Executive Summary

  • Across different practice sizes, smaller firms have been hit hardest by the implementation of the lockdown.
  • Across practice areas, conveyancing has felt the effects most. Wills and Probate has fared the best.
  • Firms have largely made use of the furlough scheme with 60% of firms furloughing staff.
  • 15% of firms have had to make redundancies.
  • Many practice areas are set for a big boost as the lockdown is eased.
  • There will be a more competitive job market as staff that have been made redundant fight for jobs.
  • Many firms will continue remote working when the lockdown has ended.
  • To recover following the lockdown, firms need to first focus on survival, then business continuity should we hit a second peak and then on growth.

Introduction

It goes without saying that the COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing lockdown has had a profound impact on the legal industry as it has on all businesses across the world, let alone in the UK. But who has been affected the most, and how? We decided to find out.

On 30th April 2020, we launched an online survey – ‘Impact of COVID-19 on the legal profession’. Over the course of three weeks, we attracted 125 responses from across the globe. Once we removed those from abroad and not in the legal industry, we had exactly 100 responses from UK firms.

The respondents came from practices across the country and from different sized firms enabling us to see a picture of the legal market during the lockdown. These respondents were asked 12 questions.

Question 1 - How many employees does your firm have?

This is simply a qualifying question enabling us to break the data and responses down by the number of employees in each respondent firm. This lets us see how COVID-19 and the lockdown has affected firms of different sizes.

Question 2 - Have you had to make use of the furlough scheme?

When the lockdown was implemented, the government introduced the furlough scheme, which allowed employers to put employees on temporary leave, with the Government paying 80% of the employees’ wages. This question sought to find out how many firms had made use of this scheme.

Question 3 – How many staff have been furloughed?

Those who answered yes to question 2 were then asked the follow up of how many staff had been furloughed.

Question 4 – Are your staff currently working from home?

When the lockdown was implemented, the Government suggested that anyone who could work from home should do so. This question was to find out how many UK firms were able to work from home.

Question 5 – What software are they using to work from home?

This question was to see what software those firms who are working from home are using.

Question 6 – Have you had to make any staff redundant?

Many companies across the UK have struggled to survive the lockdown period. While many have made use of the furlough scheme, others will, unfortunately, have had to make redundancies. Here we seek to find out how many firms have had to make redundancies.

Question 7 – How many staff have been made redundant?

Those who stated that staff had been made redundant, were then asked how many staff were made redundant.

Question 8 – Which areas of your business have been affected?

Here, we sought to find out if any practice areas were disproportionately affected as compared to others. The practice areas presented in the question were – Company & Commercial, Conveyancing, Crime, Employment, Family, Immigration, Personal Injury and Wills & Probate.

For each practice area, the respondent was asked how business levels had been affected, i.e. were they seeing significantly less business (more than 25% less), a little less business (up to 25% less), no change, a little more business (up to 25% more), or significantly more business (more than 25% more). Each of these responses was given a score of 1-5 respectively, which allowed us to find a weighted average and see which practice areas had been affected most.

Question 9 – Are you looking at moving into different practice areas in the wake of COVID-19?

Although COVID-19 and the lockdown has had a negative impact on many firms, we wanted to see if any opportunities would arise from the chaos. Here, respondents were given the same practice areas as in question 8, along with options for none and other.

Question 10 – Do you think your business will change forever after COVID-19?

Here we sought to discover how many firms expect even more change once the pandemic has died down and the lockdown ended.

Question 11 – How?

Those who answered yes to question 10 were then asked how they think their business will change. This was an open-ended question allowing respondents to give whatever answer they liked.

Question 12 – How do you feel about the future of the legal market?

With our final question, we wanted to find out the general feeling around the legal industry about how things will go in the future. Respondents were given three choices: Optimistic, Neutral and Pessimistic.

Conveyancing Firms Hit Hardest

Common sense might tell you that being in the middle of a pandemic, being restricted to your own home and most businesses being closed would result in a big drop in levels of business for the legal industry. After all, as of 21st May 2020, 16% of the courts and tribunals in England and Wales have been suspended to protect those involved in trials[1]. The Government also advised that anybody moving to a new house delay until after lockdown measures have been lifted[2], and social distancing measures have made the witnessing requirements for wills difficult to comply with[3].

