To run a successful law firm– whether it’s a solo practice or a large firm– you’ll need to not only excel in the areas of law you’re practicing in, but also in all matters of running the practice itself. Running a legal practice comes with its own, unique set of challenges that even the most prepared lawyer setting out to start a new practice may find themselves overwhelmed with. I’m here to help make the job of running your law office just a little easier. Welcome back to Mike’s Office Management Tips.
Most law firms have their attorneys and staff working remotely, which presents numerous challenges just in the day-to-day. Communication is one of the hardest-hit areas when it comes to the effects of COVID-19. The ways in which we have to communicate have increased significantly—both internally and externally. For one, in-person meetings and events are often impossible.
In order for lawyers to stay connected with their clients, they need to communicate more often. There’s also the matter of the pandemic continually changing, which means law firms need to stay on top of the latest legal issues in order to compete and remain relevant. To successfully navigate these times, let’s take a look at some communication essentials for your law firm during COVID-19.
Effectively Communicating With Clients and Your Team
It’s likely you already communicated in a variety of ways prior to the pandemic. Now, however, you’re probably more focused on getting your messages across remotely. You may experience some trial-and-error when it comes to how you communicate, which is why we recommend starting by putting the word out across various online platforms that you’re open. Remember to let people know how they’ll be meeting with you for consultations—even if it’s just over the phone. Once you know that potential clients know you’re ready to serve them, you can focus on effectively communicating with your team.
While talking over the phone has its place, you’ll want to consider using videoconferencing as your default with clients and for important team meetings. While some tasks and conversations can be handled through email, chat, or by phone, the more critical matters should be dealt with by using a videoconferencing tool.
To ensure your meetings go as smoothly as possible, make sure you have a good webcam and mic and use a wired connection. While WiFi is reliable most of the time, it can be unpredictable. The last thing you want to deal with is a faulty internet connection when you’re prepping a client for trial.
Along with the suggestions above, it’s important to remember to be patient. Working remotely, especially if you’re not used to it, can be frustrating at times for everyone involved. Even when issues arise, remaining calm and working through problems carefully will ensure tasks are completed properly and in a timely manner. Now, let’s take a look at the communication tools you’ll need to continue to succeed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Communication Tools Your Law Firm Needs
Some of the biggest challenges law firms are facing in regard to communication include there being more to do and the time constraints in which do those tasks are stricter. Fortunately, there are tools you can use to improve communication and reduce your stress. Some of the programs you should look into include:
- Slack. Slack is one of the most popular instant messaging and video/phone communication platforms. Your law firm can use it to quickly communicate, and conversations can be organized into different channels for easy access.
- Microsoft Teams. Similar to Slack, but with the ability to integrate Office 365 products, Teams lets law firms work together and establish different discussion threads, groups of files, etc. There are myriad ways to organize Teams, which is why it’s so popular with lawyers.
- Team Management Platforms. Keeping track of tasks out of the office isn’t always easy—especially if you’re managing a heavy caseload. To ensure your firm doesn’t get overwhelmed, you’ll want to look into utilizing a team management platform. With a platform like Trello or Basecamp, you’ll be able to add team members, assign tasks, and keep track of workflows.
- Google Workplace. With Google Workplace, previously known as Google Office Suite, lawyers can securely work on documents and handle communication with their team in the Google cloud. This is particularly useful when working on things in real-time. Google Workplace includes Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail, Chat, and more.
- Zoom. Zoom is one of the most popular tools for enabling multi-party and one-on-one communication. From a technological standpoint, Zoom uses end-to-end encryption for all communications, so lawyers won’t have to worry about security while having meetings.
While there’s no “best” way to handle communication during this challenging time, your law firm is sure to thrive if you utilize some of the communication essentials discussed above. When you’re comfortable with your means of communication, you’ll be able to support your team members and help clients through their most difficult times.