As a law firm, being able to adapt to change is crucial. Never has this statement been more true than during these uncertain times. Our June 2nd panel, presented by Atlanta-based trial attorney Erin Gerstenzang, discussed some tips and tricks on how to prepare your firm and help it to survive through future disruptions. While it’s impossible to predict exactly what the future holds, Gerstenzang suggested adapting a model used by the military called VUCA, which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.
Volatility is about changes that cause unexpected reactions, but the reason for them is understood. In these cases, it’s important for you to be adaptable and quick to respond. One way of doing this is through the use of technology. As a lawyer, it will be important for you to not only provide excellent service but have unique and exceptional marketing strategies. What better way to do that than through online tactics? Gerstenzang emphasizes that technology isn’t only about efficiency, it’s about a new way to build your business. Through software like Gumroad, Kajabi, Squarespace, and Community Lawyer, you can create your own firm website, take online courses and much more.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example of uncertainty. While the law still remains as relevant as ever, the effect of the virus on specific legal areas is significant. For example, when stay-at-home orders were in place, the crime rate decreased, and so did calls to criminal defense firms. While there is uncertainty about when things will go back to normal, what remains constant is the fact that, despite the slowdown, there is still a large number of people who need access to legal help. While some may not be able to afford a lawyer, that doesn’t mean you can’t prepare your firm to help them. For example, you could expand your services to offer advice and guidance to someone who is choosing to represent themselves in a small misdemeanor case. You can also look into providing DIY tools on your website that allow prospective clients to do some of the legal work themselves.
When there are a lot of moving parts that contribute to a disruption, you might be feeling out of your depth and unsure of where to start when it comes to future-proofing. The main method discussed by Gerstenzang is the “lift and shift,” which involves taking an existing idea and adapting it to your specific area of law in order to be better equipped for whatever the future holds. For example, finding ways to automate certain processes and cut down on in-person meetings is a great way to make your firm adaptable to any future event that makes going out and meeting with an attorney difficult – such as the current pandemic. Online tools that allow people to fill out forms and pay for services without having to leave their homes makes it not only easier for them, but allows you to be flexible about when you get to work on those documents.
Ambiguity is the most difficult portion of this model to deal with because it involves the unknown. However, it is also the portion that allows for the most innovation. Why? Because you have nothing to lose. The future is unpredictable, but there are a few things you, as a small law firm, can do. First off, adopting DIY tools and adding them to your site could significantly impact your firm by providing resources for an entire section of the consumer world that isn’t sure they need a lawyer. While it may sound counterintuitive to offer something that allows someone to take care of a legal issue, it could potentially create a pipeline that leads back to your business. Not every legal problem is simple enough for an individual to take care of themselves.
In short, it’s important to look at consumers’ needs and pinpoint which ones could be better served through means that you don’t already offer. While the belief that most people prefer face to face meetings with legal advocates, we’ve seen that there are events that could make that difficult for both parties. The solution is utilizing technology and providing innovative services that allow individuals the opportunity to explore their legal issues in a different way.
To hear more about how to future proof your small firm, watch the full webinar below.