Every lawyer in the United States that owns a law firm is at war right now — suddenly and unpredictably. I don’t mean that literally, of course. As a lawyer you’re not being asked to pick up a weapon. But you are facing an enemy that is attacking your status quo on several fronts.
The ambiguity of the situation is causing some lawyers to flail unproductively, while others forge ahead and act decisively to secure the next decade of success for their firms.
As a law firm owner, you’re in control — and you can use this time to position your firm
As a law firm owner, you’re in control of your own destiny. You chose to be your own boss for a reason. You took risks and worked hard to attain that control and freedom of choice, and to put your destiny in your own hands. That choice is a reflection of who you are, of your entrepreneurial spirit. Even if your status quo has been disrupted (and whose hasn’t?), you now have the opportunity — perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — to position your law practice to win post-crisis while at the same time serving your clients and your community through the crisis.
Your clients and your community need you now more than ever. If you’re healthy, you are not a victim. If you owned your own firm immediately prior to the crisis then you are not one of the 16 million+ people who have lost their jobs over the past three weeks alone. You’re a lawyer and this is your opportunity. Now is the time to fight to secure your future.
The business of owning a law firm is usually predictable in terms of input and output. There are standard and reliable things that any law firm owner can do to be successful in business. These things produce methodical and incremental gains for every lawyer who does them consistently over time. On the marketing side, these are the things that we teach our lawyer-customers how to do while providing them the technology to do them easily. If you were with LawLytics before the COVID-19 crisis hit, and if you have been following our playbook, attending our customers-only masterminds, and communicating with your clients through your LawLytics-powered website and blog — you know. You’ve built a solid foundation from which to springboard your practice to new heights. Those fundamentals will keep working, and you should continue to do them through the crisis even while looking for new opportunities to expand your reach, reputation and goodwill.
In normal times, LawLytics customer law firms win the race (often times against much bigger firms with much bigger marketing budgets), and build the practices that they want much like the Tortoise wins the race — by steadily moving forward without looking for shortcuts or falling for illusions of marketing magic. This produces better marketing ROI, a better online reputation, and a more sustainable, reliable and authentic marketing presence that doesn’t rely on SEO tricks or on paid ads. This means that no competitor can beat them by outspending them. In the thick of the COVID-19 crisis this is still very much the case.
LawLytics customers don’t have large monthly obligations to marketing agencies, and they don’t need to wait around for an agency to do things for them — they are empowered to take bold and decisive action from the solid foundation to build an insurmountable lead over lawyers who work with agencies or who struggle to make cheap do-it-yourself website software work for them.
This is more important now than ever because law firm owners are at a strategic inflection point with the COVID-19 crisis.
Compared to the abundant opportunities and steady rewards of doing the core marketing activities that are known to work during “normal” times, there are very few world-altering events that provide lawyers with a career-defining opportunity — the opportunity to multiply their success and grow their practice and reputation in a very short period of time. Each lawyer might live through two or three such externalities in their career, and successfully recognizing and capturing but one of them will have a profoundly positive impact that can last for the duration of their career.
All lawyers are in such a moment with the COVID-19 crisis. It’s up to you to recognize it as opportunity for your firm.
This is a strategic inflection point, after which the world will likely never again look the same. And it’s not the virus that is causing the change, it’s the government’s reaction to the virus — whether foolish or wise. And at the heart of the change are the laws that are being leveraged and created.
Health care professionals are on the front lines of the fight against the virus. Their heroism is easy to see and describe. Lawyers are also on the front lines — or at least we should be. As a lawyer you are needed now, and you’ll be indispensable in the aftermath. The cleanup and the legal work that will come with it will be, I predict, of a scope and magnitude that no living lawyer has seen in their lifetime.
Opportunities for business, community education and community service are everywhere
Just look at the headlines, which are teeming with opportunities to serve and earn for lawyers who take the time think them through:
• 10% of all US jobs gone in three weeks.
• 30% missed or delinquent rent payments for April as of today.
• Botched rollouts and ambiguous and ever-changing guidance of CARES Act related funding designed to help preserve jobs.
• Small businesses struggling to understand and apply for PPP funding.
• People being arrested for not wearing masks.
• Domestic violence arrests skyrocketing.
• Alcohol consumption in the home up sharply.
• Workers dying from COVID-19 after their employer failed to take precautions.
• Hospitals delaying other, non-COVID-related life-saving treatments.
• Shuttered commercial real estate sitting on a time bomb that can’t be defused.
• Food bank lines stretching for miles for limited supplies.
• An increasingly desperate population unable to earn honest money because the government is suppressing their ability to do so.
• Parts of the US could ease restrictions by summer.
• But there might be several waves of lockdowns, even after this first one passes.
I could go on and on. How much legal work can you think of that has already arisen or will arise from just the things listed above? What do you, as a lawyer, know (or could easily learn) that you could use to help people and businesses that are or will be affected by the things I listed above? What else can you think of?
My point is, you can make a big impact (and likely earn significant money) by addressing these and other legal issues that are being created, mutating and proliferating like a virus before our eyes.
But if you’re sitting around today, waiting for things to get back to normal, or worse, waiting for somebody to save you and your practice, you’re going to miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Which brings me back to the strategic inflection point.
Incremental progress or “waiting it out” is not a high-probability strategy. There is too much variability, and too much irrationality based on too little information to understand what we are waiting for.
A “wait for things to come around” approach may, in the best-case, return you to status quo. But between today and that future potential best-case scenario, there is a whole lot of potential downside. On the other hand, by moving proactively, right now, even while sheltering in place, you can create a world where, as an attorney, you can set the previous status quo (of your income and marketing reach) as the floor, and create an opportunity to increase by 10x or even 100x the success you had pre-crisis.
You’ll spend energy either way, and you get to choose whether to channel it into growth or worry
You’re your own boss. So you get to decide which game you want to play. Both games take effort and energy, but one is clearly and objectively more productive and more fun. You can choose to spend your energy:
• Waiting for a return to the status quo: If you’re waiting for the status quo to return, you may be waiting for a long time, or a short time, or forever. You don’t know. You’re waiting on externalities that are beyond your control. And if you’re playing this game, you may be wasting a lot of energy engaged in useless worrying and hoping. Waiting for somebody to save you is exhausting and disempowering.
• Proactively creating your future: Doing things to move our practices forward, especially new things that take us out of our comfort zones, takes productive energy spent at the strategic inflection point. And unlike hoping for a return to the status quo, this approach is a lot of fun because instead of waiting to play a part in an old and existing system, you get to envision and create a new system, with new rules and new rewards.
There are hundreds of potential things that you can do right now, on your firm’s website and in the currently digitally-assisted physical world, to proactively lead through this strategic inflection point. As long as you are in control of your law firm’s website, and you have the right legal marketing mindset, you can start creating your future right now by becoming a leader through this crisis — by helping where you can in the moment and by predicting and preparing for the onslaught of work to come.
If you are a LawLytics customer, we’re here to help you figure out how to best position your firm, and how to best spend your energy during this strategic inflection point.
And if you’re not yet a LawLytics customer, the best way to discover how we can help you get ahead during this crisis while building a foundation for succeeding for years to come is to schedule a free online 20-minute demo. We’re talking with attorneys every day who are glad that they did the demo because it changed their perspective and opened the doors of new opportunities. During the demo you’ll interact with the LawLytics platform so you can see first-hand how it’s different. This will empower you to make an informed decision about whether switching your website to LawLytics, or starting a new website with LawLytics, is a good match for you.
Until next time, I hope that you and your family are safe and healthy, and that you’re in good spirits and working towards a productive future.