How attorneys can pivot during the Coronavirus pandemic

As the landscape of the American workforce changes, businesses must find ways to adjust. Attorneys have been feeling the impact for a while now since courts have been incredibly restrictive, so it's crucial that you focus on what you CAN do. We’ve created a list of things every attorney can start doing right away, as well as a list of ideas broken down by practice areas. 

What NOT to Do: Quit, give up, listen to other lawyers complaining…everything is uncertain and scary right now. We don’t know for sure what will happen with the economy or your workload. There is a lot of uncertainty, but you can be 100% certain that GIVING UP is a sure-fire way to fail. We’ve got to move forward, and try to face things with hope and optimism.  

Here’s What All Attorneys Should Do Right Now:

#1- Communicate With Your Clients, Past, Present, and Future Via Phone, Email, Social Media.
Our good friend, Ben Glass, has some really great advice for attorneys right now: call your clients! Just check in. See how they’re doing. Offer resources or help if you can. But even just checking in is huge. You have a unique relationship with your clients; you’re there for them in some of their darkest moments—and some of the happiest. Not many occupations allow for the kind of personal relationship that clients can form with their attorneys. Calling to check in is a kind gesture that not everyone can do easily, so make the most of your unique relationship. 

#2 - Help Your List of Clients That Know You
In your mind, you might be a “Personal Injury Attorney” or “Estate Planner” or “[Insert Practice Area Here] Lawyer,” but to the rest of the world, you’re an “Attorney.” We lay-people don’t know the difference! We speak with a lot of attorneys who turn away calls outside of their practice areas, but to the average Joe, a lawyer is a lawyer, is a lawyer. Don’t fight that; use it to help out and to your advantage. If you represented John Smith in a dog bite case and he calls for a divorce attorney, have someone you can refer him to! This is an excellent opportunity for a structured referral agreement (if it’s allowed in your state) or a nonbinding referral relationship. Not only will John Smith appreciate your help, but his new attorney will be grateful, and probably send dog bite cases your way in return. 

#3 - Focus on your list. 
You have a list of people who know, like, and trust you. They are past clients, and they need to hear from you! In addition to a weekly email newsletter and a print newsletter, how can you connect with clients and provide the information and guidance they need? This also means you should stop leaning on pay-per-click. You’re going to get a LOT more traction focusing on the list you already have, rather than trying to capture the attention of a brand new audience right now. 

Here’s What You Can Do in Various Practice Areas:

In addition to the stuff ALL attorneys should be doing, we’ve also created a list of ways you can make the most of your current practice areas (or consider expanding into a new area of practice!). Some of these strategies are focused on giving back—which will have a hugely positive impact on your marketing—while some are focused on generating revenue. This is not about being opportunistic or predatory. It’s about providing for our employees and families. And keep in mind: you need to be contacting your list for any of these ideas to be effective! 

Estate Planning:

  1. Online seminars. There’s nothing like an engaged audience that you can work with one-on-one, but in a pinch, online seminars are a great option. You have a lot of options when it comes to your presentation format, too! You can record these and share after the fact, open a Q&A, or stay in your pajamas and simply do a screen share. No judgment here.
  2. Services to first responders and medical professionals. There are so many amazing people prioritizing the health and well-being of others. Can you extend an offer to help them build their estate plans, or create their wills at a deeply discounted rate? This sort of thing will not go unnoticed, and when we get to the other side of this, they will surely come back to you for any estate planning needs.  
  3. Existing will/estate plan reviews. When was the last time your clients updated their wills? They should absolutely review these things now to see what changes need to be made. The future is uncertain right now, and that should prompt any client to take action. 
  4. Medical Powers of Attorney. Now that college students are home, parents should be discussing who should be their medical agent if they ever need one. It’s not something we want to worry about, but it can help avoid conflict during traumatic events.
  5. Drive-through will signings. One of our clients had the genius idea to allow for “drive-through” will and document signing while social distancing! 

Employment Law:

  1. Information about employee rights. There are lots of questions floating around right now, and employees are unclear on their rights. Help them to understand the most basic to the more nuanced. Send emails and information to your list and encourage them to contact you with questions. 
  2. Information about applying for unemployment. Unfortunately, we’ll have a lot of people who need to file for unemployment. Send instructions on how to apply, and explain their ongoing obligations to continue receiving unemployment once they’re approved. 
  3. FAQs for employers and employees. How does “reasonable accommodation” apply in a global pandemic? What do employers need to do to protect their employees and themselves? There are a lot of questions you can answer, and if anyone is worried, you can be sure they will call for your help!

Criminal Defense:

  1. Expungements. The economy is taking a huge hit, which means lay-offs are inevitable for many people. When they are applying for new positions, they will probably want to have a clean record. Sending out an email that generally talks about expungement might help them in the long run, while providing revenue for your practice.

  2. Lockdown offenses. With states rolling out “stay-at-home” orders, there will almost certainly be a need for defense attorneys in the near future. 

Family Law: 

  1. Child custody arrangements/mediation. Kids are out of school, parents are working from home, states are upping their requirements for social distancing. And all of this means child custody arrangements can get hairy. Can you offer mediation services so police officers don't need to moderate disputes?
  2. Divorce rates. It’s unfortunate, but China has seen a significant increase in divorce requests since couples have been forced to stay in close quarters during the quarantine. Offer your list communication strategies, ways to diffuse arguments, and advice for getting along while stuck together. It will definitely be appreciated, and if anyone does eventually need your services, they will come to YOU.

Still struggling to make marketing work during this global health crisis? We can help you expand into a new practice area and provide services that are in demand. Contact us, and we’ll schedule a time to talk about your goals and immediate needs. We all have to adjust to the new normal and find our footing as best we can. We’re here to help if you need us!

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