Survival of the fittest law firms – COVID-19

In the age of social distancing and work from home, established and well-regarded law firms that rely on old fashioned marketing strategies like word-of-mouth referrals will struggle to get the new work they need. Revenues will fall, and they will lose their best and brightest staff first. Conversely, the firms that act now and modify their marketing strategies to suit the current needs, will survive.

Survival of the fittest

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”

Never have these famous words from Charles Darwin been more relevant to law firms than they are right now. Practicing law and how you should market your firm to get new work has changed, perhaps forever, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The fittest will be the firms that now recalibrate their marketing plans and adapt to the current new world. It really doesn’t matter how good your office fit-out is or how smart your staff might be, the new reality is that unless you are visible to your existing clients and referrers then you will be invisible.

This article provides you with a road map to show you how to become visible.

What can lawyers do right now to get new work!

In a word, communicate.

Communicate with all your clients and referrers. Last week we were advised by one law firm principal that he was going to ask his lawyers to ring all their clients. This is crazy! Another asked if he should be walking around his local area putting leaflets into letterboxes. No!

When we say communicate, we mean communicating electronically and when we say all, we mean all. In fact, we mean all of them all at once! How do you do this? You send a newsletter, or an email update – electronically.

Ideally, when we say send a newsletter, we don’t mean one. We mean a series of newsletters on an ongoing basis. It is important to maintain this communication process. Why? Because if you are not communicating with your clients, someone else is.

Use video to meet with clients

Take for example the share price of Zoom, a business nobody except those companies that already had a remote workforce knew a couple of months ago.

Zoom Video Communications shares have soared 107% on the US stock market since the start of the year, with the video conferencing company surging in popularity as people around the world are forced to work from home amid the coronavirus outbreak, outperforming the broader market with the S&P 500 down 31% year-to-date, while the Nasdaq Composite is down 24% over the period.

Zoom has surged in popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to governments encouraging people to practice social distancing and work from home to prevent the spread of the virus.

Zoom is only one of the possible solutions, if you want some practical and simple guidelines on how to set up and interact with clients when you are video conferencing, you can get our Video Conferencing Guidelines by emailing me here.

Of course, this only addresses the issues with your current files.

Your database is a valuable asset

If your firm has toyed with the idea of sending a newsletter but never got around to it, now is the time. If your firm has never managed to put your database together, now is the time.

Smart law firms are right now putting together their list of clients – old and new, friends of the firm, family members and referrers and sending them messages.

What messages? Reassuring messages, to everyone on their contact list, that their firm is open for business, if you are working remotely or not, the new protocols that are in place, how they can deal with the legal work, how the office is staffed and how meetings are being conducted.

Tell your clients that you are open for business and ready to help.

A trusted adviser providing valuable information

However, these messages cannot and should not be all about you. Certainly, this needs to be communicated but at the same time you need to be providing valuable information about topics relevant to the audience.

You need to be their trusted adviser.

Over the last couple of weeks since social distancing has been enforced some of our law firm clients have asked us to help them with their newsletter messaging and communicating with their clients, some have sent updates twice in the last fortnight.

These special purpose updates have gone to their entire contact list and have let everyone on their list know about the firms changing opening hours or operating arrangements, along with some valuable information on the ever-changing regulatory landscape. Imagine being able to do that.

Is this marketing strategy a shield or a sword?

It is both. Your new marketing strategy should be to protect your clients, friends, referrers etc, from the external noise coming from your competitors. Even your rusted on clients will still be exposed to what other firms could do for them. You need to shield your contacts.

Equally, you need to use this new strategy as a sword to attract more than your fair share of work.

The elephant in the room of course is the internet. All your clients, referrers and so on are actively online. Therefore in simple terms and to be as clear as possible, if you are not communicating with all your clients, friends of the firm and referrers then you are invisible and any work or enquiries about legal assistance they or someone they know might need will go elsewhere.

You can also add your newsletter messages to your website so that anyone not on your database also gets the information.

Where to start?

If you have never put a database together and don’t know where to start, we have some guidelines that can help you. We can help you not only get started but tell you how to get it done quickly. We have been doing this for years and know that some firms can make heavy weather of this task.

If you don’t know what to write or how to write it so it gets the message across and is appealing from a marketing perspective, we can help you.

Inaction is not a survivable solution. Be the firm that manages the necessary changes and adapts. If you want some help or need to know more call me on 0407018 109 or email [email protected].

About the author
Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood

Peter Heazlewood is a management and marketing consultant, he specialises in helping law firms develop their practices using business planning marketing and performance reporting techniques refined in his own successful law firm. Peter lives in Sydney with his wife and is the father of five adult children.
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