The results of our survey, therefore, may surprise you.

Law firms in general see only minor effects

We asked 100 people how various practice areas had been impacted in their practice. They were given the options for Company & Commercial, Conveyancing, Crime, Employment, Family, Immigration, Personal Injury and Wills & Probate.

For each practice area, respondents were able to select from 5 options (Table 2.1). These are numbered, which means we can then find a weighted average.

Table 2.1
Table 2.1

The overall average response across all 100 respondents was 2.66, which shows only a slight reduction in business across the board. This is a positive sign as it shows that law firms have largely seen only a minor impact on business levels.

However, 60% of our respondents have also made use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme). This 60% figure is even skewed downwards by the 1 – 10 category of firms, where only 36% of firms have put employees on furlough. Discounting this group, 66% of firms with 11+ employees made use of the furlough scheme.

This conflicts with the idea that law firms have been largely unaffected. To get to the bottom of this, we have to look a little deeper into the figures.

We can see from the results that smaller firms have seen the biggest reduction in business, with an average of 1.99 across all practice areas, which still, would only represent a little less business.

Figure 2.1
Figure 2.1

This perhaps shows the benefit of having a strong brand when a crisis hits as bigger firms, who are more likely to have a stronger brand and more marketing power, have fared the best and been affected least.

Conveyancing has taken the biggest hit

When we look at how the different practice areas have been affected by the lockdown, we can see that conveyancing has been hit hardest.

Figure 2.2

Conveyancing has an average score of just 1.68, which would represent a significant reduction in business, especially compared to other practice areas. This is understandable as the conveyancing industry essentially came to a halt as home movers delayed their plans following government advice. Social distancing measures meant that viewing homes, attending solicitors’ offices for meetings and to sign documents became almost impossible.

The second hardest hit sector was Company and Commercial. Again, this is understandable as more companies essentially pause their business, there would be a significant reduction in their legal requirements.

Crime is the only other sector to fall below the average of 2.66, with a score of 2.53. As already discussed, as courts have been suspended to aide with the safeguarding of juries, judiciary, counsel, defendants and court staff, court cases have been reduced to a minimum, with only those being classed as essential taking place.

Wills and probate appear to be faring best, with a score of 3.05, which would show that there has been no change to business levels despite the difficulty in creating a will in the circumstances. This is likely due to the nature of the media during the pandemic, with a daily death toll being on every TV screen, people are naturally worried, and their thoughts turn to what would happen should they fall victims to COVID-19.

Personal Injury, Immigration, Family and Employment show a negligible decrease in business levels, to the point where you can say there has been little if any change in business levels.

But what impact does this have on the number of staff being furloughed?

The answer is in fact, none.

Why are law firms using the furlough scheme?

Figure 2.3

You’ll see from the above scatter graph (Figure 2.3) that there is absolutely no correlation between the performance of a certain practice area and whether they have made use of the furlough scheme.

Use of the furlough scheme is consistent across practice areas, with only a small variance between firms practising immigration (63%) and firms practising wills and probate (74%). Coincidentally, the two practice areas where firms have made use of the furlough scheme most are the bottom performing (conveyancing) and top-performing (wills & probate), proving the lack of correlation between the two.

This may be due to firms operating across multiple practice areas and having to furlough staff in other areas, but generally speaking, most firms have made use of the furlough scheme, regardless of the performance of a particular practice area.

So why are firms making use of the furlough scheme if not because of changes in levels of business?

One possibility is that social distancing measures make it impossible for employees to work effectively, so firms are forced to put them on furlough. However, this doesn’t take into account that given modern technology, firms are now able to work from home. In fact, 90% of those firms that made use of the furlough scheme, also have staff working from home.

So why do firms have some staff working from home and others on furlough?

