The race for an approved COVID-19 vaccine continues worldwide, and while there is no debate about the ultimate proliferation of drugs that allow a return to a more recognizable society, the way companies, in particular Law firms that operate, changed forever. In fact, the efforts of a law firm looking to return to pre-pandemic operation would not only meet with opposition, but would also have a detrimental impact on success through 2021 and beyond.
Prior to COVID-19, the legal industry and law firms in general could choose the level at which they were committed to technological change. In fact, many would argue that the field itself did this notoriously slowly. Even so, when the novel coronavirus infiltrated our economy, law firms had no choice but to do business and implement, reevaluate and change the way they operate as lawyers.
While law firms don’t seek an unusual freshening up on marketing with respect to the final quarter of any given year, there has never been a time in the past when it could have such a significant impact on the future of the legal business of a firm. And there are a few points that law firms need to prepare for in order to cope with an influx of clients, acceleration of legal proceedings, and new public expectations from clients once a vaccine finally arrives.
By improving online presence, a new virtual business is being defined
Just as law firms review social media accounts of potential new hires, customers are increasingly paying attention to what lawyers post online and whether they even have active accounts before making a hiring decision.
Now that we have regular virtual business experience, the days we meet new clients or referral sources in person will be significantly limited compared to pre-pandemic times. While face-to-face meetings and collaboration are always beneficial and needed, every meeting doesn’t have to be face-to-face, and customers will continue to be interested in virtual options and more focused on the events they attend.
Experience has taught us to be more strategic with our time. Therefore, lawyers need to build a strong online presence that is tailored to their area of activity, and show timeliness and relevance in order to stand out from the competition and, perhaps more importantly, be more active in front of referral sources. Additionally, highlighting a law firm’s strengths, expertise, and corporate culture will be critical to driving recruitment and retention over the next few years.
The winners for 2021 will be the law firms who find ways to significantly increase their online presence while having personalized and positive experiences. Law firms need to work with digital media experts to analyze social media presence and determine how they can better serve clients and prospects.
Stop underestimating your website responsiveness and an effective landing page
When was the last time you handed out a business card? Chances are it was some time ago. A law firm’s website, including a lawyer or practice group specific page, features the 2021 Business Cards.
The number of law firms that still lack responsive, easy-to-use, and intuitive websites are abundant. Additionally, law firms could gain more new business simply by making sure a website is easy to navigate and clear, and that the benefits of working with your law firm compared to competitors are clear.
After all, hiring a lawyer is stressful enough. Combine this with increasing concerns about the real problem that the prospect is hiring a lawyer because, for example, they cannot simply book an appointment – this undoubtedly increases the likelihood that the person will leave a page. While the focus is already on getting prospects to websites, it should prove to be an area of improvement for a company to ultimately keep them there long enough to hit the “Contact Us” button.
Automating customer intake means better ways to build closer relationships
Most lawyers realize that despite the fact that they are not paid for the time to be retained, building an initial relationship and creating a level of trust are essential. At the same time, especially in the post-pandemic world, technology must be deployed that focuses on automating customer enrollment so that the chance of an attorney building new relationships continues to increase.
In addition to increasing efficiency and optimizing costs, automating tedious and day-to-day work allows lawyers to focus on what is valuable to the company and its cases.
In law school, attorneys learn to practice law, but not how to run a law firm. They are experts on everything, but unfortunately many are not taught how to run a forward-looking business – that has put them at a disadvantage. In fact, online automation is a trend that many lawyers had to learn during the pandemic and it certainly shouldn’t be anything to say no to the post-pandemic.
In the digital age, customers expect support at the click of a mouse, email confirmations and updates, and ongoing notifications informing about the status of their business and case. Lawyers have to adapt to the same process, and savvy have and will already outperform the competition.
Bottom line: when attorneys are not overwhelmed by the office work, they can spend time building customer relationships, strategic planning, and complex problem solving. In addition, it creates a customer-centric experience for the customer that generates positive reviews and recommendations that ultimately enable additional sales growth.
In times of growing cybersecurity threats, understanding social engineering tactics is essential
Many law firms are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks, and while many have IT specialists to prevent them, these employees are typically not directly connected to a law firm’s social media accounts. As seen during the pandemic, identity fraud hackers are increasingly employing new social engineering tactics to collect personally identifiable information from an individual from social media. They convince companies to provide information about a goal – and they get good at it, too.
Lawyers would never want to be able to divulge potentially personal information about clients, let alone confidential information about cases.
This is why law firms need to ask their digital marketing agency some tough questions: What are they doing to spot the shortcomings of a law firm’s online presence? What previous experiences do you have with mitigating potentially sensitive or challenging conversations that often start on social media? What are they doing to add extra layers of protection when it comes to setting up processes and protocols for responding to all online queries?
With the right third-party social media company to partner and respond appropriately to questions, attorneys are aloof from the interaction and are far less likely to make hasty or emotionally motivated decisions or answers.
When it comes down to it, authenticity wins
During the pandemic, photos and videos of lawyers and team members, as well as stories about clients, are the top performing content that has also generated the most leads across all law firm social media accounts.
We may be moving more and more online in every form, but that doesn’t mean that the human, authentic factor is disappearing. In fact, it should be on display so much more obviously.
From messaging and coaching lawyers and their social media pages to creating inviting and informative websites that tap new areas of business, the pandemic has highlighted a number of opportunities and proven that the right content is relevant online – and that When the pandemic is said and done, relevance will be critically important to ensuring a successful next year.