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Law firm lockdown: challenging times demand sure measures

Law firm lockdownThese really are challenging times for businesses of all kinds. Law firm lockdown has turned the world of legal work upside down. Many have seen work dry up completely. Others, the luckier ones, are having to learn to adapt.

Covid-19 has made fundamental changes to the way we work, stay in touch and manage our daily lives. Right now, your own and your family’s health is the number one priority. However, what sure measures can you take to meet the work demands of these challenging times?

We’ve already looked at what you can do to maintain your firm’s financial stability. Let’s take a look at a few practical measures you can take both to carry on working and to fill your time profitably.

First things first…

The UK government has taken unprecedented steps to aid businesses of all kinds. Everything from wage support to assistance with tax bills, business rates relief to business interruption loans and grant aid are all on the table.

Do not pass go, do not collect £200! Go to this government website first to find out your eligibility. It really could be your get out of jail card.

If you can work remotely…

Law firm lockdown doesn’t necessarily mean work lockdown. Assuming you have enough work to be getting on with, modern technology and your practice management software should permit you to continue.

For homeworking, consider the following checklist:

  1. Make sure your homeworking environment is fit for purpose. That means privacy, a decent internet connection and a good PC.
  2. Hook up to your practice management software to gain access to your documents and emails.
  3. Ensure you can contact colleagues, video conference and collaborate on case files.
  4. Keep communication channels to clients and third parties open.
  5. Look at technological solutions such as client portals and electronic document signing.
  6. Speak to or video conference your staff frequently to maintain morale.
  7. Use your practice management system to manage your staff.
  8. Avoid the use of insecure data storage methods either in your own or employees’ homes – GDPR and compliance still apply.

If your work is drying up…

No-one is immune to the virus. Similarly, no business will completely escape the downturn caused by the lockdown. Firms such as those with a heavy conveyancing reliance are particularly vulnerable. So, what can you do that will really make a difference?

  1. Ask yourself the question: are there any other areas of law to which your skills can be turned?
  2. Look at your firm’s business strategy and see if there are any actions you can take that would mitigate problems should similar downturns occur in the future.
  3. Take a long hard look at your website and social media online presence. This is your shop window and now is the time to make sure it is capable of delivering the goods.
  4. Accept online instructions.
  5. Think about setting up a client portal and an online signature system to ensure business can continue to be conducted.
  6. Take a look at your strongroom and your database of existing and past clients. Your practice management software should enable you to do this easily. Tidy it up and use it to make contact and generate new business.
  7. Seek additional training in your practice management and other software. It will stand you in good stead for the upturn when it arrives.
  8. Market yourself. Waiting for the telephone to ring is just not an option.

Finally, take care of both yourself and your team. The government talks about a three-month period of social distancing with some restrictions lasting even longer. Now is your chance to get remote management working seamlessly, improve your online accessibility and learn a few new tricks.

Also bear in mind, enforced homeworking will probably be a long-term game changer. Once people and businesses have tried it successfully, from a work / life balance perspective, there will probably be no going back.

Look after yourselves.

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