Law Firms Share Tips for Working Remotely During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced law firms to push the majority of their employees out of the office and into their homes. This fast-spreading health crisis has thrown a wrench in daily operations for nearly every American across the nation. Simply put, life is different, and in many ways, it may never return to the same status quo once this pandemic passes—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Many law firms, and businesses as a whole, are being forced to work remotely, but they are realizing that with the right tools they can still operate efficiently and productively.

Litify spoke with three law firms—HawkLaw, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers, and Hornsby Law Group—about how they are adapting to this new reality and why they think this crisis may force the legal industry into 2020 once and for all. Read the highlights from the panel and watch the full conversation below.

Building a Culture of “Acceptance of Change”

HawkLaw, Daniel Stark Injury Lawyers, and Hornsby Law Group all shared that they are nearly 100% remote right now, with the exception of a few volunteers who are checking physical mail. Panelists all credited Litify’s mobile, cloud-based platform for being able to move their operations remote so quickly.

HawkLaw has undergone a digital transformation over the last few years and was virtually paperless before the coronavirus pandemic broke out. Because of this, John Hawkins noted, the move to a remote workforce was “relatively painless.”

Wesley Cagle, Director of Litigation Operations at Daniel Stark, commented that the firm moved to Litify for this very reason—to be able to work remotely. They too have experienced a relatively smooth transition as employees work from home.

Hawkins noted that it’s important to build a “culture of acceptance of change” in your firm, one that encourages trying new tools and ways of doing things. This mindset has particularly helped as his firm works from home.

“The law firms that can digitize the most will be around long after this,” shared Hawkins.

Firms Are Leveraging Multiple Tools

In addition to Litify, we asked panelists to share the programs that have been particularly helpful as they work away from the office. Here’s what they shared:

  • Chatter: Salesforce built-in social network. Relates conversations to specific matters and documents in Litify.
  • Zoom, GoToMeeting, Uber Conference: Video conferencing. Used for internal and external meetings.
  • Calendly: Scheduling application that allows clients to pick a time to be contacted.
  • Microsoft Teams: Communication and collaboration platform within Office 365.
  • LoginTC: Multi-factor authentication for applications outside of Salesforce.
  • Cisco Jabber: Cloud-based phone system. Allows employees to make calls from their cell phones or computers using their business extensions.

For more mobile-friendly tools, check out our list here.

Client-Centric Communication Is Even More Important

Now that in-person client meetings are off the table, law firms are considering more channels for external communication.

Though HawkLaw and Daniel Stark offer video conferencing for client meetings, they said that communication should always revolve around clients’ preferences. While that could be Zoom, it could also be a phone call, email, text, FaceTime, or even WhatsApp.

And during this time of unprecedented uncertainty and stress, it’s also important that law firms communicate when it’s good for the clients. Hornsby Law Group uses the scheduling application Calendly which allows clients to select the time they would like to be contacted.

Helping the Most Vulnerable

Going even further than client-centric communication, panelists shared how they are caring for their most vulnerable clients.

Daniel Stark has instructed employees to be particularly sensitive and understanding when interacting with clients and to always reassure them that the firm is continuing to work on their case. They are also supporting the local community at this time by organizing blood drives.

HawkLaw is also putting the community above profits. They’ve sent care packages to vulnerable clients and are running a new commercial that directs viewers to HawkLawCares.com, a website featuring free COVID-19 resources.

Increasing Employee Morale 

COVID-19 has touched everyone by upending routines and creating a pervasive sense of uncertainty. Employees may be juggling childcare with work, have sick loved ones, or at the very least are worried about vulnerable family, friends or their own health. 

John Hawkins said that employers can do their part by maintaining structure and stability on their teams—essentially controlling what they can control. 

He expects staff to show up on time to virtual meetings, like they would in the office, and appear professional on camera. He asks that fears and qualms are put aside before they log in to work so that everyone in the firm can focus on helping their clients. “Clients don’t want to see you fall apart,” Hawkins noted.

And when all else fails, a funny meme is always appreciated. Nimesh Patil, Salesforce Administrator at Hornsby Law, shared that his colleagues aren’t above sharing a funny post throughout the day to keep the mood up.

Crisis Shows the Need for Industry-Wide Change

COVID-19 has shone a spotlight on just how antiquated some legal processes are.

