So many things have changed for so many people and businesses. The new normal, which is clearly not 'normal', certainly represents some challenges. But it has a lot of great opportunities, too. To make the most of it, focus on the basics. Focus on the person. That's always been the key and is even more important to grow your law firm now.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may still be in full shelter-in-place or in some phase of re-opening. Most people are staying home as much as possible or gathering in small groups. It's tough to connect in person, obviously. Even with this smaller public world, connecting is easier. You need to simply be there when they are looking for a lawyer. Most people are connecting solely through electronic methods. So, how does your online profile look?
Website & Contact Information
If your law firm has a website, be sure it is updated with contact information that is actively monitored. Avoid the dreaded 'leave a message' when providing a phone number, asking the potential client to wait for a call back. Of course, sometimes, it's simply unavoidable. But if you can, try to answer those calls.
For email, set up an automatic reply letting the sender know that the message was received and when they can expect a response. But sure to live up to that timeline, though. It's always a good idea to give the potential client a backup contact method, too.
Now more than ever, try to use social media to get across some of your 'personality'. Yes, lawyers need to be serious and professional. But remember that these potential clients are also looking for someone they feel comfortable with. So have a little fun... nothing crazy.
Use your social media channels to share some educational content. Are you a bankruptcy attorney? Write a blog or film a little video of yourself explaining the difference between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7. Family law attorney? Explain the difference between an Uncontested Divorce and a Mediation. You get the idea.
Getting to know you... and them
Your first call or video chat is scheduled. Of course you are prepared and ready to go. Be sure you allow time - maybe a bit more of it, actually - for the potential client to get their information off their chest. They may be feeling even more anxious about the legal issue during this crazy time. Financial struggles are real for so many people who are going through job loss, etc. You don't know if they have a family fighting COVID or other serious illnesses. So for this initial meeting, give them plenty of time to kind of just get stuff off their chest.
We know you are busy too. And there are only so many hours in the day. But an extra 5 minutes really will help them... and you. Building a strong connection with the person - whether they hire you or not - will lead to good things down the road too. You never know when a contact of theirs may be looking for an attorney. People remember you when they feel you cared and listened. After all, there are a lot of lawyers in the world. Be the nicest one they meet.
Managing the Case
Everyone is busy. It's one of the funniest things about the shelter-in-place. Days fly by... faster than they used to from our experience. And everyone is multi-tasking with kids at home, etc. Days can be hectic and disjointed. That's tough on attorneys and clients.
Be sure to provide clients with access to their case so they can answer their own questions - or at least some of them - through a case management software platform. Whether you choose SimpleLaw or someone else, providing a client portal gives clients peace of mind knowing they can log in any time to see how their case is going. From your perspective, time tracking, invoicing, and online payments are simple and saves you a lot of time. That way you can actually work on the case, not the administration of your practice.
Some attorneys offer set times for clients to call-in. It's a first come, first serve kind of thing. So every Thursday from 10am to 2pm, you block your calendar and do nothing but take calls. You can schedule them in advance or just pick up when people call. Outside of that window, clients are asked to email or message the attorney through the platform. With this approach, you schedule time to connect with clients and by doing that, have more time to focus on doing the legal work.
During the entire process, remember that your clients are likely more anxious now. Focus on the person you are dealing with and their experience. No, you aren't a therapist. But simply letting clients get their thoughts off their chest will be a relief.
As for you? Be sure to keep your anxiety down, too. SimpleLaw has several resources (scroll down a bit...) available for you, including meditation practices and some great workouts you can do in the comfort of your home with nothing other than body weight or maybe a bag of books or toys. Be sure to take care of yourself, too.