Table 2.2

Table 2.2 shows that, on average, firms have furloughed somewhere around half of their staff, which means they are likely to have the other half working from home. With so many staff working from home, social distancing seems less of a likely reason for use of the furlough scheme.

Another possible reason could be that as firms move towards working from home, there are fewer admin tasks to be completed. Therefore, those staff that would normally be responsible for those tasks in the office aren’t required during the lockdown.

Another reason, and one which is most likely, is that staff have contracted the COVID-19 virus or are self-isolating due to being in contact with someone who has been infected or is at risk and is unable to work and so has been placed on furlough.

Law firms choose Furlough over Redundancies

As the lockdown hit, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak announced the creation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (we’ll call it the furlough scheme). The scheme allowed companies to temporarily lay off staff, with the government picking up the burden to pay 80% of the employee’s wage up to a limit of £2,500. The scheme was later extended to October 2020[4].

The scheme allows firms to reduce their outlay on wages, as revenues fall under the lockdown, while employees still receive a wage and maintain job security. This means that as the lockdown is eased firms aren’t suddenly under pressure to hire new staff and can just bring those furloughed staff back in as needed.

This is understandably an attractive option to many firms, indeed more so than making employees redundant.

In our survey, 60% of respondents said that their firm has had to make use of the furlough scheme. This is below the national average of 70% of private companies that have furloughed members of staff[5].

This shows that law firms are generally doing better than other industries, though some have been affected particularly heavily. For example, the hospitality industry is essentially lying dormant as social distancing measures mean that it is impossible for them to open and allow guests to frequent hotels, pubs or restaurants.

Smaller firms make use of furlough scheme most

Table 3.1
Table 3.1

With the exception of the 1-10 category of firms, smaller firms have made the most use of the furlough scheme. Figure 3.1 shows the downward trend between the percentage of firms using the furlough scheme and the size of that firm.

Figure 3.1
Figure 3.1

The reason for such a low number of firms making use of the furlough scheme in the 1 – 10 category is that they may not be eligible for the scheme.

In order to be able to use the scheme, firms must have[6]:

  • created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020
  • enrolled for PAYE online
  • a UK bank account

Firms in the 1-10 category may be self-employed and therefore not have a PAYE payroll scheme set up and so would not be eligible. Firms in other categories are more likely to have a payroll scheme setup and are therefore eligible for the furlough scheme.

Redundancies few and far between

The survey results show that redundancies have been scarce, with only 15% of firms having to lay staff off. This remains consistent even amongst those who have also made use of the furlough scheme. Of the 60% of firms that made use of the scheme, 15% also made redundancies.

There doesn’t appear to be any correlation between redundancies and the size of the firm or practice area as can be seen from Figure 3.2 and Figure 3.3.

Figure 3.2
Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 shows that the size of the firm bears no relation to whether they have had to make redundancies. Results appear to be sporadic with no obvious trend. For example, a similar level of firms in the 1 – 10 and 300+ categories have made redundancies, while none in the 11 – 25, 101 – 200 and 201 – 300 categories have made redundancies.

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 shows that there is no correlation between practice areas and whether firms have had to make redundancies. There is about 4% difference between crime firms which have the lowest level of redundancies and Personal Injury, which has the highest.

You can see from the way all data is grouped together in that small area, they have all been affected similarly in terms of redundancies.

Hope for Post-Lockdown

So, what can we take from these figures?

First, there is hope that once lockdown is over, firms can resume operations as quickly as possible. They’ll be able to bring furloughed staff back and enjoy a full workforce straight away.

Second, for those firms looking to replenish or even grow their staff numbers, they can benefit from a more competitive jobs market as those employees made redundant by 15% of firms, will now be looking for work, so firms should work quickly to get the best talent at their firm and ensure they don’t miss out.

We’ll delve into this a bit deeper in the next chapter.

Back With a Bang?

With the end of the lockdown starting to come into view, it is sensible to wonder how the legal landscape will look as this post-lockdown world comes into focus. Will business levels return to normal? Will firms carry on as they did before? What opportunities will be presented?

Changing Practice Areas

We’ve already seen in Figure 2.2 how business levels have been affected in different practice areas.