Panelists noted that there is still too great a reliance on wet signatures (rather than e-signature), particularly for healthcare-related requests. And insurance departments are still bent on sending physical checks. Not only does this impede remote work, but it increases the likelihood of fraud.

Some courts are using video for hearings—a change that panelists hope will only accelerate after the crisis. But change is still surprisingly slow.

Hawkins shared that if there is anything good to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, he hopes it will “bring the legal industry into 2020.”

Have Questions About Working Remotely? 

If you have questions about tools you can leverage to help you work remotely effectively, or would like to know some best practices for becoming a digital-first law firm, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to talk with you.

6 Client Communication Tips During COVID-19

COVID-19, or commonly referred to as coronavirus, is a pandemic unlike any other. While questions still surround the infection, Americans are adhering to specific recommendations from local, state, and federal branches of government. In an effort to slow the spread, social distancing has become a critical factor in helping protect both the economy and health of the people.

This has resulted in restrictions on travel and group gatherings larger than 10, as well as the closure of bars and restaurants. Maybe the biggest impact on the corporate world has come in the form of remote working. The federal government has suggested that businesses telecommute in the wake of increasing COVID-19 cases. These personal and professional on-the-fly adjustments are causing businesses to create new standard operating procedures to ensure their work can be carried out.

Law firms are built on the back of good client relationships, but as COVID-19 continues to shrink modern-day normalcy, how are you handling client communications? Casework is still continuing and clients deserve transparent communication more than ever.

In order to continue to put your clients first, devising a plan on how to adequately and professionally handle communications during times of uncertainty will benefit your firm’s success now and well into the future.

Tips for Communicating With Clients

1. Communicate Often

There is currently a lot of information being spread about the virus and its effect on businesses. Undoubtedly your clients have questions. Now is the time to over-communicate and be proactive in your client service. Do not limit your communication to major case updates or bill notifications. If you have clients in areas that have seen large amounts of COVID-19 cases or clients that fall into at-risk populations, checking in on them via phone or email is appropriate. Don’t overlook the value of being the first to reach out.

2. Use New Communication Channels

Today, there are endless ways to communicate with your clients that don’t involve in-person interaction. Innovative apps like Drift and Loom allow you to send video messages —an easy way to send personalized communication from home. Text messaging and video conference calling are also great ways to supplement email and phone calls. Use whatever avenue best connects you with your client.

3. Proactively Answer Questions

A lot of your clients are going to have the same questions. In an effort to save time for both you and them, creating an FAQ page or outline can help alleviate an influx of emails and phone calls. Clearly note how your firm is handling the situation and what possible delays or cancellations may occur, and how that may pertain to their case.

4. Be Empathetic

COVID-19 has ignited a lot of fear and angst among the public. From the severity of the disease to the economic impact seen on households, people are concerned. Keep this in mind in all your communications with your clients. Address their concerns head-on, be transparent, patient, and understanding of their personal situation.

5. Re-Evaluate Marketing Campaigns

What marketing campaigns are you currently running? Is it possible for any of them to be viewed as inappropriate or insensitive given the current national climate? Check all platforms, from Facebook to outdoor ads, and if something can be seen as inconsiderate due to the impact of the coronavirus, pull it immediately.

6. Be Helpful

If your firm is in a position to aid your clients during this outbreak, now is the time to do so. Whether that is providing informative information about worker’s rights and labor laws, or donating goods/monetary gifts to your local community organizations and businesses, these acts of kindness will not go unnoticed.

Need a Work-From-Home Solution?  

Litify is the all-in-one law firm platform that can transform the abilities of your firm, and help deliver a better client experience — even from the comfort of your home. See how Litify can revolutionize your company across the board — let’s talk.

Building a Better Client Experience Through Transparency

Mastering the client experience can be a difficult job; what pleases one client, may not work for another. Law firms spend countless hours developing successful client relationships over the entirety of a project, so why let the final invoice create strain and dissatisfaction for both the client and your firm?

Not all projects are created equal, and with an hourly billing structure, it is crucial for all parties involved to have a clear understanding of where time is being allocated. There is no line-itemed statement of work at the outset of an engagement, so how will your client know that the final invoice they receive is truly indicative of time spent on their project?

Avoiding client frustrations and project price reductions can be solved with one simple thing – transparency. Legal management software can do much more than just create efficiencies within your firm, it can also help deepen relationships with your clients and provide the transparency that the legal industry is so often missing.

