According to Deloitte’s research, nearly 75 % of millennials believe a “work-from-home” or “work remotely” policy is important today. “Remote working” is not a new concept. As per a recent study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one out of five professionals works from outside the office location at any given time.
Everyone, even lawyers are nowadays digitally connected, most of the time with clients and colleagues, when a face-to-face meeting does not happen. In many instances, courtrooms have been accepting virtual testimonies too. Millennials, even in the legal field are breaking the need for physical presence in the office on a regular basis.
Now, that globally it has become a need of the hour, it is time the legal industry embraces the change. According to Techreport 2018, “Virtual firms” were stated to be the future of the legal industry and today, it seems to have become the ‘new reality’. We understand the change can be scary for lawyers and law firm marketers alike, especially if it is the first time you’re working remotely.
This list of tips will help you to prepare yourself and your legal team to work successfully remotely.
1. Schedule Daily Check-Ins:
It is not about phone conversations or email sign-ins. It is about having face-to-face interactions with your clients and fellow law associates on a daily basis when your law firm is working remotely. With communication tools like RingCentral Video, Skype, Join.me, you can do group video chats and send free messages. Your law firm can also use services like GoToMeeting, or Google Hangouts, to discuss cases together through video meetings.
2. Communicate Regularly with your Team and Clients:
With mandatory social distancing practice, a sense of isolation can set-in. This may lead to a negative impact on one’s psychology. To cope with the situation, it is important that you communicate with your team effectively using various communication tools. With the help of these tools, you can not only keep track of your legal team’s progress but also assure your clients that they are not left out when they need legal assistance.
3. Utilize Digital Technology Efficiently:
In the current global business scenario, loss of client business is something you absolutely want to avoid. You need to utilize digital technology efficiently. So, start using collaboration tools (some are available for free) to help protect your law firm from loss of business. You can choose collaboration tools like Slack, Basecamp, Flowdock, etc., and let your law associates work remotely together, discussing cases, giving a status update, or sharing case files. Most cloud storage services today follow privacy regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR that encrypt sensitive client information thus, enabling lawyers to share legal databases securely.
4. Set Realistic Expectations for your Law Firm’s Growth:
The current situation is unprecedented, hence you have to understand that the efficiency level of your lawyers may get affected. Therefore, it is vital that you set realistic expectations of growth in the coming months. While working remotely, you can measure success based on task scheduling, deadlines, and assessing deliverables for each task/case. With communicating tools like Asana, you can delegate tasks/cases, check progress and stay organized with chat within the task/case.
5. Measure the Efficiency of Team-based Outcomes Instead of Daily Activity:
With remote working, you cannot manage every aspect of your legal team’s work, instead, focus on outcomes and evaluate your team based on it. With software like Time Doctor or Jira you can remotely check how your team is doing work. You can also measure the efficiency and progress of your team by using software like DoneThis.
6. Provide Requisite Resources to your Team:
When your lawyers or marketing associates are working remotely, you must ensure that they have all the requisite resources like a laptop, software, mobile devices or even high-speed internet connection or any other resources whatsoever needed to work remotely. Then only this work-from-home concept will work or else after a few days you’ll be left wondering what your team is doing.
7. Manage Distractions:
With mandatory “remote working” due to this lockdown situation, stress and distractions from work will get higher. You and your teammates are undergoing this stressful situation of balancing personal life and work, together. So, it is important to manage distractions, for enhancing work efficiency and minimizing stress. To work stress-free, you must define a dedicated workplace at home and ensure no one disturbs you while working. We recommend using tools like RescueTime, to track your time spent on daily activities and enable efficient work-life balance. It will also enable you to work proactively on task scheduling thereby helping you in managing distractions.
8. Adopt Flex-Working Hours:
With the current scenario, regular 8-hour work is out of the window! Now, you have to build trust in your team and give them space to get the work done on flexible hours. You can still keep track of work and evaluate your team’s work with Taskworld, Confluence, etc. By adopting this flexible working hours concept, your law firm can build a ‘firm culture’ that will ultimately benefit clients, with increased flexibility and responsive communications.
These are some of the tips to help you and your law firm to work remotely in a smooth way. With the increased digital connectivity and advancement in software, virtual law practice, and virtual law firms are about to become a new reality soon.
If you are still feeling anxious about not being able to see your team at your firm, it is OK! Every change takes time to get adjusted. Have trust in your team, after all, you hired them for their skills.
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