As a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are seeing an influx in mandated and voluntarily remote work. Attorneys who are accustomed to a bustling office setting may find that this transition adds stress to an already unnerving situation. With the US Supreme Court now closed to hearings, our team has compiled a few helpful tips to smoothly implement virtual day-to-day office operations.
Most law firms have a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system in place, such as LawMatics or LawRuler, that allows for mass emails. Use these tools to communicate the fact that although your office is working remotely, your clients remain your top priority. If your CRM does not have an email marketing feature, you can always upload your contacts into a platform such as MailChimp or Constant Contact to implement wide-spread communication.
We encourage you to identify your active clients and set aside the time to make a personal call to them. Ask about the health of their families, give them a brief update on their case status, and assure them you are accessible amidst the surrounding chaos.
Take emails up a notch and craft weekly newsletters to communicate with your client database. You can provide helpful updates on COVID-19 and keep them informed about how it may affect any open cases.
If you weren’t an active social media user before, now is the time to join. Forbes recently shared that 6.7 million people mentioned the coronavirus on Facebook in one day (on February 28). Use social media platforms to post daily updates, or even stream a video via Facebook Live to stay present and offer a sense of security to your clients.
One of the most effective ways remote businesses keep their teams connected is via video conferencing. It allows for natural, productive communication that closely mimics the in-person experience. We endorse tools such as Zoom or Google Hangouts for quick, easy access to virtual communication with your team. If sensitive information is being addressed (this also applies to client discussions), we encourage firms to take advantage of tools such as Legaler or Jive, which add a level of security with encryption.
During this time of confusion, a sense of routine and order is key. Using a cloud-based system for organizing files, such as One Drive, Google Drive or Dropbox, allows your team members to leave notes on projects, upload files, and have the information they need readily accessible from anywhere.
An amazing tool for quick questions or check-points throughout the day are message applications. Sources such as Slack or Skype Messenger allow for instant communication among your team members. Most platforms allow you to even create groups, so there can be a chat unique to executive level employees, paralegals, or case-specific teams. If privacy is a concern, consider using a secure messaging system such as AbacusLaw MessageSlips.
Not only are you, your attorneys, and your legal assistants displaced, but so are their families. With several schools closed down, this doesn’t paint a realistic picture of your staff sitting at a desk for 8 hours straight the way they would in an office. We recommend that you are respectful of your employee’s personal cell phones, but do encourage texting as an alternate means of communication for timely needs while your staff may be on the go.
When marketing tactics are implemented, there is typically a Call To Action (CTA) to encourage people to contact your firm. Rather than pushing phone calls, we advise pointing your CTAs to a digital source of acquisition, such as an online form, to reduce call volume to a manageable number.
Most phone systems allow for call routing, and we recommend taking advantage of this feature. The last thing you want is for leads to reach an unmanaged phone. Route intake calls directly to your remote team members so they can continue business as usual.
Your intake team should be very familiar with your CRM system, but the need for in-depth notes is escalated at this time. Instruct your agents to add as many details as possible to
your lead profiles to build a strong foundation for your business development team.
The last thing you want right now is to lose business. In an effort to minimize leads slipping through the cracks, hold weekly (if not daily) meetings with your intake team to discuss the status of incoming leads, and strategize how to move them towards signing a contract.
As per FRCP Rule 30 (b) (3), video recording of a deposition is permitted. Keep business as usual and hold depositions virtually. In addition to the platforms we mentioned above, legal-specific video conferencing tools such as Lexitas and Veritex focus solely on virtual depositions and add a layer of encryption and security.
When transitioning a deposition from an office setting to a virtual one, you will need supporting audio and visual equipment. A few include a high-quality webcam, a wireless headset, and an adjustable microphone. Invest in the right tools to uphold the quality of your deposition.
If you are not accustomed to video depositions, we strongly suggest hosting a dress rehearsal. Perform the way and use the tools you intend to replicate during the real thing. One rookie mistake is to focus attention on the screen, opposed to the camera. Look directly at the lense when speaking, even if it feels awkward at first.
There is a slight gray area when it comes to a video deposition being considered non-stenographic (Rule 26(c)). We encourage attorneys to both record the deposition in full, and also have proper transcripts via a stenographer. If you utilize one of the above mentioned virtual deposition software systems, they typically include real-time transcript streaming.
In a time of uncertainty, it’s important to stay the course and focus on your firm. The home-office is certainly a setting in most of our futures, and with the proper tools and organization, it is entirely possible to continue running a profitable firm.
If Postali can assist in your firm in the virtual office transition, contact us today!