A Solution to Time Tracking

Clients are typically billed by the hour, but how is that time being tracked today? Paper time logs, spreadsheets, even standalone time tracking solutions are either outdated or inefficient methods for tracking billable hours. These may accurately represent the total time spent on a project, but they provide very little insight into the nature of the work being performed. By utilizing a fully integrated legal management platform, firms are able to better evaluate the value of their services, while simultaneously providing clients with greater transparency and eliminating surprises at the end of a project.

Very few clients receive a detailed breakdown of what services will be included in a project at the outset, and often for good reason. Typically a firm does not know exactly what will be needed at the beginning of a project and therefore would have difficulty predicting the specific services, calls, emails, meetings, etc. that will be billed. Unfortunately, this can leave clients in the dark and often creates surprises when a matter comes to completion. When individual tasks are not documented throughout the project, firms struggle to justify their billing and may be asked to discount their services. Litify enables attorneys to digitally itemize their work from project outset, all the way to case closure. This provides clients the ability to see exactly what services went into their project, creating transparency and building trust between firm and client.

Time Tracking within Litify

Litify also makes time tracking easier for every employee. Using cloud-based tools, time tracking is easily automated, eliminating the constant need to watch the clock while completing work. Litify also gives employees the ability to track time in a new mobile manner, ensuring that no hours are lost while away from your desk. Most importantly, the Litify platform allows for time tracking to be connected to specific matters in a streamlined fashion, giving you the ability to generate reports and provide transparency to your client.

Ultimately, better client relationships are formed when both parties can be confident in the work that is being done. Law firms deserve to be compensated for their time, and clients deserve to be treated fairly. Let Litify handle the rest.

Ready To Experience The Benefits of Law Firm Management Software?

Litify is the all-in-one legal management platform that can transform your firm and your client’s experience. See how Litify can revolutionize your efficiency — let’s talk.

How Technology is Disrupting the Legal Industry: Q&A with Abhay Jain

Technology disrupts every industry it touches, and law is no exception. Yet, lawyers have long been saddled with the reputation of being resistant to change, trapped and suffocated by old business models. Is the legal industry inherently different from those that have embraced technology and rapidly evolved as a result? And what changes lie ahead for legal marketing, technology, and client experience?

Litify spoke with Abhay Jain, startup founder and strategic advisor to Fortune 500 companies, about the future of the legal industry. Jain is a partner at Quire, where he advises innovators, creators, and industry leaders on business model design, corporate development, and access to strategic capital. With a law degree from Duke University, he’s no stranger to the unique challenges and opportunities the legal industry faces.

Litify: The legal industry has a reputation as being a late adopter of technology. Are there factors inherent to the industry that contribute to this? 

Jain: Lawyers are taught to be risk averse. All of the legal education system tells you about things that go wrong in contracts, in entrepreneurship, and how to best protect yourself legally and contract around those things that can go wrong. So that leads to an inherent risk adversity, and a startup mentality is about taking risks.

Litify: What are the biggest drivers of change, across industries?

Jain: Obviously technology. Technology is driving consumption behavior, and that applies to attention as well. People are being pulled in a thousand different new directions with their time and their attention. And that’s changing the way media is consumed, purchase decisions are made, and the way we interact with one another as human beings.

Another is access to information. That may not be a new trend, but in the practice of law, for example, if I want to understand legal precedent, there used to be significant closed doors to finding case law. Now, I can Google recent case law, on, say, seatbelt law or seatbelt judgments in the past five years for plaintiffs. You can see all of those results that you previously couldn’t.

The final piece is the rise of the gig economy. People are purchasing less. They’re purchasing homes less, they’re purchasing cars less, and they’re also committing to jobs less. They’d rather work freelance or work remotely, and be able to travel and helicopter in for projects when they know their expertise is needed, and then go to a new location and take on a new project. It’s a very different way of life that’s going to uproot real estate, media consumption, and also the way jobs are done, including in the legal profession.

Litify:  Law firms are increasingly using data and analytics to support decision making in both the business and practice of law. But do you think that big data can be too big, in that companies have a problem sorting through the information to use it intelligently?

Jain: We’re seeing companies collect more and more data, which is great, but data means nothing without the insights that you can pull from it. You need to pinpoint what you need, and understand how all the little pieces of data that are disparate and disorganized tie together to create a narrative.

