CSS founder Leslie DuFresne provides a recap of a webinar titled Navigating the Coronavirus Pandemic: How Firms are Aiding Clients and Running Their Own Operations.  “Much of this book is being written as we read it” was the common thread of the March 2020 webinar. Leslie’s top takeaways include:

What should law firms be doing for their clients?

  • Offer a second lawyer to clients – now is the time to show clients you have the bandwidth to handle whatever they can throw at you and that you have a succession plan in place should you become unavailable
  • Take the lead on as much as possible for the client
  • Buy them time
  • Provide helpful, practical advice based on the client’s specific needs – stay hyper focused
  • Consider rolling out strategies that you used during the Great Recession that could apply now
    • Discounts – clients are worried about their economics as well and this shows you are sensitive to their needs and that you are looking at the long-term health of your relationship with them
    • Post-pone non-critical tasks to when their cash flow returns
    • Step up and provide “service” items at a lower cost – look for value-adds that can be provided by others in your firm that are not at premium rates

What should firm leadership be thinking about?

  • Shift the focus from the billable hour – the message to your associates should be that their top priority is to deliver excellent work product and exceptional service to clients (and if you have a breakdown in service, immediately acknowledge it and repair it)
  • How can your attorneys increase their bandwidth to take on more critical tasks for clients?
  • Reassess practice areas that have not been profitable and change course so that your firm is putting resources towards only those practices that are profitable and will help the firm weather this continued storm
  • Revisit the basics of how you do business and what changes you should make to position the firm for success – this crisis should be your excuse to deal with pain points inside your firm that you have resisted dealing with in the past – think people, processes and profits
  • Now is the time to reinvent into the firm you have always wanted to be – don’t be afraid to shift your strategy
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking these changes are only short-term – invest in turning these changes into long-term solutions
  • Focus on lateral hiring – be realistic in your hiring criteria, run the numbers to accurately predict potential profitability, revamp your onboarding and integration processes to ensure the long-term success of new attorneys
  • Speed up your internal decision-making processes

Other tips:

  • News has a very short life-cycle right now so yesterday’s content is now old news.  Continue to push out internal and external communications that is relevant to a 24-hour bubble.  Keep the focus on next level advice.
  • Make sure your firm stays up-to-date on issues at a group level. Consider implementing a daily reporting system that managers can update in real time (what issues came up, how it was handled, what managers should be thinking about, what procedures should we implement that lay the foundation for stepping things up in case this crisis elevates to another level).
  • Focus on mitigating business disruption and economic impacts.
  • Be mindful of cyber-attacks and enhance data security measures
  • The current crisis is not a time to abandon ethics – remind and refresh internal users of the firm’s policies if it’s been a while
  • Effective leadership during this crisis is critical. Now is the time for leaders to step up their game and guide the firm. Those that are not part of the solution should step aside or step down.
  • If you push out client alerts – forego plugs about the firm – that is not useful right now.  Clients are getting so many alerts that they can tell instantly if an alert will be helpful. Keep alerts brief, keep the focus on the client (how you can help them now and what you anticipate for the next 24 hours, week, month, quarter).
  • Clients will likely stick with firms/lawyers they already trust but they will demand excellence and expect all hands on deck. Change your business development strategies so the focus is on cementing existing relationships and not on chasing new clients.
  • Lawyers should now focus on slowing the room down a bit – help clients calm down so they can be strategic about where we are, what we are doing, and how we can position for the next round of changes.

And remember – people remember how you make them feel so ask your employees, clients and treasured business partners how they are doing.

I hope you found the above helpful. If you would like to talk through any of the items above, let’s connect.

Stay healthy.