But how will this look post lockdown? We can see from Figure 4.2 that very few of the 100 firms surveyed will be moving to new practice areas. The most popular practice area is Company & Commercial with 9% of firms looking to move into this area. But why is this?

Figure 2.2
Figure 2.2
Figure 4.1
Figure 4.1

There is potential in a number of practice areas following the lockdown. But first off, let’s discuss the Company & Commercial sector as that one appears to be the most popular with our respondents. Why this area in particular?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, warned that the lockdown would lead to the UK entering a ‘significant recession’ as early as March 2020, with some analysts claiming that the UK is already in the middle of a recession at the time of writing in May 2020[7]. This will be confirmed in August, but though a recession is bad news for many, it can also represent an opportunity for others.

In the recession of 2008, nearly 27,000 companies became insolvent[8]. As a company becomes insolvent and goes into administration, they will require an administrator, or they may be subject to a takeover or a merger. These require specialist legal services and should the recession hit as hard as it did 12 years ago, many firms will be needed for this work.

This may also lead to an increase in employment work as more firms make redundancies and require solicitors to ensure they do so legally. As more companies introduce new ways of working, they may also require changes to employment contracts and new measures put in place, requiring the advice of an employment solicitor.

Now let’s look at conveyancing. We’ve already established that this has been the worst affected area during the lockdown as moving to a new house became near enough impossible. But will this change once the lockdown is over? Early indicators show that the answer is yes. Conveyancers should prepare themselves for a surge in business as the lockdown ends[9].

This is likely to be affected by changes in two other practice areas. As families spend more time together, divorce rates will start to rise[10], as, unfortunately, will the level of domestic violence[11]. Though unfortunate for those involved, this brings a welcome boost to the legal industry. Those in family departments will see an increase in business, but as couples get divorced, any property that they own may have to be sold as part of the settlement, and the couple will look for new homes bringing more business to the conveyancing sector.

Another area that could benefit the conveyancing sector is the boost in wills and probate work. We’ve already seen that wills and probate departments have fared the best during the lockdown as more people look into getting wills. But by the end of May, COVID-19 had claimed more than 37,000 lives in the UK. This unfortunate loss of life means that there will be more cases that need to go through the probate process. As estates are distributed, assets, including homes, may need to be sold, again introducing more business to conveyancing departments.

Criminal law is another area of law that will require the services of a vast number of solicitors. Recent figures have shown that the lockdown could lead to a backlog of over 40,000 court cases in UK courts. Changes to the way cases are held, could lead to even more appeals further down the line, meaning there could be a surge in business for criminal firms.

More Competition for jobs

As we’ve touched on in the previous chapter, there will also be a more competitive jobs market. Staff that have been made redundant will all be fighting for jobs and if fears over furloughed staff being made redundant come to fruition, the market will become even more fierce.

Those practice areas experiencing a rise in business following the lockdown may need to hire more staff to cope with the increased number of cases being dealt with. Indeed, the outlook amongst those surveyed would suggest that things are looking up.

We asked how the respondents to our survey felt about the future of the legal industry. 40% of our respondents answered that they were optimistic about the future. 46% were neutral, while only 14% were pessimistic about how things would go.

This would suggest that those optimistic about the future will be looking at growth, which should mean more job opportunities for those who have unfortunately become unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

As we move forward following the pandemic, however, we may experience new ways of working. Social distancing may become a necessity for a while until cases of COVID-19 are reduced to zero, even as people return to work. This won’t be possible if everybody returns to the office.

This is why many firms are turning to remote working.

Remote Working is the Future

We asked firms if they thought their business would change forever once the lockdown has ended. A massive 77% of those who answered the question said yes. Of those who said that their business would change, 56% said that there would be more remote working and working from home. A further 10% suggested that there would be better use of technology to improve efficiency and productivity, in particular with regard to virtual meetings.

Smaller firms have reduced access to remote working

This seems to be spurred by the fact that firms have managed to operate with staff working from home successfully during the lockdown. In fact, 95% of respondents said that they had staff working from home. Though there does appear to be a slight disparity between bigger and smaller firms with regards to whether they are working from home, the number of firms with staff working from home is high across the board.

