When lawyers like Jean D. Chen are looking for a way to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, they must be as creative as possible. Lawyers need to keep working, but they cannot keep their offices open as they would normally. There are a few things that can be done to make a law office efficient, safe, and adaptable. While every lawyer needs to decide for themselves, it still makes sense to study what other lawyers have done to make a difference.
Physical Locations Must Close
Jean Danhong Chen knows that law offices need to close their physical locations. These locations are often spread around large areas because that makes it easier for the firm to reach as many people as possible. However, it is not safe to have large groups of people coming in and out of the office.
Even if a lawyer works in a small office with a secretary and no other support staff, the office space itself is not large enough to keep everyone safe. Adding one client in a tight space puts both the lawyer and their secretary at risk.
Lawyers Can Work Through Video Conferencing Services
Lawyers should start working using video conferencing services. These video apps allow lawyers to speak to their clients, other attorneys, and even government offices. This is an especially important part of any business model because the local court might offer hearings via a video conferencing app. The lawyer can add their client to the conversation, and no one needs to cram into an office.
Lawyers should, however, find the video conferencing service that they feel is the safest. If the service does not protect the calls that are made, privileged information could be compromised. This is why it is important for law offices to pay for a premium service that offers the best connection quality and security.
Just like with many businesses, attorney offices have opted for Zoom Conferences, xWeb, and other digital conference call programs.
Lawyers Can Call Clients Easily
Lawyers can use virtual phone numbers to call their clients and talk about cases. A lawyer likely prefers to speak to clients in person, but that is not always possible. Lawyers need to give up the idea of traditional law culture where a big office and closed blinds indicate that an important meeting is taking place.
Talk to clients on the phone, get the job done, and move on. Nothing has really changed here. In most cases, clients have alternate numbers for their attorneys, and lawyers should already have different ways of getting in touch with their clients.
Law Offices Need To Consider Offering A La Carte Services
When lawyers charge for “billable hours”, they are charging for the full force of a big law firm. However, these billable hours are often very expensive. If people are losing their jobs, they cannot afford to pay a lawyer a ton of money for one simple service. Clients become customers, and they are not going to pay for a lawyer to pick up the phone or answer an email.
Jean D. Chen believes that law firms should offer a menu of services that clients can choose from. Lawyers that are working remotely can provide those services, and they can pass on other services to their secretaries or paralegals. Everyone at the firm will get paid, but clients can clearly see how much they are paying for each service.
If law offices try to hold onto the old model of billing, they will not have many clients. Jean Danhong Chen knows that clients will avoid hiring lawyers if they know the service is cost-prohibitive.
Lawyers Can Work Faster
Lawyers can work faster if they are at home with a computer and phone. People are not walking in and out of the office all day, and lawyers can avoid phone calls by swiping to decline on their cell phones. A lawyer can get back to clients faster, and they can quickly get through hearings without taking the time to travel to the courthouse.
At the same time, local judges, prosecutors, and public defenders can get more work done. Someone who is using video conferencing and phone calls to do their business is not slowed down by the pace of a legal office. Paralegals can do more research, and secretaries have more time to manage paperwork.
File-Sharing Makes Life Easier
Lawyers should use secure file-sharing services. A file-sharing service allows attorneys to share documents, look through evidence, and even file documents with the court. If lawyers know how to use these services, they can file paperwork in seconds. Filing is often much cheaper because lawyers are not traveling to the courthouse every day, and it is much easier to meet deadlines.
Jean D. Chen also believes that file-sharing services make it easier to edit documents for mistakes.
Lawyers Can Change Their Business Model Today
Following the advice of Jean Danhong Chen will help lawyers adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local courts and municipalities have already made changes to the way they operate, and lawyers should do the same.