Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, law firms are having to adjust to a difficult set of circumstances never seen before. Conditions that impact every aspect of their practices, including:
- Supporting a remote staff
- Adapting client communication methods
- Managing interactions with the courts
But firms are also having to face—at least in the short term—the reality of the new business climate. One where many clients are tightening their belts and putting some initiatives on hold. This is an entirely natural response given the current environment.
But this initial decrease in the need for legal services in your primary practice areas doesn’t mean that their need for a trusted legal partner is gone. In fact, far from it. Many clients are facing new legal challenges that may require legal services of a different kind. And they will naturally look first to their current law firms for initial guidance and “straightforward, clear, and practical advice.”
Firms that are prepared to advise clients on these new challenges can help solidify themselves as trusted partners in their clients’ most trying times. This will position firms for stronger relationships with those clients in the future. So, while the need for your firm’s current services may be shrinking at the moment, the potential exists for a much more robust relationship on the other side.
Where should firms be getting up to speed?
Knowing exactly what types of ancillary services clients will need in the short term is going to be difficult. Every situation will be different, and the arising needs will differ depending on your clients’ primary business focus. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that the need for representation in areas like corporate restructuring, renegotiating contracts, bankruptcy, and related matters could increase during and immediately following the timeframe of the pandemic.
Firms that can get up to speed in some of the more pressing practice areas can position themselves to retain some of the business from current clients and may even be able to win some from new ones. It can be difficult for some firms to pivot from the practice areas they’ve specialized in for decades to the ones their clients need in this new environment.
So, how can you do it?
The technology exists to help attorneys get up to speed in key practice areas in a relatively short amount of time. If your firm has already invested in a reliable solution, you have a head start on other firms.
Now is the time to start checking in with clients. Make sure they are feeling good about the status of current matters. And try to get a feel for any help they might need going forward. Take note of any matter types that you don’t currently handle and use your firm’s technology to start familiarizing yourself with them. Doing so will put you in a better position to win the business since your firm already has a relationship.
If your firm hasn’t invested in such a solution, start making a case for it. Having the additional knowledge in emerging practice areas allows you to say “yes” to new client inquiries and, as already mentioned, positions you as the go-to attorney when other new client needs arise.
Be ready when your clients call
Having the most current legal tech may be more critical now than it ever has been. The market conditions law firms are facing today are unlike anything the world has seen. By using legal tech to expand service capabilities, your firm can more favorably position itself for what lies ahead. You could also find yourself with better prospects for future growth by being prepared to accept new opportunities outside of your firm’s core practice areas.
Learn more about how tech can help you in our recent white paper, Six ways firms can win with legal technology in an uncertain market.