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.