Written by NACA Member John O’Neal
The COVID-19 pandemic has given most of us more free time than we have had in a long time. While you definitely need to use some of the free time to recharge your battery and engage in some non-work activities, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to improve your practice. Here are a few quick tips:
1. Review your list of current clients. Make and execute decisions on some of the cases that you have not worked on in a while. Disengage from the cases you need to get out of and re-engage on the cases that you need to work on. Reconnect with the client if it has been a while since you have touched base. Assess statutes of limitations in all unfiled cases.
2. In all of your litigation cases, review your case management plan. If you do not have a case management plan, create one and think through the steps needed to execute it. Discovery, motions, depositions, mediation, and establish timelines if appropriate. Also devise estimated costs for the different phases and facets of the case so you can better account for your time and fees, as well as what it may cost your client for your handling of the case.
3. Review your monthly expenditures and determine if you need to cut any items, add any items, or reassess some of the items on which you are currently spending.
4. Go through your list of accounts receivable, a/k/a clients who owe you money. Assess the probability of receiving payment and then proceed accordingly.
5. Think and rethink your current areas of practice. Is it time for you to disengage from certain areas of practice? Is it time for you to learn and undertake new areas of practice? Identify areas of practice in which there is a shortage of attorneys in your geographical area.
Nowadays, you can use technology to broaden the geographical area that you service and cover. You can also use technology to obtain resources, content, and relationships to help you learn new areas of practice and obtain mentorship and guidance as you begin handling new cases. Often, to get the connections, resources, information, and additional fresh perspectives for your cases and practice, you have to look nationally versus locally. For me, joining the National Association of Consumer Advocates is one of the best career moves I have made. I should have done it years earlier.
Do not keep doing what everyone else is doing and pulling your hair out about how you will beat or keep up with the competition. To the contrary, think outside the box, do something different, fill the voids around you, and see the results. This is especially important for the newer lawyer.
6. Connect with some of your colleagues and your top referral sources. Identify your top clients and reach out to them directly with a card, phone call, or other means of communication.
7. Review and update your website. Do not delegate or leave this task to someone else. You are the legal expert and should have the best idea as to what content is needed in the current legal marketplace of new clients. It is okay to have your web developer review your proposed edits but do not let the developer be solely responsible for the content on your site. And if you do not have a website, seriously look into getting one...and soon!
8. Determine ways you can gain an edge on your competition. What are your strengths and unique selling propositions that can separate you from your competition? Also identify any current weaknesses or limitations that you can work on to better improve your standing in the marketplace.
9. Find ways to give back. Mentor young lawyers. Be a resource for people who are interested in a legal career. Connect with your college or law school alumni association and take a leadership role. Donate money, time, or resources to the community. Start a scholarship fund for high school students seeking to attend college or college students seeking to attend law school. Reach out to local organizations and groups as to how you can provide free consultations for workshops or resources/information to better educate them on their rights.
10. Remember where you came from. If your family and friends and hometown provided you support that helped you accomplish your goal of becoming a lawyer, think of ways you can reconnect and give back to say thanks. Remember that these people and institutions should represent your warm market and can often be the source of new clients and relationships that can really boost your practice.
I pray that each of you remains healthy and safe during this public health crisis. Look forward to connecting with you again in the future. Take good care.