2020 has impacted law firms in unprecedented ways. Across all jurisdictions and all practice areas, and from solo practices to the world’s largest law firms, it seems that all law firms have felt the impacts of the pandemic in one way or another. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many law firms to consider making cutbacks. With people staying home and with businesses looking to cut costs wherever they can, many law firms have felt the secondary impact of the pandemic’s economic crunch. If your firm is struggling and you are considering cutbacks, here are some additional considerations that you might want to keep in mind:
Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced many law firms to consider making cutbacks. With people staying home and with businesses looking to cut costs wherever they can, many law firms have felt the secondary impact of the pandemic’s economic crunch. If your firm is struggling and you are considering cutbacks, here are some additional considerations that you might want to keep in mind:
With their core practice areas seeing negative growth, some law firms choose to branch out instead of cutting back. For example, if a firm primarily represents injured workers, it may be able to regain some of its lost revenue by taking on non-work-related personal injury cases. Or, if an estate planning firm is struggling to find clients who are willing to spend on legal services given the uncertainty engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be able to find opportunities in the areas of elder law or estate administration.
If you practice in a particularly competitive area such as personal injury or criminal defense, now might be the time to invest more in online marketing instead of cutting back. These practice areas, in particular, have shown relative stability in this time, and, if your firm is not getting the number of leads it needs to remain profitable, a boost in your firm’s search rankings could provide a substantial return on investment (ROI).
Eventually, businesses will go back to operating normally, and, when they do, you will want to make sure that your firm can return to its full, pre-pandemic capacity. With this in mind, it is important to avoid implementing a permanent solution to a short-term problem—if it is possible to do so. For example, if you are thinking about laying off attorneys or staff members, consider whether implementing pay cuts or reducing unnecessary expenditures could provide an alternative to letting people go. If you were to ask, you would likely find that most of your firm’s lawyers and staff would be willing to take a modest pay cut instead of seeing one of their coworkers get laid off.
While the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has experienced, there are other financial resources available to businesses struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides links to several resources on its website, and various other state and federal agencies are offering loans, grants, and other financial relief programs as well. If your firm qualifies, it may be able to utilize government (or government-backed) funds to weather the storm without making cutbacks in response to the pandemic.