Posted by Amy Bell, founder of Legal Futures Associate Teal Compliance
We are living through unprecedented times. Things are changing hour by hour. Just how can any effective business continuity planning take place in this current situation?
We think there are a few golden threads, which can help law firms to plan and start to put some element of structure around the most unstructured and fluid times in a generation.
Clients will be worried
All clients, whatever their matter, will be anxious and uncertain. This will inevitably impact their legal matter.
Communication and clarity will be key. Regular updates on their case and also what is happening in your firm are essential. For example, are you moving to home working? If so, how will they get in touch with their Fee Earner?
Some firms have already written to all their current client base advising on what the firm is doing now. If you haven’t yet, we would advise you do this immediately.
It will also be worth reaching out to all clients over the coming days to take updated instructions. For instance, in all likelihood, conveyancing completions will all but dry up over the coming two weeks, particularly if any kind of lockdown comes to pass. A ban on movement is unlikely to have an exception for removal lorries.
Are your clients aware of this, and what do they want to do? Move now, or delay?
Staff will need looking after
Your immediate concern will no doubt be around what are you doing to protect your staff.
Is the office still open? Are some or all of your staff moving to home working? When will this happen, and how will this impact on your current risk and compliance procedures? These are all questions which will need to be addressed over the coming days.
On top of that, how will client interactions be managed? A ban on face-to-face meetings for the majority of cases seems to be the way most firms are proceeding at the moment, but of course there will always be exceptions and it’s worth considering how these are handled.
In due course, how to manage staff sickness cover will inevitably come to pass and having a practical plan in place now is a good idea.
Caseloads will alter
It is likely that some departments will be getting busier over the coming weeks. Personal injury, for instance, may see an increase in clients chasing down a settlement if they become squeezed financially.
Similarly, without wishing to over-dramatise, wills and probate departments are also likely to see increased pressures. Conversely, conveyancing cases may well dry up completely for a period of time.
Can staff be reallocated across the business to take account of these differing requirements? Also, will the differing profile of cases impact on cash flow? What steps can be taken to mitigate the impact of this?
These are just a few thoughts around the complex web of business continuity we all find ourselves in the middle of but we think they are a good starter for ten.
Teal Compliance has created a suite of resources for law firms to help you navigate the current landscape. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your free Covid-19 Action Pack, including template and more detailed advice on some of the themes mentioned above.