The U.S. business landscape radically shifted in March 2020 due to the coronavirus, and law firms across the country are not immune to the challenges faced by changes in the workforce. However, some law firms have proven to be uniquely suited to the pandemic and have seen an uptick in clients and potential revenue.
The events of 2020 should serve as a catalyst for law firms to consider what a better normal looks like even beyond the pandemic.
Pandemic-proof law firms are lean, agile and adaptable. They understand the evolving needs of today’s legal consumer and have the tools to assist them in weathering a slump in demand of their traditional legal services.
Portrait of a Pandemic-proof Law Firm
Despite the disruption to their workflow one personal injury law firm has found a way to thrive during the pandemic. This law firm is a personal injury practice that traditionally relies on trials, depositions and hearings to generate revenue. They also rely on a pool of clients who are now unable to leave their homes due to quarantine.
Without a shift in their business model, this would be a firm that should be considering cost-cutting measures very soon. Instead, this pandemic-proof firm has not only weathered the storm but has thrived.
During the time frame of March to September 2020, this firm saw an increase in client intakes of nearly 4,000% over the same time frame in 2019. In addition, the pandemic-proof law firm also saw an increase of 3,200% in signed clients during this time.
What are the characteristics that makes for a pandemic-proof law firm? The pandemic-proof law firm diversifies as client needs evolve and supplements traditional sources of income with referrals to trustworthy legal partners.
Most importantly, the pandemic-proof law firm understands that the expectations and needs of the legal consumers shifted during the pandemic and the successful firm has tools in place to shift with these needs.
Law firms concerned about their success during disruptions to their business model, would be advised to consider the three lessons learned from our agile law firm.
The 3 Lessons Learned From a Pandemic-proof Law Firm
Lesson 1: Pandemic-proof law firms use tools to diversify and refer qualified leads to a network of trustworthy lawyers when traditional sources of income decrease.
Law firms that have not diversified or considered how they can take advantage of their referral network to invest their efforts in areas of law less affected by COVID-19 are likely to face cost-cutting measures to offset the loss of revenue from traditional sources. The ability to pivot quickly and cheaply is critical to success during the times of a pandemic.
While some law firms will take this time to pivot into new practice areas permanently, most law firms will look to adjust marketing budgets and refocus staff efforts temporarily. SimplyConvert allows for the instant pivot and referral of cases to the right lawyer without the need for increased costs.
SimplyConvert was built by lawyers to engage, qualify and convert legal clients in over 50 litigation areas starting with the first criteria-based conversation.
The pandemic-proof law firm did not slow down their marketing efforts during the pandemic. Instead, they recognized early that they would need to adjust their marketing budget to focus on new litigation areas. They did so quickly and without the need to train staff because they had the tools in place to make these adjustments without the assistance of a conference, list serve or webinar.
This agile law firm increased advertising and adjusted their SEO focus to concentrate on new areas. Advertising leads increased by over 10,000% and their organic leads increased by over 100%.
Pivoting of their practice was key to success. This firm moved into new practice areas such as business interruption insurance assistance and mass torts that continued to move forward despite the slow-down in the courts. They also increased referrals into areas that saw increased demand during the pandemic such as social security disability, medical malpractice and nursing home abuse.
Their quick pivot using SimplyConvert resulted in 134 new referrals to 11 different trusted law firms within the SimplyConvert Network during the Covid months. 55% of these referrals resulted in signed clients that will generate referral revenue in the future. In addition, they also received 68 new clients from five separate law firms within the SimplyConvert community.
Lesson 2: Pandemic-proof law firms have a clear understanding of the expectations of today’s legal consumer and the ability to meet their needs
Prior to the Covid pandemic, over 80% of legal consumers cited responsiveness and quality of response as the most important factors when hiring a law firm, with 65% stating they moved on from the first law firm they reached out to after receiving a response that didn’t give any indication of how to proceed, if at all, with their claim (2019 Clio Legal Trends Report).
The pandemic of 2020 has only exacerbated this need and the increased importance consumers now place on the use of technology in their interactions with law firms.
According to the 2020 Clio Legal Trends Report, 58% of consumers say that the use of technology is more important to them now than prior to the pandemic. The majority of consumers (69%) prefer working with a lawyer who can share documents electronically through a web page, app, or online portal.
It is clear that 2020 has accelerated technology adoption to the point where quality online interactions with clients has become a baseline requirement for law firms rather than an after-thought.
The Pandemic-proof law firm understands the need to integrate technology into their workflow. In fact, they found that during the early Covid months, 92% of their contacts came in digitally, and only 8% through phone calls.
Digital leads led to the highest percentage of signed retainers – with 51% of qualified potential clients signing a contract within an hour of the initial outreach. SimplyConvert makes engagement, qualification and contract of digital leads easy.
Lesson 3: Pandemic-proof law firms have a 24-hour intake solution that does not depend upon the physical presence of staff and equipment in the office as well as a tool that meet the needs of today’s legal consumer.
In 2020, live chat does not meet consumer expectations. Live chat results in lost opportunity as consumers look for law firms that can give them legal guidance at the moment they intend to hire a lawyer.
Law firms should not be shocked to lose potential clients to more client-centered law firms if their answer to clients seeking digital assistance resembles the following:
The Pandemic-proof law firm recognized several years ago that live chat did not make them more responsive. Like the fax machine, technology has evolved beyond the capabilities of this once must-have client-service solution.
What is the agile firm’s solution to 24/7 leads? Successful firms understand that client-experience is key. An individual who has a great first impression of the firm is more likely to sign a contract. SimplyConvert’s criteria-based conversation gives qualified clients a seamless transition from intake to client 24/7.
Studies show that 60% of potential clients reach out after office hours and during weekends. This number increased during Covid, as the line between work and non-work hours became even more blurred.
After-hours intake for a law firm using the traditional legal intake model (live chat and call centers) sets off a cycle of wasteful endeavors. The client chase begins with a follow up with 100% of the leads in an effort to contact, screen, and qualify. Meanwhile, consumers are forced to wait for call backs, or play phone tag, or as the Clio data suggests, move on to a more responsive firm.
SimplyConvert law firms only follow up with signed clients or qualified potential clients and instantly meet the needs and requirements of the inquiries they receive.
The Pandemic-proof law firm was able to decrease staff follow-up on potential clients by 70%.
SimplyConvert gives law firms the ability to deliver its expertise precisely how the consumer has come to expect it, with technology, increasingly online and highly responsive. As a result, they ensured goodwill with those they couldn’t help, quickly identified their desirables and prevented them from going to competitors.
2020 has been a challenging year for law firms. Some are predicting this disruption to workflow could last another 12 months. Law firms that emerge successful likely spent the time to consider how to be more adaptable to the disruption to normal workflows.
The best time to implement SimplyConvert is prior to March 2020. The second-best time to implement SimplyConvert is NOW.