For example, Walmart for the past ten years was collecting raw video footage of all of their aisles, just because they thought the data could become valuable one day. Some smart people came in and put AI-driven facial recognition and retinal identification into some of these videos and were able to map out in each aisle where people’s attention was drawn to and to which products across demographics, and at different times of day. In this massive well of data, if you’re able to go in and take out those sorts of insights, that can be incredibly powerful.

Insights are hard to come by. Analytics and analysis and drawing correlations are relatively easy. The insights of what it actually means and what the company should do as a result of it are what defines a lot of strategic advisory work.

Litify: Law is paralleling the rest of the business world by becoming a buyer’s market for legal services, as opposed to a seller’s market. Thomson Reuters acknowledges in their “2019 Report on the State of the Legal Market” that “clients are in control.” Jeff Bezos cites an “obsessive focus on the customer” as the top reason for Amazon’s success. What are your thoughts on this multi-industry switch to a “buyer’s market”?

Jain: There’s just such a wealth of options out there that it truly is becoming a buyer’s market. Access to information is key. The more you can learn and research and understand about companies online, the more informed  potential buyers are.

For lots of traditional players, all they have to compete on is price at this point, especially for lower-value legal engagements, such as filing IP forms. The only true distinction happens at senior levels, where big corporate engagements require the expertise of a partner. But otherwise, everything else is relatively commoditized.

The same thing is happening in the banking industry. Any sufficiently intelligent analyst or associate more or less can value your company and manage a transaction. At that level, it’s hard to distinguish output between Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, or anyone else. The true differentiation beyond fees happens with the partners’ brilliant thinking and broad relationships. Honestly, with most transactions, that level of insight is not even really needed. But, when it is, having those resources at your disposal are absolutely critical.

Litify: How does technology help companies become more client-centric?

Jain: For B2C companies, it helps them understand their audience on a granular level that they weren’t able to before. They are able to have direct interactions, either through surveys or social engagement, to see how they’re feeling or faring with content, or with their products or services. Technology also helps companies design products around consumer needs, rather than saying, “this is the service we provide, it is what it is, take it or leave it.”

Litify: If a law firm brought you in to help them evolve and grow, what process would you use to help them  innovate?

Jain: The steps would involve answering the following questions: What are the key services they offer and in which services are they the most experienced? What are their margins for cases or clients, large and small? What does their infrastructure look like in terms of the support for these engagements? How are they staffing these engagements? How are they understanding feedback loops around their current clients? And, finally, I would try to understand their sales process—getting and retaining clients should be priority number one. We would want to know how we can fill the top of the funnel more efficiently to reserve partners’ time for solving client problems and closing deals.

Additionally, from the market side, we understand that low-value legal engagements like filing copyright forms or filing a trademark are going to increase, but large complex deals are going to decrease. What we can do is systematize a process by which you can take on these relatively low-value engagements but still drive significant margin, and focus on those in addition to the large engagements. Perhaps you’re capturing the future of legal service needs, but at the same time, you have the ability to continue doing what you’re doing with large, unique transactions where partner insight is needed.

Ready to innovate your law firm? Schedule a free demo of Litify and discover the ways in which technology can future-proof your practice. 

Preparing for Disruption: How Technology Can Secure Your Law Firm’s Legacy

In 2001, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPod from a small stage in Cupertino, California. Six short years later, he unveiled the first iPhone.

As consumers, we often look at tech innovations and gadgets with rose-tinted glasses, jumping at the chance to use the next shiny new toy or app.

For businesses though, especially law firms, all of this endless innovation can be terrifying. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s how technology is benefiting the legal industry.

What is disruptive innovation?

The phrase “disruptive innovation” is a popular buzzword in modern market literature. Generally, it begins when a small company deploys novel technology that challenges (or, in some cases, replaces) the products or services offered by established companies within a given industry. Industry disruption happens when the status quo adapts to the new competition and deploys similar technology en masse.

The rise of Uber is a notable example of disruptive innovation within the transportation industry.

When Uber NYC launched in May 2011, it immediately exposed massive problems within the city’s taxi medallion program. Not only did the rise of Uber reveal that the taxi program artificially suppressed demand and was priced unfairly, but it also capitalized on these problems by offering consumers a brand-new, affordable, and readily available transportation option that exploded in popularity across the city and subsequently, around the globe. Many players in the transportation industry adapted to Uber’s innovation and the disruption is evident in today’s market.

