With the rampant effect of the coronavirus on the world, every organization is being affected, and law firms are no different. Never before has communication been so important as it is now. Whether you have clients who need legal advice with respect to the virus or clients with pending cases or legal issues that need attention, setting up communication is essential. It is important that you find ways to provide the legal assistance your clients need while implementing effective precautions to keep your attorneys and staff safe.
Finding ways to stay productive and profitable means looking at alternative ways to connect not only your team, but with your clients. Although some law firms have remained open, others have opted to close their offices and are rerouting calls to staff who are working remotely. Here are some suggestions to help communicate during this pandemic.
Take care of your employees: First and foremost, take care of your employees. Your employees want to know that you have a genuine concern for their well-being. With the future being uncertain, employees are concerned, so communicate with reliable information. Do not give false hope and communicate openly and honestly. If you are unsure of how things will unfold, say so, but also help employees know that you will communicate with them frequently. Help them understand that you will be honest with them regarding how things will operate going forward.
Website: Your website should address the current issues and your strategies to help maintain connection to your clients. The words you share will impact the attitude clients have toward you so share in ways that your clients understand how you can serve them during this time of uncertainty. Find ways to instill trust and confidence in your firm.
Your website should address:
- Supportive message
- How you are currently working
- Hours of operation
- How people can contact you
- Articles – Develop articles and information that will be helpful to your clients as an added benefit
Interoffice Communication: Create a plan for how your firm can continue to operate during the pandemic. Determine how you will communicate internally and externally. If working remotely, ensure that mail is being forwarded to the appropriate people and determine a secure location that is checked frequently.
- Create a go-to person for communication
- Give regular updates
- Create opportunities for employees to hear the voice of their leader(s)
- Establish a way for employees to ask questions
- Discuss how decisions are being made
- Talk about hours of work as some firms are allowing employees to work during non-peak hours
- Utilize video conferencing
Communicating with clients
Face-to-face: If face-to-face is necessary one should take precautions to ensure the safety of both the staff and client. Practice social distancing as suggested by the Centers for Disease Control, avoid hand shaking and communicate with your client that this is being done to ensure their safety. Some individuals who have coronavirus have no visible symptoms, so disinfect surfaces such as tables, desktops, door handles and toilets and faucets to help minimize the spread of the virus once appointment is over.
Phone calls: If meeting by phone is the normal way in which you contact your client, continue to do so. With people being asked to stay home, your client may also benefit from a video conference call as well. Ask your client how they choose to be communicated with and help them to connect with you in a manner that meets both of your needs.
Email: An alternative way to communicate is through email. Files can be scanned and attached as long as you understand the ramifications of email and think through whether this is the best way to share information.
Video conferencing: A good way to connect is through a secure video conferencing system. Most video conferencing can be used with any device that is equipped with a camera. This not only allows you to communicate, but to benefit from nonverbal indicators as well. When videoconferencing ensures the backdrop of your call communicates the professional nature of your work and is organized.
Then next few months will be stressful, and it is up to leaders and partners of firms to utilize communication to help your firm recover. We are all in this together, so everyone is facing the same challenges. It is the organization that take time to think through the situation and communicate accordingly that will recover the fastest. Stay safe and know that we will get through this.
Beth Sears, Ph.D., President of Workplace Communication, Inc. is an interpersonal and organizational communication expert. Using her unique approach, Beth has helped leaders to clarify their vision and create language that inspires and engages their workforce, resulting in collaborative, focused teams. Contact her at (585) 538-6360.