Welcome back — and I really mean that. Some of us are busier than usual, and with tasks that are not always related to work or business. That’s absolutely fine! Perhaps better than most, lawyers — especially solo lawyers — know how to be productive. We don’t need tips on productivity or suggestions of activities to fill the day. 

There’s a pandemic. That’s enough to distract you, and that’s only right. You have family and friends; you have children. You have neighbors. A pandemic affects our daily lives, and a phenomenon like COVIDd-19 is unprecedented in our lifetime so it’s natural to be distracted and frustrated.

In this series of blogs, I talk about how to get through this crisis despite the distraction and frustration. In the previous blog, we talked about just that: making the decision to channel your focus into your clients and your business. 

That leads us to this blog’s first piece of advice: 

Tell everyone you are open

Tell everyone that you are open. This is key. 

You want to keep repeating this. Tell everyone, “We are open for business.” Dedicate several posts every week to this announcement. This is extremely important because if people don’t know for certain that you are open, they won’t come to you. 

At this time with so many offices and industries having to shut down, people will assume you’re closed for business. People won’t know that you’re open just because you’re still posting on Facebook. 

Explicitly communicate on Facebook, other social media, through email — everywhere you can — that you’re open. Whether your office doors are physically open or you’re conducting business online, tell everyone you can still serve them. 

Get out there and make this announcement. It sounds so basic and simple. I can already imagine you saying, “Oh God, Ally, this is ridiculous. I think I can skip this step. Obviously, everyone knows we’re open.” 

No, they don’t. Get out there and let them know.  

Email your contact list every week

In my previous blog post, I told you about working harder than usual. Increasing your email frequency is a part of it. I know many of us don’t frequently email our contact list. I have a compiled list of my immigration clients, but I wasn’t really emailing them very often. I always wanted to, but I never really got into the flow. 

Now’s the time to get into your contact list’s inbox. Right when this happened, the first thing I did was go to my contact list and send out an email saying, “We’re open for business. Give us a call. We are here for you. We’re here to help you — whatever you need.”

As I said above, that’s very, very important. I also email them weekly just to check in. 

You can email something creative and relevant. For example, if you’re a family law attorney you can send a “Survival Guide for Dads.” Fathers will need ideas right now for activities they can do with their kids at home. All the dads who see this email will open it and remember you. They might even forward this email to their fellow parents. 

Think of your ideal clients and what they need right now. You can say something along the lines of, “Hey, how are you? You need your social security number now more than ever. We’re here for you. What can we do for you?” 

Set up your chatbot

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it really is. A chatbot is a tool for giving out information. My own chatbot is set up so that anyone who messages me on Facebook gets a thank you and information about my office hours, my address, or my consultation fee. The person messaging can choose which of those pieces of information they want to know. 

By the time they actually call me they’re already a qualified lead. They want to get started. They mean business.

Your chatbot, like mine, can also talk about your case types or why you should have a consultation and the benefits of having one. 

This is a biggie. A chatbot is a great tool for pushing people to your law firm, by giving out information the moment someone reaches out to you. The more you go Live on Facebook, the more you post, people will write to you or browse your page. You want to start turning those lookers into buyers. You want to push them into buying. 

So set up your chatbot! 

Check my previous blogs and podcasts for my guides on chatbots. Go to ManyChat and set up your autoresponder, which can help guide people into scheduling a consultation with you. 

Jean Ginzburg is my marketing director. She set up my ManyChat account for me. If, like me, you find ManyChat hard to “get,” Jean can set it up for you. Shoot me an email so I can connect you with Jean. 

Give it a try. It feels overwhelming at first, but we have to do these things. We have to think outside the box. Don’t be scared, just get help if you need it.

That leads me to my next point. 

Arm your virtual fleet with talent

I’ve talked about my cruise experience before, and that I decided I wanted to run my law firm like a ship. It’s cliche but there’s a reason it’s used so often!  

A ship’s crew is organized and extremely efficient. They show up excited and really eager to do a great job. That’s what I want for my firm, and for my clients. 

I was able to do this by finding international workers on Upwork. It’s amazing. I have seven full-time virtual employees, and they perform a myriad of duties. I have interviewers who interview clients over the phone. I have one person handling all the mail, a very tedious, 40 hour/week job. I have someone who handles document filing and organizing. 

We also have a virtual fleet of people who write declarations, using the interviewers’ notes to write the declarations for my review. 

We have a lot of people working behind the scenes and this is more important now than ever. With the COVID-19 crisis, many of us are now working virtually, though many of us never thought we could. 

So many lawyers think this can’t be done, but a lot of your office processes can actually be performed virtually.  

You’ve probably already taken your team virtual, or have other virtual hires. If you have, I want you to challenge yourself to think about how you can remain virtual in the future. Additionally, think about how you can leverage international workers to help support you and your team. 

Workers in other countries have a lot of education and experience. What they don’t have are opportunities. You can provide them that opportunity to earn a good wage. In return, you get top talent at a lower price than you would have here in the U.S., where you may pay top dollar for mediocrity. 

For example, Washington state where I am based, is a high minimum wage state. From my experience, applicants are unqualified. Many have tons of expectations but they don’t have any experience or credentials. They want an expert-level salary when their entire job description is to answer the phones.  

Sometimes my virtual assistant Amy and I get so frustrated with the in-office team that she says she wants to have a scoreboard, virtual team vs in-office team. She would have the teams compete with each other to see who would win, with points assigned for efficiency. 

I can tell you the virtual team would win most of the time. I have a great virtual team. 

I have an enormous team because I still have to perform operations in-office. It’s probably the same for you. Now I want you to think creatively about how you can really use an international team. 

It’s not about international employees being cheaper. That’s not the reason. If you start thinking, “Is it just about saving a dollar? Why can’t I continue hiring people from the U.S.?” You’re doing yourself and your firm a disservice because you’re discounting a source of incredible talent you could be utilizing. 

Everyone who can work deserves work. 

Read the book, Give Work by Leila Janah. It may change your perspective on so many things. Another great resource on virtual workers is The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. 

You can also check out Upwork.com to get an idea of the top talent you can hire for your firm.