As a company that speaks with lawyers every day, we understand that a lot of you are struggling right now. We know that many of you out there have been experiencing a decrease in calls to your practice, and a lack of new client opportunities. It’s undoubtedly a scary time to be a business owner, and many growing firms that came into the new decade feeling optimistic, are now just hoping to avoid closure.
Since there isn’t an end in sight for this crisis yet, most attorneys can’t really afford to take a wait and see approach with their business. While now is not a time for lawyers to act desperately, it is a time for them to take action. In this law practice management blog post, we’ll discuss some things lawyers can do to increase their new client opportunities during the coronavirus outbreak, while continuing to follow stay-at-home guidelines.
Touch Base With Past Clients
Here is something for lawyers to consider: Does your community even know that your firm is still open? While this question may sound absurd to even ask, the average person likely has no idea how the legal industry is proceeding during this time, especially with so much of the world they know being put on pause.
Staying in communication with former clients is always a good practice to follow, and during this time it is an absolute necessity. You should absolutely be putting aside time in your work week for making phone calls and sending out emails. Now when we suggest reaching out to past clients, that doesn’t mean directly selling your services to them. Most people will see right through such an act, and think less of your firm for trying to take advantage of this situation. Instead, call and email your former clients to simply see how they are doing. Let them know that your practice is still up and running, and if they have any questions about dealing with the current crisis, you’re always happy to talk. You can also inform clients on how your practice is going about communicating during the pandemic, whether it be through phone or video chat methods.
Most of these conversations won’t immediately result in new business for your firm, but by offering support during this difficult time, you’ll remain top of mind with people who may need your services in the not so distant future. The end result could be previous clients looking to hire you again or an increase in referrals. Also consider reaching out to prospects who previously showed interest in using your firm, but for whatever reason never ended up moving forward with your services. Just remember to follow the guidelines presented in this section and not dive into your typical sales pitch.
Inform Your Community
Lawyers aren’t just the leaders of their practice, but are important leaders in their communities as well. The average person right now is desperately seeking more information as a way to combat the fears they have about this on-going crisis. As an attorney, you more than qualify as an expert source, and should take the time to shed light on the many new legal problems created by the pandemic.
Before reaching out to people with information, you’ll want to do research and find out what issues your target clients seem to be most concerned about right now. This process will probably involve getting on the phone and talking with former clients and others who are relevant in your industry. Once you’ve identified what your audience is struggling with most, find places online to publicly address these issues, and provide people with information that will help them get through the situation. Don’t worry so much about giving away too much free advice. Right now the best way for you to get new clients is by building trust, and one of the best ways to accomplish that is by giving people valuable legal information they can’t find anywhere else. Establish yourself as an expert, and people will want to talk to you more.
Don’t Forget About Marketing
While reaching out to former clients is a great idea, you should also continue marketing your services to new clients. Just about every marketing expert we’ve talked to in the past few weeks, whether it be Ben Glass, Andrew Stickel or Michelle Calcote King, says now is not the time for lawyers to go dark on their communities. Law firms should continue to do things like creating new content, promoting their firm on social media, and sending out newsletters.
Now should attorneys be marketing in their usual fashion? Absolutely not! If your marketing is going to center around why your lawyers are the best, or really anything outside of offering support for your community, you shouldn’t even bother. Instead, start developing informative blog posts and videos to share on your website and social accounts. Have your blogs and vlogs answer the many questions your clients are asking right now, and end them with a reminder that your firm is happy to hop on a call at any time (throw out the word “consultation” for now).
If your firm has yet to start making videos, now is a great time. No one is expecting commercial level quality right now, as most people recognize the restrictive nature of producing new content from home. All lawyers need to do is sit in front of the camera on their laptop or phone, put on a semi-nice shirt and start talking.
The top line message here: Keep finding ways to provide value through your marketing, and you will eventually see people start calling in again.
Start Planning For The Future
It may be awhile before lawyers are able to operate business as usual, or anything close to normal. However, attorneys should see increased opportunities to participate in court cases in the coming weeks, as the legal world seems to be transitioning to holding cases through video and teleconference technology. With this in mind, take the time to make sure your firm is technologically prepared to present cases, and have everyone on your staff do the same. Work out connectivity and audio issues now, and find a nice quiet place in the house to operate from. You don’t want shouting children to weigh in during an important verdict.
Learning how to handle video tech is just one of many things attorneys should be doing right now to prepare for the rest of the spring and beyond.
Lawyers should also be…
- Working on their website. According to a recent ABA Journal article from Larry Bodine, “96% of people seeking legal advice use a search engine, and 74% of consumers visit a law firm’s website to take action.” This piece of information gives attorneys two goals to accomplish. 1) Get your website ranking high for the keywords your clients are currently searching for. 2) Build an impressive looking website, with content that will push site visitors to take further action with your firm. There are not networking events to attend, and putting up billboards right now is pretty much pointless, so do whatever it takes to get your house in order online. If no one is calling your firm right now, and your website is in desperate need of a makeover, you only have yourself to blame.
- Reaching out to local media. Appearing as an expert source in a news report is one of the best ways to showcase your legal knowledge to your community. Right now, journalists are constantly seeking out experts to talk to about this current pandemic, and consumers are following the news closer than ever. With this being the case, you should be sending out emails to media members that cover topics that are relevant to your field, and letting them know that you’re happy to provide expertise on any stories they’re working on. You can even go a step further, and pitch members of the media stories to write about. As Andrew Stickel noted in our recent webinar, the more work you can do for a reporter, the more likely they’ll be to feature you in a story.
- Getting ready to handle clients virtually. Once people do start calling into your firm, you’ll need to be prepared to manage their case in a way that eliminates the need for in-person visits. This means being able to collect payments from clients electronically, communicate with clients through a variety of different virtual methods, scan and send out documents from your home office, and get documents notarized online. In order to meet the needs of clients during the pandemic, you’ll likely have to invest in new technology. We recommend checking our lists of top legal softwares and apps lawyers need to be using.
Following the law practice management advice above should lead to your firm seeing more new client opportunities. As calls to your office start to rise again in the coming weeks, you’ll want to make sure your firm is making the most of every new lead. This is why now is a great time to get started with a free trial of Answering Legal. Our 24 hour virtual receptionist team is ready to answer any calls your firm can’t get to, and give your clients the live support they are desperately seeking during this time. Our service provides several additional features that will help you in serving existing clients and winning over new clients during the pandemic. These features include full legal intake, appointment scheduling, bilingual phone answering, advanced message taking, and live call transferring.
Regardless of whether you decide to reach out to our service, we hope you and your loved ones remain safe and healthy during this challenging time.