COVID-19 has been one of the most disruptive forces in recent memory. Even if you have not been infected with COVID-19 yourself, the public health and economic consequences are vast. Predicting the future is extremely difficult, yet there is a good chance that our society will be living with COVID-19 for quite some time.
Whether you are managing partner, attorney, or hold another position of responsibility at a Texas personal injury law firm, this is the time to be proactive. Even though there may be some trial and error, taking action now will help you adjust to this new reality. You’ll be able to better serve your clients and improve staff morale at the same time.
In this post, we want to share some ideas on how you can more smoothly run your firm in this era of COVID-20. Implementing some or all of these ideas, we’re confident that your personal injury law firm will navigate through this crisis as smoothly as possible.
Tips and Strategies to Run Your Personal Injury Law Firm Amidst COVID-19
Our first tip is likely at the top of your mind already. In fact, you may be using this technology already. Even if you or your clients aren’t under lockdown, we recommend that you take advantage of video collaboration programs. Zoom is taking up much of the conversation today, but there are other tools (like Skype) that let you synchronously communicate with others.
In the law firm context, video collaboration programs like Zoom can be used for everything from communicating with paralegals outside your office to even communicating with clients, witnesses, and experts. Texas courts and lawmakers have even acted to allow for videoconferencing technology during this global pandemic. Governor Abbott also temporarily suspended a number of statutes so that individuals can appear before notaries public via videoconference. There have been some bench trials in Texas that were recently conducted over Zoom.
Even though using Zoom for trials has been few and far between, it shows that courts are taking video collaboration programs like Zoom seriously. Even if you aren’t appearing before a judge from the comfort of your home or office, video collaboration programs are cheap and easy ways to conduct your work at home. Personal injury lawyers should embrace remote technology.
That said, it’s important to recognize that Zoom, in particular, has been under fire for security lapses. Even though Zoom has apparently patched up some of these security issues, law firms are especially vulnerable to hackers and other cybercriminals. You may want to consider other video collaboration programs that have had fewer security issues. Skype is a compelling alternative that has a better security track record, but you can find other choices by clicking here.
From video collaboration programs, you’ll next want to leverage electronic signature software. As Zoom is the leader in video collaboration programs, DocuSign is the leader in electronic signature technology. With DocuSign, you, your team, clients, and essentially anyone else can securely review and sign electronic agreements. From the comfort of your own home, you can sign everything from notices and settlements to pleadings and depositions.
Services like DocuSign can make your life significantly easier amidst COVID-19. No longer do you have to organize signing meetings and get all of your clients in one room. The days of faxing, printing, or sending documents through FedEx can be in the rearview mirror. Instead, you can simply apply your electronic signature and have the confidence that your signature is lawful.
Like Zoom and other video collaboration systems, you may also have security concerns. Companies like DocuSign become much less valuable if there are security holes or ways for cybercriminals to forge your signature. To reduce risk, DocuSign has physical security, platform security, and security processes. In the end, you and your team will need to decide whether the convenience of DocuSign makes up for potential security vulnerabilities.
Next, if you haven’t already, you and your colleagues will need to embrace the cloud. Cloud technology isn’t exactly new, yet some law firms have been slow to embrace it. The general value proposition is that cloud technology lets you and your colleagues access everything from your practice management systems to your document management systems wherever you are. You don’t need to physically access your computer at work to edit a mission-critical document. Instead, you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Therefore, if you already have a document management system or practice management system in the cloud, we recommend that you continue to leverage these tools. They are great ways to track your time, collaborate on documents, and access motion or brief templates. But what if you aren’t already leveraging cloud technology? For example, what if you don’t already have cloud-based document management or practice management system, yet you want to take advantage of these tools?
While many other organizations would be all too willing to start up a Google Doc to collaborate on a specific document, law firms are, once again, special due to their security vulnerabilities. Luckily, however, there are plenty of options that can meet law firms’ security needs. As just one example, Clio offers law firm management software that you can try for free. Even though there may be a slight learning curve, these sort of cloud-based tools may be investments worth making right now.
Fourth, encourage your team to use VPNs when working remotely. VPNs (which stand for virtual private networks) allow for a safer Internet browsing experience. VPNs are especially valuable when you (or a colleague) is trying to connect to a public WiFi hotspot. They dramatically increase the security of your phone, tablet, and laptop, keeping your web browsing experience private and secure.
A VPN is important for any type of organization, but it is especially vital for those who work for law firms. Whether you are pulling up an important email or are trying to send an important document to a client, using a VPN is an outstanding idea. The good news is that there are plenty of affordable VPN services out there, including ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Finally, simply embrace the work-from-home world that we now live in. Remote work requires trust in your team and frequent communication, whether it is through a daily Zoom meeting or more frequent calls or emails. Make sure that you and your colleagues know the day’s objectives, instructions for certain projects, and deadlines. Over-communicating is better than under-communicating here.
Patience is also important. Even though we are all working from home, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your colleagues will always be available. Yes, deadlines must be met, but keep this in mind as we are all trying to juggle our professional and personal lives at home.
Adapting to a New Reality
There’s no question that COVID-19 has dramatically changed our personal and professional lives. Our old habits of communicating with our colleagues at weekly meetings or dropping into each other’s offices are over. Instead, we must do the best work we can while under quarantine.
That being said, personal injury law firms in Texas can continue to do great work in these times. It takes commitment and a willingness to embrace technology. In the end, we believe that the tips and strategies above can help your firm get through this time with as little stress as possible. We wish you the best of luck.