As a man in his mid-40s I can say with certainty that these last 3 months have been the most unique/scary/impactful time period of my life. And the impact on a legal services business has been significant too. But a lot of these changes that we’ve seen have been coming however slowly for years. A crisis accelerates change. And, change/crisis also offers opportunity.
The question that has been guiding our thinking:
What does the COVID-19 crisis make possible?
Invest in Clients. At the start of CV19 era, we created an internal, CV19 Opportunity Memo, that guides internal leadership of the Firm. Bullet point #1: Keep Current Clients Happy. We’ve been able to communicate more and do ‘deeper’ client work than ever before because CV19 eliminated a lot of the wasteful, unnecessary court appearances…this has been WONDERFUL. Plus, new client business in March/April slowed allowing a real FOCUS to be placed on current clients. And, we’ve FINISHED a lot of client matters better/faster since mid-March. I count 8 clients matters 100% done since mid-March ranging from divorces completed, child support terminated, child custody granted.
Invest in Staff. On March 13th, 2020, the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County announced that ‘normal’ court operations would stop on March 17th, 2020. On Monday, March 16th, 2020 our Firm had it’s most recent in-person court appearance…by March 17th, 2020 our Firm was entirely remote. A lot of lawyers kept going to their offices because as a legal matter most of the Shelter-In-Place orders did classify legal professionals as Essential Workers. The safety and well-being of our team is more important than a legal technicality…it just IS. We didn’t want our staff being too close to unhealthy people in large, Chicago office buildings and being breathed on in packed, public transportation. We’ve loved the opportunities for more learning and growing through the organizations that we belong to: Rosen Institute, EvolveHer, Women Belong, and Teachable too. Plus, we’re adding new people because we’re growing & too be ‘real’ it was wonderful that our Chicago Loop office lease ended near the start of the CV19 era! Here’s the job listing.
Invest in Technology. Prior to CV19, our Firm was probably an 80% virtual/cloud-based operation. As stated above we had and paid several thousands of dollars each month for a Loop office, but, most client information sharing has been within a client portal for years and if a staff member was delayed in DuPage County or was stuck in Florida re: flight delay…no biggie to work remote for an afternoon or 1-2 days. We have totally changed and are implementing a Firm cloud-based phone system…honestly this was the 20% laggard where we were dated in our tech. This is nearly done and it’s nice to simply have individualized extensions/#s/texting/video meeting capabilities all within an app. Finally, new Lenovo laptops and Patagonia backpacks have been purchased too.
Invest in: The FUTURE…
So, what’s next?
This surely isn’t a scientific journal but a couple things seem to be fairly certain: a) CV19 vaccine appears a year + out; b) Future CV19 spikes are likely (ready for the next Shelter-in-Place order?).
And we’re ready because we’re investing in Clients/Staff/Technology…The Future. If you’ve got a lawyer who is getting ‘back to normal’ right about now, THINK, what happens to your case and your life when that next Shelter-in-Place order happens in late November?