Because of the recent changes to social patterns & behaviors, there has rightly been a surge of interest in the legal community about running a remote law firm.
Since Consultwebs has been 100% remote from the beginning, we’ve learned a few things about running a company with a distributed workforce that we wanted to combine with our industry knowledge, to share with those suddenly questioning the pivot to remote.
Below, we’ve identified eight ‘starting points’ towards going remote, and have provided a ton of links to advice, and legal tech suggestions from legal professionals on our LAWsome podcast that you’ll find valuable.
If you would like to discuss these suggestions on remote operations in more detail, reach out to directly to us and we will do whatever we can to help.
One of the main concerns with remote working is culture. Working in an office, seeing faces of staff, interacting with clients and shaking hands; it’s all a part of the culture, and is massively important to a service industry like legal.
Communication, is the key to successful remote operations.
A big barrier to overcome in remote, is figuring out the successful communication strategies with various different personality types. Since body language is a large percentage of the way humans communicate, feelings can get hurt easily in remote, text-only exchanges.
We use the DISC personality profile system internally, and it has been a fantastic tool to better interpret the most effective way to communicate with staff. Quickly, it breaks humans into four distinct personality types, (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) and associates a set of traits and behaviors that describe the way they interpret and understand the world.
Understanding, appreciating, and adjusting to the distinct personality types & communication styles in your team, can make all the difference in a remote culture.
It’s also important to be mindful of mental health & morale in the remote setting.
We believe in daily communication at Consultwebs, we hold town halls, we have a company-wide water cooler chat that is hilarious, we hold contests, we recognize successes and wins, share advice and help projects along. Communication and community are key.
Video Conferencing Software
Like we mention above, maintaining connection with staff & clients in a remote setting is going to be a top concern for a service industry like legal.
At our company we happily use Zoom for Business, which has great functionality able to host 50+ participants, is easy to set-up, and has many different subscription levels depending on your needs. The best part of Zoom is the instant messaging function and Team message boards, making it easy to communicate and keep track of work.
Seeing that communication is often cited as the reason clients like or dislike lawyers, optimizing your intake process before you go remote is imperative.
In conjunction with a dedicated client management platform, we suggest law firms choose conversion-centered call tracking software, like Call Tracking Metrics, to enhance their intake process. According to this episode of LAWsome, featuring LeadDocket’s Harlan Schillinger, lawyers that focus on & optimize their intake processes, typically see a 20% increase in conversions!
Strong Case/File Management Program or Protocols
There are many document management programs, several case management programs, and plenty of litigation support software options for lawyers. Problem is, as of 2018, the adoption rates for tech like this is abysmally low.
According to a 2018 Florida Bar Opinion Survey, 64% of lawyers had no case management program, 78% had no dedicated document management program, and 92% of lawyers polled had no litigation support software.
Tech competency has been a huge barrier to lawyers embracing tech, but with WFH becoming the new normal, it’s time to get arms around this stuff. According to the numbers, the competition is unprepared, but thankfully, you won’t be!
Whether it’s Clio or Casepeer for case management, or any of the other options available across your firm’s workflow, law firm clients (remote or not) that take CRM and file management seriously, always outperform those that don’t.
Keeping track of, and having easy access to edit and add to, your calendar and schedule is extremely important in remote business settings.
Calendly, is a calendaring software we’ve been using to book guests on the podcast and it has been a life saver. You can adjust your availability and send links with multiple options for scheduling an event, rather than going back and forth and eating up billable time. You can learn about more DIY legal tech solutions, and how to create a FrankenFirm, from real legal tech experts on our LAWsome podcast.
Electronic Payments + E-Signature
Using e-signature software for intakes & disbursements, like Docusign or other solutions, can increase case sign ups and quicken case management processes.
In a profession that’s seen as lucrative, it can be shocking to learn how poor most law firms handle e-payment billing & e-signatures for their practice. According to Sarah Schaff, lawyer and founder of the legal payment software company, HeadNote, accounts receivable is the last thing lawyers think about, when it’s the first thing that impacts their bottom line. Learn more about legal payment software on this podcast.
Ability to Outsource Legal Work
Give the current state of things, the gig economy, Work From Home, and established business models, are all set to mix with one another in the coming months.
Law firms that can use tech to complete project work and manage legal issues across a distributed workforce can begin to see opportunities that were unavailable to you in an office setting. Virtual assistance for law firms, AI legal research capabilities, and the ability to run a virtual law firm, are all current realities.
The benefit to remote operations that align with good project management practices is that the risk of disruptions is distributed, and, you build trust across teams and outcomes.
Digital Marketing Presence
In a time of social distancing, maintaining and promoting your law firms presence in your local market is going to be more important than ever. Instead of thinking social patterns will revert to pre-COVID times, this is a critical time to recognize “the new normal” and seize the opportunities in an increasingly digital-reliant marketplace.
In a WFH world, social media has replaced the water cooler, the mobile phone has replaced the front door, and your desktop computer is the new consultation room.
Key questions to ask about your firm’s digital marketing presence include; Is your website quick-loading and mobile-friendly? Are you using social media to promote the firm, but also communicate with clients & staff? Could a branded podcast help market your firm? How does your law firm rank for popular keywords and show up on the pages potential clients are searching?
With a continued presence in the marketplace, and a focus on addressing & solving the above areas with the right combination of people, processes, and tech, a remote practice can be a reality at your law firm. While technology and market dynamics can pivot quickly, it’s less easy for a business to do so. The time to make adjustments is now. We hope you find these links and resources useful and we are here to help our clients in any way we can.
If you are looking for further advice on establishing remote operations for your law firm, Get In Touch. Want more advice on legal marketing? Sign up for the Consultwebs newsletter, follow us on social media, and subscribe to the LAWsome Podcast.