Figure 5.1
Figure 5.1

You can see in Figure 5.1 that there is a correlation between the size of firm and whether they have staff working from home. From 1 – 50 users there is a steady increase in the number of firms with staff working from home until you get to 51+ whom all have staff working from home.

This may be because those smaller firms don’t have access to cloud-based technology or could be that they have stopped their business altogether during the lockdown. 100% of those who said they don’t have staff working from home have had to make use of the furlough scheme, with two of these also having made redundancies which suggests that their firms have been paused for the time being.

The Rise of Cloud Computing = The Rise of Remote Working

Whichever way you look at it, remote working appears to be on the rise with our findings being backed up elsewhere across different Industries. Ernst & Young recently discussed why remote working will become the new normal[12], The HR Director showed that 60% of workers will carry on working from home after the lockdown[13] and a Deloitte survey revealed that 77% of finance workers in London expect to work from home at least one day per week following the lockdown[14].

This rise in remote working is only possible due to the recent rise in cloud computing. For the uninitiated, cloud computing means you can store your data off-site in a secure datacentre, that you access through the internet.

Global IT cloud services revenues are predicted to break the $200 billion mark this year, which shows just how big the market has grown. When you consider that revenues were at $100 billion just four years ago, you can see how cloud computing has grown in recent times.

Figure 5.2
Figure 5.2

You can see from Figure 5.2[15] that the market has been growing consistently year on year, with an average yearly growth of $19 billion. But what is the reason for this growth and how does it relate to the rise in remote working?

Why Cloud?

First, let’s look at the alternative to the cloud – having your servers on-premise. This is where all of your data is stored on servers in your business premises. The benefit of having all your data stored this way is that your Total Cost of Ownership can be lower as you only pay for user licences once, you have complete control over your data and software and you don’t need to rely on internet connectivity to access your software. And that’s where the benefits end.

When you have your own servers, you’ll usually have to shell out a large sum upfront and it can then take longer to install software for all of your users as you’ll have to do this manually on each computer. You’ll also be responsible for all maintaining the servers to ensure they are kept up to date and that you have the latest software installed. With an on-premise solution, you are also limited in how much you can grow before you need to pay for a new server. On top of that, you’re also completely responsible for all of your data as data controller and processor, meaning you need to ensure you have the expertise to ensure you maintain data security standards.

Now with cloud computing, you get access to your systems anytime and anywhere. You just need to log in via your web browser. The costs involved are also a lot easier to handle. Rather than forking out a large sum on new servers, you pay a simple monthly fee. This means you know how much you’re going to be paying each month and won’t have any surprise payments as servers require maintenance and upgrades, so you can budget more effectively.

Cloud solutions are also scalable, meaning your growth is unlimited as you can add and remove users as you please, without having to worry about the capabilities of your server.

Another benefit is business continuity. Should something happen to your offices, such as a fire or flood, you wouldn’t have to worry about losing your data or if your business would be able to continue[16]. All your data is stored safely in the cloud, meaning you can just log in from another computer and access all of your data. The same can’t be said for an on-premise solution.

With most cloud providers, you’ll also benefit from enhanced security. Public Cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS), will have high levels of security in place and multiple teams of engineers ensuring your datacentre is running at all times. You’ll also be able to rely on the data security expertise of your cloud provider. For example, DPS Software is ISO27001:2013 accredited at company level. ISO27001 accreditation is an international standard for information security management[17]. To achieve the accreditation, companies have to have appropriate procedures in place and ensure they are carried out, reporting on any breaches. This way they ensure good data security, so you know that your data is safe.

Given all of these benefits, you can see why the cloud has become so popular over the past 10 years, having grown by nearly 1500% in this time[18]. As a law firm hosted in the cloud, you have the benefits of scalability, security, certainty and the ability to work remotely.

