Free LegalFuel seminar shines the spotlight on tools and resources for remote work
From chat bots to cloud-based files, the latest high-tech practice management tools have taken on a new significance for lawyers working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say.
A new webinar, “Keep Calm, Lawyer On: Top Tools and Resources for Remote Work,” is available for free on the Bar’s LegalFuel website. The webinar includes a panel of experts who offer tips and describe practice management tools that are available at special discounts for Florida Bar members.
Mark Homer, CEO with GNGF, a legal marketing agency, says advertising campaigns are still appropriate, but attorneys should be careful about the tone.
“I really encourage people not to lead with fear mongering, it’s not the message we want,” he said. “Something like, we know you are in pain and we’re available to help.”
Attorneys should raise their community profile on social media, consider paid social media advertising, and develop client newsletters, he said, adding that Mailchimp is good for beginners.
Maddy Martin, head of growth and education for Smith.ai, said the virtual receptionist service allows law firms to extend their hours of operation at a time when more people are likely to call during non-business hours.
“By default, many businesses are not answering the phone right now, so we want to make sure that no matter how people get in touch, they receive a prompt and accurate response.”
Managing first contact with a potential client is vital to a firm’s success, Martin said.
“We know that two out of three potential clients base their decision to hire on your initial responsiveness to their first touchpoint with you, their first call, or email, or chat,” she said, adding Smith.ai receptionists are trained to give potential clients the information they need to make a hiring decision. They can also determine when a caller is a better candidate for referral, building good will, Martin said.
Smith.ai receptionists work on multiple platforms, which has become more important during the COVID-19 crisis when potential clients are home with other family members and don’t want to be overheard on the phone, Martin said.
“So what we see is a trend toward more text-based communications that allow for more discretion and privacy, that are silent, so to speak,” she said.
LawPay, a Bar Member Benefits provider, gives lawyers the ability to offer credit card payment for their services, something consumers have come to expect, said LawPay communications director, Amy Mann.
“From a client acquisition standpoint, it’s a huge deal, it’s also a great deal for lawyers just for ease of use,” she said.
Convenience can be its own reward, Mann said.
“We found that people who send out electronic invoices, on average, 57 percent of them get paid within the same day.”
Law firms can post a pay button on their website that links to a LawPay secure server, but it’s not necessary, Mann said.
“If you just want to copy and paste that link to an email and shoot it out to your clients who are overdue on their payments and remind them, you can do that,” she said.
And as the COVID-19 crisis takes its toll on the economy, LawPay also gives attorneys the ability to offer payment plans, she said.
“That’s one of our most popular features,” she said. “This is something that is really important right now, but people have been taking advantage of that for a long time.”
Nefra MacDonald, affinity programs manager for Clio, a Bar Member Benefits provider, said the legal practice management software company offers different levels of service that can be especially useful during the COVID-19 emergency.
“Firms that use Clio can respond in a very agile way to what’s happening, whether that’s a natural disaster like we see in Florida on a seasonal basis, or is something like this,” she said. “Firms that use Clio can resume business fairly easily with an internet connection.”
The company, MacDonald said, is taking the crisis seriously
“We launched the Clio’s COVID-19 Legal Relief Initiative about a month ago,” she said. “And we set aside about $1 million to help law firms migrate to the cloud, to help provide other assistance for businesses to stay open.”
The company is offering educational seminars with related professionals, such as accountants, she said. The next training program will cover federal stimulus programs, she said.
Kristin Tyler, co-founder of LAWCLERK, said she has been hearing from lawyers who are staying up until 2 a.m. to complete their legal work after caring for their children all day.
Better to use LAWCLERK, she said.
“We help connect attorneys who need to pick up some extra freelance work with attorneys who need help, so we’re kind of a matchmaking service,” she said.
“Think demand letters, complaints, motions, appellate briefs, big research projects, agreements, a lease, a contract, any sort of written contract to get off your to do list,” she said.
Hiring attorneys pay a flat fee, and freelancers benefit from the assurance that they will get paid, she said. The company boasts a network of 2,800 freelancers, all U.S. licensed attorneys in all 50 states.
Freelancers submit resumes and writing samples, and in the rare instance — Tyler estimates that it is about 1% — that the hiring attorney isn’t satisfied with the work, LAWCLERK will use its own attorneys to complete the job, Tyler said.
“This is a game changer, especially for solo attorneys. You can leverage the time and talent of really qualified freelance lawyers to get the job done, without you having to burn the midnight oil.”
LegalFuel practice management advisors are also available to assist via its live chat Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. eastern or by emailing [email protected].
The Florida Bar has also built a comprehensive COVID-19 web page that offers the latest news, from Supreme Court orders, CLE, and practice management guides, to legal aid and consumer resources.