Law firm layoffs swept the industry during the Great Recession of 2008. Upwards of 10 thousand lawyers lost their jobs.
No one knows for sure what the post-COVID-19 lockdown landscape will look like.
There are hopes for a V-shaped recovery—a simple bounceback as economies re-open. But whether you are optimistic or pessimistic about the immediate prospects for the U.S. and global economy, the current environment has to get law firms thinking about how they can prepare to weather the next recession—whenever it may come.
The legal industry is in the midst of transformative change regardless of what the economic climate looks like. Traditional business models are being challenged by new methods of structuring the delivery of legal services.
The changes taking place have a common theme of creating a more consumer-driven marketplace. It’s no longer “lawyer knows best,” and any long-term strategy has to have this kind of consumer engagement as its underpinning.
One place to begin is to take a look at your client base. If you rely on a small number of corporate clients, then diversification and adding larger numbers of small businesses is a good way to begin.
Developing a content strategy for small business prospects is a good idea under any circumstances, but it has special value in a plan that has recession-proofing as its core.
When businesses face hard times, loyalty is going to play at least some role in what costs they cut. If there’s a gray area, you want to make sure your legal services are what survives the ax. Your chances are better if you’ve developed a stronger professional relationship with the client.
While much of that takes place face-to-face and happens after they’ve formally become a client, loyalty-building does need to begin with how you handle the initial digital marketing.
Write content on issues that your potential new clients care about. Let them educate themselves—at least a little bit—on your dime. They’ll remember that you gave away some of your knowledge. Doing a pay-per-click advertising campaign to get new clients is a great idea and we strongly suggest it. But it doesn’t have the loyalty-building capacity that a free content campaign can start to generate.
Once you’ve got a growing number of smaller clients diversifying your base, continue to use your digital resources to strengthen the relationship. Offer a free webinar on important issues—a good example right now might be employer obligations post-COVID-19.
You could also offer an annual free consultation. In good times, your billable time is already going to your big-ticket corporate clients. It’s an investment in the future to give some free time to the smaller clients that might stay with you based on a personal relationship.