A Better Solution

Now, most Case Management Software providers in the legal sector have provided cloud-based software over the past few years, DPS included, but these usually require you to download the software to your machine, with your data then coming from the cloud through an internet connection. This works well in most cases and has enabled thousands of law firms to make the switch to remote working relatively easy when the lockdown was announced. But what if one of your staff’s laptop was to break? Or they simply get another computer? Or what if they have a Mac? How do they get that all set up again?

Tech Support will usually have to get involved, setting up a remote connection to get everything set up again, which can take up valuable billable time. Now, wouldn’t it be easier if you could just open your web browser and log in to your Practice Management System and have everything available in the browser? You wouldn’t need to worry about installing anything. You wouldn’t need to call anyone or wait to get it set up. You’d just log in straight away from any device.

This isn’t new technology. You’ll see web-based systems in various industries. If you use a CRM system, it’ll more than likely be web-browser-based. As will a lot of accounting systems. However, the legal sector has been a bit slower to follow this trend.

Except for DPS that it. DPS Spitfire is a full Practice Management System, available 100% in your browser. So why is this better than a normal cloud connection?

First off, you aren’t reliant on your hardware, so it is perfect for business continuity planning. If anything happens to your computers or other devices, simply log in from another device. The only delay is how long it takes to get hold of another device.

As with cloud computing, you’re able to work from anywhere, but having a web-based system means that hiring staff from anywhere becomes easier as well. The move to remote working means you aren’t restricted to hiring staff in the local area and instead have access to a national talent pool. If you do hire someone from the other side of the country, all they need to do is head to your Spitfire page and log in. You could have a completely virtual firm if you wanted as office premises would no longer be essential.

Most cloud connections will also require you to log in via Citrix[19]. This can cause issues with other systems that require a lot of bandwidth. For example, using Microsoft Teams or Zoom to have an online meeting becomes difficult and more likely to crash. However, with Spitfire, you don’t need a Citrix connection, so your Microsoft Teams meeting will run perfectly (depending on your home internet speeds, of course).

Being web-based also makes Spitfire easier to integrate with other third-party software. Any other software you use can be integrated making you more efficient as you won’t have to waste time on double-entry of information or using multiple systems. In fact, the entire Spitfire ecosystem means you can connect all of your services to work within Spitfire.

You can have enquiries come straight through to Spitfire, where you can send quotes for services and once made a client, you can perform ID and credit checks from a number of point solutions, without leaving Spitfire. You can perform conveyancing searches from Spitfire, with all documents pulled back into the file history and bills automatically sent to accounts. And once the case is finished, you can automatically get your client to review your services on Review Solicitors.

Your firm will run smoothly and efficiently, with all of your different software systems working in perfect harmony.

Working from home will become as easy as opening your laptop. To see how your firm could benefit from a web-browser-based system, call DPS Software on 020 8804 1022.

The Road Ahead

There’s no denying that the UK legal sector has taken a big hit from COVID-19.

Small firms and the conveyancing sector, in particular, have been affected. Business levels have reduced significantly for both and amongst other practice areas. Staff have also been out of work, with many furloughed and others unfortunately made redundant.

This paints a bleak picture of post-lockdown life for law firms, but there is much reason for hope.

Many practice areas and firms of a certain size have felt relatively minor effects from the lockdown. As such, these firms will find the road to recovery a lot smoother as the lockdown is eased.

It also appears likely that many practice areas will see a sharp uptick in business levels as the industry awakens from the lockdown and more people look for houses, commit crimes, suffer accidents and look to get divorced.

The Way Forward

Recovering from the impact of COVID-19 won’t be easy and the path to recovery will be different for each firm, depending on how far they have been setback by the virus. But there are a number of things that each firm can do to recover and protect their business against future disruption.

Keep Going

The first thing firms need to do is to focus on survival. Ensure that they can meet all of their liabilities and keep working to bring more money into the business. Small firms can take advantage of the Government’s Bounce Back Loan Scheme[20], whereby firms impacted by the coronavirus can receive a loan between £2,000 and £50,000, with nothing to pay for the first 12 months, giving firms the chance to get back on their feet following the pandemic.

