The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted life for us in so many ways—economically, personally, emotionally, and in many cases, physically. But it has also caused us to see our world through a different lens—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. As the curve flattens, the lockdowns subside and business reopens, what steps should you take to reboot your law firm—and just as importantly, what lessons can you take from this experience to safeguard your firm, your team and your clients going forward? Let’s explore this question methodically.
Before you execute a reopening plan for the office, you need to look through the “pandemic lens,” so to speak, to take a look at what changes need to be made in the office. Solutions may differ a bit for every law firm, but let’s just pose a few questions to get you started:
- How do you ensure proper social distancing in the office? Will you need to reconfigure the space to give your team members more “breathing space?”
- How is your ventilation system? Does your office get lots of fresh air, or is the air stuffy and recirculated? What can you do to keep fresh air circulating, especially in a small space?
- How will you manage “crowd control?” What will you do to minimize the number of people in the office at once—especially if your state/city provides new capacity guidelines? Will you space out your client appointments? Will you keep some team members working from home for a time?
- Masks or no masks? Is there enough space in the office for workers to “social distance” without requiring a mask? Will you wear masks around clients? Will you require masks for clients coming in, and if so, will you provide them? What are the rules in your particular area?
- What about sanitation practices? Will you begin a daily sanitization of surfaces? Will you provide hand sanitizer throughout the office?
- What about testing and screening? If testing is available in your area, will you require employees to be tested? If so, how often? Will you take people’s temperatures before allowing entry?
- What role will online connections play? Will you move more toward phone/video appointments with prospective clients as opposed to in-person meetings to limit client contact?
Rebuilding Your Client Base
If you’ve lost clients as a result of the lockdowns, now is the time to start working on rebuilding that base—even if you’re not yet ready to reopen your office. Take an inventory of your client list to determine whether any of those clients might be ready to come back on board, and think about incentives for bringing them back. That said, don’t bank too much on past client relationships—begin devising a marketing strategy now to attract new clients in time for reopening.
Making a Plan
I realize there’s a lot to consider here, and people will have differing opinions on how far they should go with precautions. Some clients will take a relaxed view of precautions, while others will be germophobic. (Your local community’s reopening rules may inform your choices, too.) Your goal in any case is to formulate a plan you can live with so you can get back to running your business while keeping others and yourself as safe as possible.