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As an immigration attorney, I saw our clients take this time to prioritize the pursuit of their lawful immigration status, and that was beneficial not only for our business but also to the way clients are finding our work more important than ever. There’s a sense of community building among us, and for that we’re grateful.
Calls have slowed to a trickle
I’ve been an attorney since 1997, and I normally receive a steady stream of calls. However, since I’m a Florida car accident lawyer, and people are driving much less, my calls have slowed to a trickle. (I have many other lawyer friends who are experiencing the same drop in calls across most practice areas.)
I still had many cases pending, so we are still busy. But we will feel the impact in 12-18 months, from cases that we aren’t generating now. We expect that our business will return to normal once the shutdown is over.
We are also evolving to consider new claims related to business interruption insurance. We believe insurance companies have been wrongly denying these claims. We have received a few calls of this nature and expect to receive more in the coming months.
David Reischer, Esq.
The bad, the good
The bad is that our law firm and pro bono practice has completely shut down. The coronavirus has prevented our law clinic from admitting new clients to consult with an attorney at our physical office located in mid-town NYC.
The good, however, is that many new clients are still able to be serviced on our online web portal. The coronavirus has expedited an already well-established trend. Even before the coronavirus outbreak, clients were becoming more comfortable with asking legal questions online to get legal advice from an attorney over the Internet.
Not all doom and gloom
The Coronavirus particularly had an impact on my business due to my area of practice. My bread and butter are real estate and tax lien foreclosure actions. Both Federal and State laws and administrative actions have essentially put a stop to my litigation work for the foreseeable future.
For me, getting back to work is not just a matter of when the courts return to normal operations, but also when eviction moratoriums are lifted. At least 70% of my income comes from both initiating and defending against eviction and foreclosure actions. Needless to say, my profits are down.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. The amount of phone calls from people interested in my services and views on my YouTube are actually going up. The amount of housing and real estate-related legal issues caused by the Coronavirus is crazy, and people are interested in watching legal content on how the Coronavirus has impacted real estate law. So much so that I believe my profits will be greater than before once I’m back to normal operations.
Brian Pendergraft, Esq.
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Mixed effect on business
The coronavirus pandemic has had a mixed effect on my business. I practice estate planning. For obvious reasons, the pandemic has people thinking about their mortality. Every new client since March has cited the pandemic as their motivation for wanting to get their affairs in order. That’s the good.
Prior to the crisis, I did the majority of my client meetings via Zoom, so the pandemic really hasn’t affected my operations significantly in that regard. What has been challenging is running a law practice from home with two small children—one and three—who need to be looked after all day. My wife is an attorney as well, and she’s been busy too. So, we juggle work and child care all day.
I’m grateful that we both have work to do, but it’s certainly been a challenge keeping up with everything. Another challenge is that I’ve had to completely revamp my marketing plan. Prior to COVID, my marketing efforts were focused on networking and presentations. I’ve scrapped those and pivoted to content marketing as my primary marketing focus.
Decrease in inquiries
Coronavirus is definitely negatively impacting our business. At our firm, we are seeing a decrease in inquiries across the board and also lower conversion rates from leads to clients.
While the decrease in inquiries is hit only by about 20 percent, we’re seeing conversion rates being half of what they used to be, which means we are getting about 40 percent of our expected clients.
We’ve had to let some people go to help lean out our operations to maintain the health of our firm, but if this continues, we may have to take more drastic measures.
Lessons I learned
Like many other law firms, we were hit hard by the current Coronavirus situation, both in terms of revenue as well as operations.
Luckily, because we are in an area prone to hurricanes (Houston, TX), we had a robust continuity plan to allow us to continue servicing our clients in the event of a disaster. We were able to quickly deploy approximately 95% of our workforce to work remotely from home, and it has been working quite smoothly for almost two months!
Two important lessons I learned as a result of the Coronavirus:
First – although I’d always been against telecommuting, I’ve learned that the right staff members, with the appropriate motivation, can be just as productive working at home as they are working at the office.
Second – I think I may have too much office space. With almost 40,000 square feet of office spaces at seven offices nationwide, we need to look at just exactly how many staff members we actually need working on-site. I believe this outbreak will fundamentally change the way law firms (and most other businesses) conduct business into the future, and some of these changes may be very beneficial.
For me, it has been somewhat uneven. I would say that 1/4 of clients are doing more business, and 3/4 of clients are doing less business. Entrepreneurs are launching startups unabated—that may come as a surprise to those who’ve never felt the contagious, near-tangible, often-irrational energy of a startup founder.
Fortunately, I run a lean ship and have very little overhead. But, I am proceeding cautiously as my firm is new, and therefore fragile.
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