Depending on how your state categorized attorneys - as essential or non-essential workers - COVID was either a huge disruption or maybe just a slight change in your work life. But to your clients, it was more than likely a pretty dramatic adjustment.
Some clients had furloughs or layoffs entirely. Their financial outlook and security may have dramatically changed. Or, maybe not. They experienced serious illness or even the loss of a loved one due to COVID. Or maybe their health and that of their family stayed strong. But it's in this mix of experiences where the interaction of the human connection and the law need attention.
To maintain or even grow your law firm during this crazy time, consider the human connection and how support, increased communication, and flexibility play a critical role.
The need to adapt your approach to support your client is always part of being a good lawyer. Obviously, the first step in the process is to know how your clients are doing. Have they been affected financially? How is their health, and the health of their family members?
If all is well and no real changes have been experienced, at a minimum, clients appreciate being asked. Reaching out to see how they are doing not only reinforces that you care about them beyond the matter at hand, as a person, not just a client, but also that you care about them as a client. This simple gesture goes a long way.
If your clients have been affected, then it's time to really open up communication.
Be sure to let your clients know that you are available and open to increased communication. It's up to you to decide if you can provide that via phone calls, emails, or through a case management software platform and what, if any, related fees there will be. That's the tough part of the equation for attorneys. Your time is not free.
That communication goes both ways, too. If your client experiences further issues, they need to let you know. If they are concerned about budget, it's time to have that realistic conversation. Having these open communication channels goes a long way to reducing stress for all concerned.
And remember the basic niceties of showing appreciation for your clients, too. A quick thank you for hiring me as your attorney goes a long way, too.
The trick is finding a way to adapt to the individual needs of each client while maintaining your own sanity. The same possibilities around financial security and health are part of your experience, too. So keep that in mind. Be as flexible as you can be, given your circumstance.
This is the time to get creative and adapt as needed.
- Consider alternate billing options like extending payment terms or spreading payments out over more months.
- Leverage technology to stay connected while keeping costs down for clients.
- Consider the effects of pausing the legal work and discuss the potential impact with your client.
- Ask the client how you can help! Short of completing the legal work for free, be open to their ideas.
- Consider hiring a paralegal to help you with document creation, etc. so more of your time is spent practicing law and you can bill the client for the lower paralegal fee.
The law has always been about the human experience. It's about each individuals perception and need and how the law resolves those issues. In the current environment, the emphasis really needs to be on the people and their interaction with the law, which, at the moment, is demonstrated to them through you as their attorney. Do what you can, realistically.
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