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Pivoting To Handle COVID-19 In A Law Firm

Posted By Justin Fromke, Friday, May 8, 2020
Updated: Thursday, May 7, 2020

Nakia Bradley-Lawson, NALS President and Director of Operations and Facilities at Gevurtz Menashe in Portland Oregon, shared with me how Gervurtz Menashe pivoted quickly and got 70+ employees out of the office and working remotely, most of whom are willfully technologically challenged, in response to the recent stay-at-home order. Here are some of the steps and accomplishments they made:

 

  • They immediately established a core team to work in-office to support the majority of the firm’s employee work-from-home efforts.
  • They created safety protocols to confirm the safety of those core team members working in-office. By maintaining social distancing and limiting the number of people allowed in the office at any particular time, they helped those in-office team members to feel safer and better able to concentrate on the job at hand.
  • They rolled out all employees taking phone calls from home with MiCollab, Zoom meetings, etc. By rethinking the firm’s existing technology and then using it to the fullest extent possible, they were able to continue to communicate with their clients, other counsel, and each other. It makes much more sense to have desk phones forward to employees rather than giving out their home or cell phone numbers to clients and/or opposing counsel.
  • They initiated firm-wide messaging and tech training over Zoom, which helped to connect with employees in a new, more efficient way. Training shouldn’t stop if employees are still working full time and is another way of showing them that the firm is interested in increasing their knowledge and helping them better handle the firm’s resources and software.
  • They reorganized all of the workflows to compensate for equipment deficiencies. By taking advantage of employee pliability and guiding them to refine their approach to client work, the workflow for their cases continued to move forward.  
  • They created a beehive approach to client services, building a safety net for clients if a team member is sidelined. By having everyone on the team knowledgeable about everything happening on that matter, if someone is unable to work for any period of time, others on that team can pick up and get things completed without waiting for one team member to return.
  • They adapted administrative processes to make up for administrative staff’s physical absence.
  • TEAMWORK! They built a team to address firm needs, soliciting solutions to problems from all perspectives of the business. This requires creativity and is something that will be valuable going forward.
  • They continued with more thoughtful communication, with messages being delivered multiple times to ensure the retention of information. Knowing that employees are distracted by the barrage of negative news makes this really important. You want their full attention to important information and delivering it multiple times in different ways can accomplish that.
  • They had more frequent “face-to-face,” aka Zoom, meetings to push initiatives forward. This helps people continue to feel connected to one another. Rather than using email for all communication, it helps to actually see how people are doing.

 

By using these methods, Gevurtz Menashe was able to continue giving their clients the best service possible and to meet court and other deadlines on a continuing business. While no one expected these stay-at-home orders to be initiated or to last as long as they have, it would never hurt to have a plan in place in case it is necessary in the future. Start with the information provided above and help your firm develop its own plan. Looking at this information can show your firm where it needs to perhaps upgrade or invest in workable solutions. For instance, does your firm have a Zoom account? A free account will cut off the call after 40 minutes. This has been an invaluable resource in my own firm for “virtual” happy hours just so we can check in with each other. Think outside the box on ways to make remote working easier and more reliable for the firm as a whole.

 

 

-by Kathy Sieckman, PP, PLS, ACP

Tags:  COVID-19  law  law firm 

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