Ensure Business Continuity

With the lockdown being eased, there is a great deal of uncertainty around how life will change and whether we will experience a second peak of the virus and therefore a second lockdown. With this in mind, you will need to mitigate against these risks.

The best way to do this is by choosing a cloud-hosted system. This ensures that should there be a second lockdown, you don’t have to put your staff at risk by getting them to come into the office, or put them on furlough or worse, as they can just carry on working from home.

Grow

Our survey has shown that bigger firms have coped best throughout the pandemic. This is because they will more than likely practice across several different areas of law, mitigating the risk to individual practice areas. But they will also likely have a stronger brand, which helps to bring in more customers even during a crisis.

It should, therefore, be a priority for firms to grow in terms of the company’s brand, business generated, and the number of employees. Each of these will impact the next, helping the firm to grow overall and give them a surer footing should another crisis hit.

So how do firms grow? The key to growth is market penetration[21], i.e. bringing in more customers. And the way to bring in more customers is through marketing. Ensure you put together an effective Marketing Strategy for the year ahead. Have a clear idea of what you want to achieve and figure out how you will do it. You might want to take advantage of digital channels, focussing on Search Engine Optimisation and Google Ads, or you may want to advertise more. Whichever you choose will depend on the needs of the business and budget. The best way to grow is to market yourself through as many different channels as possible[22], but this will not be possible for all firms.

Smaller firms who need to get clients in as quickly as possible should initially focus on digital channels, capturing potential clients through search engines. Bigger firms, with bigger budgets, should also focus on more long-term targets and brand-building through advertising in relevant publications or even on TV and radio if budgets permit.

Having an effective marketing strategy should help to grow both your brand and client base and with all the extra business you’ll be receiving, you’ll also need more staff. As we’ve discussed in previous chapters, there will be a competitive jobs market as many law firm staff will have been made redundant and are looking for work.

If you have gone hosted and allow your staff to work remotely, that also frees you up to hire people from further afield meaning you get access to the best talent available.

This can help you to diversify your business, further protecting your firm against the risks to individual practice areas. For example, when the lockdown hit and conveyancing work completely dried up, you would have had other practice areas to help bring money in and keep the firm afloat.

Following these steps as the lockdown eases should help your firm to recover following the lockdown and protect it against the risk of a second lockdown.

How have you coped during the lockdown? Have your experiences been similar to what we’ve found in our survey? Let us know by emailing marketing@dpssoftware.co.uk

References

[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/courts-and-tribunals-tracker-list-during-coronavirus-outbreak

[2] https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/advice/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-and-residential-conveyancing-transactions/

[3] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52215141

[4] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/21/uk-unemployment-coronavirus-ons-figures-jobs

[6] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

[7] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52641807

[8] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/record-number-of-companies-go-bust-1848117.html

[9] https://www.todaysconveyancer.co.uk/main-news/post-lockdown-property-market-bouncing-back/

[10] You usually see this following the Christmas break - https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/lawyers-prepare-for-divorce-day-as-christmas-holidays-take-their-toll-9955646.html

[11] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52433520

[12] https://www.ey.com/en_be/covid-19/why-remote-working-will-be-the-new-normal-even-after-covid-19

[13] https://www.thehrdirector.com/business-news/future-of-work/uk-workers-say-they-will-continue-to-work-from-home-after-lockdown-is-eased-and-majority-are-happy-to-wait-another-month-before-returning-to-the-office/

[14] https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/press-releases/articles/home-sweet-home-almost-three-quarters-of-workers-in-financial-services-rate-their-working-from-home-experience-as-positive.html

[15] https://www.statista.com/statistics/510350/worldwide-public-cloud-computing/

[16] https://www.ibm.com/uk-en/cloud/learn/benefits-of-cloud-computing

[17] https://www.iso.org/isoiec-27001-information-security.html

[18] Data from https://www.statista.com/statistics/510350/worldwide-public-cloud-computing/

[19] https://www.citrix.com/products/

[20] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan

[21] See How Brand Grow by Byron Sharp - http://marketinglawsofgrowth.com/

[22] https://www.marketingweek.com/ritson-marketing-effectiveness-lessons/

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