an excellent first step and requirement for operating remotely, a consumer law-specific CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform is recommended for lead generation, intake, and conversion as that includes tools such as SMS/Text Messaging, integrated eSignature, and payment processing tools.
4. Automate Processes that will Require People to Scale
An imminent challenge for law firms after COVID-19 will be the deluge of consumer legal inquiries coming through their websites and online profile pages such as Avvo, Facebook, Google, and Yelp. In order to respond, schedule, and qualify potential clients, many firms will rely on manual processes to be completed by staff.
Those manual processes are, quite frankly, not scalable. For law firms that have reduced staff during the downturn, there will be limited time and resources available to expand their teams in order to handle an increase in volume. Leaders who take the time to evaluate their current processes and build systems now will be best suited to convert the highest number of quality clients and then deliver the work.
Take this pandemic time to work on your business. Evaluate processes, refine your messaging, and adopt technology that will help you both to attract clients and to deliver work profitably. Leading during the current time is a taxing responsibility and one that will truly separate you from your competitors in the long run.
To learn more about Bridge Legal and how we are helping law firms maintain momentum and plan for their future, schedule a free strategic growth assessment and platform demo here.