Disruption leads to industry convergence

Ten years ago, the idea of receiving healthcare services at a local Walmart seemed foreign. Today, Walmart blurs the line between the retail and healthcare industries by offering health insurance plans, in-store immunizations, and health screenings to its customers. Similarly, online pharmaceutical companies, like PillPack, are shaking up the way people shop for medicine and transforming the way industry giants like CVS serve their customers.

As new players innovate, established companies are forced to adapt to the disruption, and industries often converge as a result.

Law firms are not immune from disruption

LegalZoom.com launched in 2001, ushering in a new wave of industry competition and forever changing the way consumers value legal services. Platforms like LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer, and UpCounsel are often easier to use, cheaper, and more efficient than engaging with traditional law firms. While online legal platforms have limitations, their existence has required brick-and-mortar law firms to embrace 21st-century solutions for case management, marketing, communications, and client relations. In fact, according to Google, online searches for these digital-first legal services have increased by 67% over the last five years. If traditional law firms are to remain relevant, they must leverage technology to offer the same efficient and transparent service that companies like LegalZoom offer.

Technological innovation will continue in the legal industry. As the industry changes, do you want your firm to lead the change, or risk being left behind?

Future-proof your firm’s legacy

There are only two options for responding to disruption. Law firms can clutch their pearls, cling to the old way of doing business and find themselves in a similar position that New York City’s taxis found themselves in, with no viable response to Uber. Or, they can embrace innovation by deploying technology designed to automate daily tasks, efficiently market legal services, and simplify client engagement.

Think about your firm’s legacy and what you’ve built. Is it future-proof? Do you have the tools you need to remain competitive in 2019 and beyond?

If you’re ready to explore how to take your law firm to the next level by capitalizing on industry convergence, it’s time to check out Litify. Litify provides law firms with the foundation and resources for providing a superior level of customer experience that clients now expect.

Consumers are already turning from traditional law firms towards online providers. It’s time to bring them back and secure your firm’s legacy. Let’s talk about how our solutions can give your firm the tools it needs to become a high-performing business now and for years to come.

The Evolution of Software as a Service and Why Your Clients are Going to Demand you Go There

Embrace Technology – Other firms are

In our last article we introduced the evolution of the cloud and the value it provides. Today law firms that work with corporations are going to be faced with a big decision: continue to shy away from technology that can help the firm be more efficient and communicative, or embrace technology and provide greater client service which in turn could generate more revenue.

Are things really changing?

Almost every day you can read an article or blog authored by a long time legal industry veteran discussing the changing landscape of legal – both from the perspective of the practice and the business of law. Topics range from in-house evolution, the ever increasing number of alternative legal providers, to areas of technology such as AI and mobility. There is a consistent message in all of these articles, and that is remaining competitive will require law firms to look at their practice and business as a whole and come up with strategies for operating more efficiently while continuing to deliver high quality. Years ago corporations began the long process of putting in controls to finally get their arms around what was perceived as out-of-control legal spend. Organizations like CLOC and ACC Legal Ops have grown from this initiative and there are many smart professionals now working side by side with GCs to gain control.

Why can’t firms be efficient using older technology?

Through the years one thing has remained constant, in order to solve a problem with technology, you needed to find a specific tool. This has created a market with tons of separate “point” solutions. Having many different solutions creates serious issues with integration, upkeep and maintenance – creating internal and external challenges. Can firms provide their clients with accurate information if their attorneys have challenges getting that information? Can true collaboration really happen if there are not the tools in place to enable it?

What needs to change?

Let’s be honest, we’ve all accepted radical change with the way we interact with technology many times in our lives. If we didn’t embrace technology, we would all be carrying around music players, rolodexes, cameras, video cameras, notebooks, telephones, etc. Today we don’t have to carry around these devices because of the invention of the iPhone. The iPhone has allowed us to eliminate the need to carry many devices while simplifying everyday tasks. For example, today, we take a picture and can immediately share it through email or text. Compare that to the previous manual process. If you think this in terms of a legal platform, think about the efficiency gains and process improvement from integration of systems. On a legal platform firms can easily share information and documents with clients. Lawyers can have access to.

ALL pertinent matter information and easily merge this information into legal documents. The applications of integrated information and systems is endless. This coupled with the advantages of being in the cloud create a situation that firms need to embrace. Clients are going to demand it! Now… firms just have to move. Think back to your iPhone purchase, at the time, you could never imagine moving from your Blackberry. Now you can’t imagine moving back…this is the vision modern firms must have.