Marketing Amid COVID-19 – Part 1

How do you market your law firm during a crisis?

Instinctually you may recoil at the very thought. Burying your head in the sand probably sounds more appealing.

When state-at-home orders were first issued, priority one was deploying technology to work remotely. Law firms put their heads down and focused on getting work done. New client intake dropped precipitously. Prospects assumed firms were closed and lawyers were preoccupied coping with the new normal.

Four months later we are feeling the effects of stalled marketing efforts. It’s time to make adjustments and pick back up where we left off.

Advice from the Best

Fortunately good suggestions abound and we will explore them during the month of July. First up, thoughts from two members of the LMA (Legal Marketing Association) on how to elevate existing client relationships.

Clients Today Mean Business Tomorrow

Referrals are the backbone of any business. Clients won’t forget if you are there for them during a time of upheaval.

Call

Pick up the phone and talk to existing clients. Support them personally and professionally. Offer hope. Focus on client priorities. Ask: “What do you need from us to get through this?”

Distill

Give succinct advice. Clients are overwhelmed, under pressure, and want quick, understandable answers. Avoid long-winded responses or text-heavy content on blogs and web pages. Decipher and distill. For frequently asked questions, create brief email alerts or a five minute podcast to which clients can subscribe.

Become

The best advice? Be accessible. Clients should see you as a trusted advisor they can reach any time – within reason.

Read the full LMA article here.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

How COVID-19 Will Change Solo and Mid-Size Law Firms

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A recent report by Clio assessing the impacts of the coronavirus on the legal industry and consumers found that the virus has created a 40 percent drop in the number of new legal matters opened per week. Almost half of the polled consumers said that if they had a legal issue, they would delay seeking legal help until after the virus subsided. Further, 22 percent of consumers indicated they were under the impression that attorneys stopped working altogether because of COVID-19.

From our friends at NW Sidebar.

This post focuses on how COVID-19 is likely to affect small to mid-size law firms. I encourage you to read the full post. Here are some key points of interest:

Life is different and also the same. Clients expect you to cater to their needs. Put yourself in their shoes and you will do well.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis

 

Professional Liability Fund Extends April Payment Deadline

The Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund is allowing lawyers up to 60 days beyond the April 10, 2020 quarterly installment deadline to make the April payment without license suspension.

During the Extension Period, lawyers deferring payment will continue to be covered under the 2020 PLF Primary Coverage Plan.  If the PLF receives payment on or before June 10, 2020, we will also waive all late fees incurred during the Extension Period and allow the lawyer to continue participation in the installment plan under PLF Policy 3.300. This policy change does not impact the next installment payment, which is due on July 10, 2020.

As a reminder, because the OSB Bar Center has moved its operations offsite, we cannot accept payment in person.  Click here to pay your assessment online, or send your check to PO Box 231600, Tigard, OR 97281-1600 Attn: Accounting Department.

We hope this 60 day extension and waiver of late fees assist our lawyers to navigate the financial challenges presented by this COVID-19 pandemic.  Please let me know if you have any questions.  Please stay safe and healthy.

Read more here.

Chief Justice Order Amended Today

This evening Oregon Chief Justice Walters issued amended CJO 20-006.

In addition to continuing the Level 3 health restrictions already in place, the Chief Justice is seeking legislative authority to (1) extend or suspend timelines currently set by statute or rule, and that apply after the initiation of both criminal and civil cases; and (2) ensure the ability to appear in court by telephone or other remote means in most circumstances. If that authority is granted, a supplemental order will be issued.

With exceptions, proceedings and trials scheduled to begin earlier than June 1, 2020, are postponed, and no trials will be scheduled to begin before June 1, 2020.

The Chief Justice also ordered temporary suspension of collection fees and amended UTCR 21.090 and repealed UTCR 21.120. The net result of this change is to permit the use of electronic signatures by declarants if created with secure software.

Read the full press release here.

Your Constructive Comments Needed on Court Operations

By now you’ve likely read the following email:

Submit your suggestions by email to pubaff@osbar.org. Deadline: Sunday, March 22 at Noon.

Keep in Mind

We know what slows the spread of COVID-19. Flattening the curve by social distancing and cancelling or postponing activities. Court operations require many people to be present – cleaning staff to wipe surfaces, security, judicial staff, lawyers, parties, and for some cases jurors and jury pools.

If we persist as if nothing has changed, we aren’t social distancing and COVID-19 will spread.

The Role of Technology

Can technology come to the rescue? Maybe. Hearings by phone come to mind. It may also be possible to resolve some matters by video conferencing.

Priorities

But are the matters eligible for disposition by phone and video the most important judicial need? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We need time. Time to assess and time to make arrangements. Slowing things down gives us that.

The Snowball Effect

Believe me, I get it. Postponing matters set for March or April affects everything down the docket. Please be patient. We have one of the best court systems in the country. Look at your calendar. What can you juggle or free up? Talk to clients. The measures laid out in the Chief Justice’s Order are meant to save lives and spare illness. With a spirit of cooperation we can work this out with judges, judicial staff, and opposing counsel.

Parting Thoughts

Day-to-day life has changed. Courts must also change. So must our practices. Acting fast and acting now will shorten the impact of COVID-19 and will benefit us all in the long run.

Stay safe.

All Rights Reserved 2020 Beverly Michaelis