The new trend due to COVID-19 has been learning how to work at home both efficiently and effectively. For many jobs this may seem like a breeze but running an at home law office can be a bit more difficult. From checking up on clients to making those important phone calls to the court clerk’s office, managing remote legal work can be daunting. Although daunting it is not impossible, as long as your firm has a structured virtual law firm business plan, you can run your home law office as competently as possible.
Getting leads at home
Getting new leads from the comfort of your home can be a bit difficult. COVID-19 has not made it easy for many businesses that depend on leads, such as law firms, to gain new clientele. We will provide 3 major tips on how to ensure your law practice can market itself during these hard times.
- Blog, Blog, Blog!
Blogging and providing newsletters to the public can be a key factor in getting new clients! Aim to write at least once per week and you will see your site traffic soar. According to ABAJournal.com, 72% of bloggers who wrote consistently (once a week) acquired a new client. Keep on blogging!
- Good Word of Mouth Travels
We know what you’re thinking: word of mouth during a pandemic? Establish a strong relationship with past clients and current clients to ensure they recommend you to a friend, family member or even a neighbor! 88% of consumers trust online reviews and personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal.com. Aim for great reviews on sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook. Call up a few of your clients to see how they’re doing and pitch in the idea of leaving a review for your stellar services.
- Revamp that Site!
Your website must be up to date to attract a diverse demographic of clients. Build a content plan that showcases how effective your law office is and the skills of your team. 96% of people who sought after legal advice used a search engine and 74% of those people took action to get legal help, according to 1SEO.com.
So if you’re still wondering: can solicitors work remotely? Yes, they can! Set up an effective plan and you will have new clients in no time.
Be consistent with communication
We understand that it may be difficult to vocalize new transformations within your new virtual business but it is necessary. Cohesive and consistent communication amongst colleagues, clients and even to other law firms can be crucial when making sure your home law office is conducting business properly. Whether your firm has incorporated new forms, processes and/or a new fax number, the people deserve to know. Remember, consistency is key and your clients deserve the utmost from a firm they have trusted their cases with.
The dangers of Lawyers inaccurately tracking time
When working from home, it can be hard to track your billable hours as an attorney. For example, a local employment law attorney, at a large firm, can work anywhere from 40 to 60 hours in one week! To ensure you are tracking your remote legal work accurately, create a system that works for you and stick to it! Whether that is utilizing an excel sheet or writing your hours down on a notepad, make sure you include the hours worked and the description of each task you’ve done for a client. If you’re more tech-savvy, think of using an app like HoursTracker.
Be diligent and consistent with the hours you’ve worked and make sure you write them all at the end of the day. The billing partner needs to be able to understand what you’ve worked on and why to make sure the client does not have any questions that go unanswered. Make sure you are consistent with those hours since after all, how will you get that wonderful bonus at the end of the year?
Is meeting face to face inevitable?
Outside of COVID-19, virtual law firms struggled with meeting clients in person. Some like a face to a name or better yet, a face to a firm. There are many ways you can meet your client face to face while still maintaining that ‘virtual’ aspect of your firm. Many remote lawyers who run virtual firms utilize applications such as Zoom, Google Meet and Skype where they can discuss official business without leaving home. There are many features on Zooms such as personalized and secure links that ensure you and your client can make business a bit more personal. While this may be effective, some clients may want an actual meet-up.
Think about renting out an office space for meetings with those clients who rather not use virtual conference rooms. Renting office spaces can be a bit pricey depending on the ambiance you’re looking for. Price can range from $57 per square foot to an entire $300 per month. This all depends on what your firm is looking for and the comfortability you want to provide for your client.
Set up remote access to cases and documents
Case management softwares has to be one of the most crucial aspects of a law firm when it comes to doing remote legal work. Being able to access documents , case files and different administrative tools are essential for productivity. Law firms can use softwares such as Clio, AmicusAttorney and TimeMatters to organize cases and access them remotely. Make sure that your firm provides proper training to your workers or the kind of software you use won’t actually matter.
Keep in mind that privacy concerns are a #1 priority as a remote lawyer or remote paralegal. Use encrypted links to access files with services like Dropbox to make sure you and your fellow colleagues and work securely and privately without jeopardizing client’s personal information. Keeping all work confidential to the parties that are involved isn’t impossible as long as the right software is being used.
Keep client communications secure
Just like we mentioned in our brief explanation on remote access to cases and documents, it is important to keep client communication secure. Sites like Blink.com allow remote lawyers to speak to clients in a confidential and secure manner. Emails can work but some clients prefer more intimate settings to protect important information like social security numbers and telephone numbers. Make sure your client’s comfortability is your top priority!
Stay connected with essential tools and software
There are several tools and software programs that all remote lawyers and paralegals doing remote legal work should have. Softwares like Docusign is essential for signing any and all contractual agreements with clients such as retainers. Not only does it provide a secure link for both you and your client to access documents, you can edit what is sent at any time and provide communication through messages on this program.
Staying up to date with the newest software can make remote legal work a breeze. Apps that provide video conferencing like Zoom make it easy to have those one on one meeting with opposing counsel, clients or even insurance adjusters! Surrounding yourself with convenient softwares like Docusign and Zoom make managing a home law office effortless.
Ask for feedback and learn from them
To ensure you are running your business to the best of your ability, ask clients if there is anything you and your co-workers can improve on! Feedback and constructive criticism is a key way of knowing how to manage a law firm from home. Some clients prefer more attention than others and some clients even prefer no attention at all (unless there are case updates). Make sure your clients needs are met.
Your clients suggestions aren’t the only comments you should be notetaking. Ask other attorneys and paralegals, receptionists, etc. about how they feel as well. Inquire on what your home law firm’s key strengths are, weaknesses, threats and possible opportunities, a SWOT analysis. This will surely create an environment that will be more suitable for your workers, clients and yourself.
Working as a remote lawyer may not be the easiest feat but it can be! Balancing between efficiency and maximizing marketing techniques can be effortless if you knew exactly what you’re doing. With the tips we have presented in this article, you are surely on your way to running a smooth and effective virtual law firm.