By Katherine Doble
The race for an approved COVID-19 vaccine continues to engross the world, and while there’s no debate about the ultimate distribution of medicine providing a return to a more recognizable society, the way in which businesses operate, especially law firms, have been forever altered. As a matter of fact, an effort by any law firm seeking to return to a pre-pandemic operation would not only be met with resistance, it would be detrimental to success looking ahead to 2021 and beyond.
Prior to COVID-19, the legal industry, and law firms in general, was able to choose the level in which it embraced technological change. In fact, many would argue that the field itself has been notoriously slow to do so. Despite this, as the novel coronavirus infiltrated our economy, law firms were left with no choice but to re-evaluate and change the manner in which they practice law, conduct business and implement digital strategy.
While there’s nothing unusual about law firms seeking a marketing refresh in the approach to the final quarter of any given year, there has, historically, never been a time when doing so could have such a significant impact on the future of the business of law for a firm. And, there are several items that law firms need to be prepared for now in order to handle an influx of clients, an acceleration of legal proceedings and new public-facing expectations from clients once a vaccine does finally arrive.
Just as law firms check social media accounts of prospective new hires, clients are increasingly paying attention to what attorneys post online, and whether they have active accounts at all, prior to making a hiring decision.
Now that we’ve regularly experienced conducting business virtually, the days of meeting new clients or referral sources in person will be significantly limited compared to pre-pandemic times. While in-person sessions and collaboration will always be beneficial and needed, not every meeting needs to be conducted face-to-face and clients are going to continue to gravitate toward virtual options as well as be more intentional about the events they attend.
The experience has taught us to be more strategic with our time. As such, lawyers will need to embrace a strong online presence aligned with their practice area and showcase timeliness and relevance in order to stand out among competition, and perhaps more importantly, more actively get in front of referral sources. Additionally, spotlighting a law firm’s strengths, expertise, as well as company culture will be key to making recruitment and retention strides the next several years.
The winners, looking to 2021, are going to be the law firms that find ways to significantly elevate their online presence while providing personalized and positive experiences. Law firms need to work with digital media experts to analyze social media presence and determine how it could better support clients and prospects.
When was the last time you handed out a business card? Chances are, it’s been quite some time. A law firm’s website, including an attorney or practice group’s specific page, are the 2021 business cards.
The number of law firms that still lack responsive, user-friendly and intuitive websites is abundant. What’s more, law firms could be winning over more new business by simply ensuring that a website is easy to navigate, concise and that the benefits of working with your firm compared to competitors are clear.
After all, hiring an attorney is stressful enough. Combine that with the build-up of anxiety over the actual issue the prospective client is hiring an attorney for with, say, not being able to easily book an appointment—that will no doubt increase the chance the person exits a page. So, while there’s already focus on bringing prospective clients to websites, ultimately keeping them there long enough to click ‘contact’ should prove to be a firm’s improvement area.