Curses, like chickens, come home to roost.” – Susanna Moodie, Life in Canada, 1852

Like many of you, I have watched our world and my world change and plunge into chaos. I set a goal this year to write one blog post per week. Coronavirus blew a big hole in that goal.

Not because I have it, at least not yet. But because, like many of you, I have been all too consumed with worry, fear, and planning. Worry I’ll get it. Fear it will be debilitating. Fear I will not survive. Planning how to wash my hands and disinfect surfaces and in what order.

But beyond that, I frankly have had trouble coming up with anything that seemed important or relevant to say given the crisis we are in. This blog has always been about technology and innovation, yet everyone is writing about how to work remotely. What tech to use. How to virtually manage a law firm. And even why and how to market at a time of crisis.

A post on what the latest EW survey shows (which I was working on when the shit hit the fan) is not of much consequence given the circumstances

I’m not sure I have much to add. I’m not even sure how important these things are right now. A post on what the latest EW survey shows (which I was working on when the shit hit the fan) is not of much consequence given the circumstances. So, I’ve been quiet.

But a recent Tweet by my good friend Cat Moon and an article by Phillip Bantz in Law.Com’s Corporate Counsel talking about that comment sort of hit home with me and helped me see an important point. (Cat always tells it like it is).

Enough with the law firm webinars and emails to clients on how to deal with the coronavirus crisis. They AREN’T INTERESTED.

Cat tweeted something to the effect: enough with the law firm webinars and emails to clients (or potential clients) on how to deal with the coronavirus crisis. They AREN’T INTERESTED.

Her tweet got lots of comments, particularly from in house lawyers. Most of them agreed: most of what was being offered was of little real value, nor did it address their needs.

Too many law firms fail to see what’s really happening in a rush to turn this into “business development.”

The tweet made me think about the problem for law firms this crisis is revealing. One problem: too many law firms fail to see what’s really happening in a rush to turn this into “business development.” To manipulate the crisis into something for which they have something to offer. To try to substitute good judgment and real innovative problem solving for mere marketing fluff. I got news for you: it won’t work.

For those of you who remember the W2K crisis (or lack thereof), permit me an anecdote. One of my partners and I decided this was an excellent opportunity to get business. Even though we knew nothing about the issues or what was involved, we made a pitch to a client, and when we finished, patted ourselves on the back. The client said that’s great. But it’s no different than what the other 25 law firms have told me. It doesn’t help me.

The problem was we weren’t thinking about the problem and how to help the client. We were thinking about getting business. Had we swallowed our greed and pride and told the client-not to worry, we don’t think this will be a problem for you how different things might have been.

The corona crisis is not business as usual. It’s not just another issue for which law firms can trumpet the formation of a “coronavirus crisis response team,” as many have done. This is not a crisis many firms have much, if any, experience with or expertise for.

Frankly, the steps to best help your clients through this situation should have been taken years ago. What do clients need now? Get my work done. Competently represent me. Do the work I need to you to do with the least disruption and friction. In house counsel are under enough pressure right now. They don’t need to waste time on lawyers who can’t seem to figure out how to use things like Zoom.

Too many lawyers and law firms are just now beginning to understand the price of not being technologically proficient as they rush to set up remote work arrangements of their lawyers.

Too many lawyers and law firms are just now beginning to understand the price of not being technologically proficient as they rush to set up remote work arrangements of their lawyers. They are trying to figure out on the fly how to adequately and competently represent their clients with their legal problems. But at the same time, they are trying to understand how to work remotely and with teams of people. How to use readily available technology. (It’s actually a little humorous to see these firms telling clients how to work remotely. Clients who have been working remotely and using technology for years. They know a thing or two about it.)

The winners now are the firms who can pick up and work remotely and do what their clients need without missing a beat. The firms that understand how to get things done when travel is not an option. Who know how to seamlessly and remotely deal with person to person communications, court conferences, depositions, and hearings. Who are comfortable with what technology offers and who don’t have to figure what to do.

Want to help your clients now? Do the work they need to have done. Use technology competently: hopefully you understood years ago the value of technology in representing your clients. If not, you are a little behind. Offering some sophomoric webinar or email won’t catch you up or be of value, which was precisely Cat Moon’s point.

Oh, and by the way. Guess who is circling. Think the Big Four is having trouble working remotely? ??? Think again.

Photo by William Moreland on Unsplash