The phrases “contingency plan” or “business continuity” are lingo for saying that it’s important for you to prepare for unforeseen consequences.  Other times people call it “scenario planning.” Either way, lawyers are horrible at applying it to themselves.  For now, it’s shocking and disorienting.

As you’re reading this, more than likely you’re at home, with your new co-workers (click on Tweet below to see thread with hundreds of replies and lots of pics of people’s pets).

You’ve got kids running around. You’re seeing your spouse or roommate WAY more often than usual. Stocks in the US are down 30%, and we’re heading into a bear market (stonks!).

Covid-19 has changed everything. We all need to be thoughtful, grateful, and generous. We are are all going to get through this. Here is a message I posted in LawyerSmack a week or so ago:

Contingency Plans and Business Continuity for Lawyers

But I also wanted to hear from you. So I put the call out to readers, Twitter, and LawyerSmack about how they were handling the crisis (shout out to my brother-in-law for the inspiration). The questions to lawyers were:

  • Advice for CURRENT cases in motion?
  • Advice on FUTURE projects (client development, business improvements)?
  • How best to use this time?  If you’re on the beach / bench?
  • Any famous quote to share (that reflect your mood, advice, aspirations currently)?

Contingency Plans and Business Continuity for Lawyers

Advice for CURRENT projects in motion?

  • Work on written discovery. Both your responses, and questions. Treat it like you are getting ready for trial. Make a trial notebook now. Witnesses and document lists.
  • Discovery schedules and deadlines are still ongoing so those will continue to be in place. You can try to get opposing counsels to agree to a new agreed schedule or continue working the discovery. in-person depositions will be hard now which is why I would lean towards getting new schedules.
  • Doing what I can to move them forward and keeping clients up to date with what is going on.
  • Keeping clients up to date with what the court system is pushing through. All trials/hearings in the next 6 weeks have been pushed.
  • Make sure everyone agrees on a trigger
  • Try and get continuances a month out. If crim law, proceed, to get folks out of custody if possible.
  • Use technology i.e., video conferencing, telephone, for urgent cases and those that involve the possibility of incarceration and postpone less urgent civil cases and those criminal cases with bonds
  • Work remotely and use Skype. Be honest with clients and adversary on meeting deadlines. Ask for extensions and in return grant them.
  • Go to a paperless office. Keep clients informed of potential court closings.
  • Comply with all deadlines as if nothing has changed. If necessary ask for extensions based on your and your client’s particular needs.
  • Take heart. You are saving gas money, parking expense and time, as we are able to handle a lot of court cases by telephone!
  • Working remotely and using video conferencing and other online platforms.
  • Communicate with your clients and manage expectations. Nothing’s happening quickly.
  • Be fair, reasonable and kind to your adversaries. They may not all reciprocate, but the majority will. As for the minority, their unreasonable and sharp tactics will not go unnoticed by the court.
  • Communicate – with staff, with court, with opposing counsel, with client – deadlines are in flux

Advice on FUTURE projects (client development, business improvements, etc)?

  • Reach out to past and current clients. Make sure they know your cell phone.
  • I think the nation is taking a lesson that not everything needs to be an in person meeting, interview, hearing. Try to get partners, businesses, etc. on board with adopting technology now so we it’ll make the transition easier in the future.
  • I’m taking this time to see what I can do to expand in the way I want, and work to increase steady monthly income opportunities within my firm.
  • Making sure we have good contact info for online comms only. Client’s frequent email, not general so we’re not playing phone tag.
  • Checking in on people and being sure they have estate planning in order
  • Write alerts, they help brand you. Online tools everywhere possible.
  • Advising small business to avoid lawsuits due to missed payment from shortage of revenues due to COVID19. Encourage small business to consider low interest loans
  • Skype, Zoom and virtual meetup
  • I want to learn more about potential new Unemployment Laws to help Small Businesses
  • Look to technology to remedy the need for a communal work place. A Cloud based practice would allow attorney’s and paralegal the ability to work from home to take care of their and their families health.
  • Keep planning! Your lawyers office should be able to handle a lot of things for you remotely.
  • Use the down time to work on business development strategies. Even if you can’t implement yet, have a plan.
  • Keep on writing and speaking (even if by webcast or webinar). Most remote workers (attorneys or clients) will be spending more time in front of a screen. They will be more likely to attend a webcast or webinar now than they were in the past.
  • Hope for the best, but plan and prepare for the worst. Saves a ton of scrambling and worry later.
  • For now just research. See the market and determine if it is still possible. If not see what you need do do to make the business plan suit the current reality or try another while holding the initial in abeyance.

How best to use this time? You’re going to have downtime, how are you using it? (Don’t swipe through social media all day)

  • Trying to settle cases that should be settled. Some money is better than none.
  • Reading, watching television, running, finally getting around to learning Spanish.
  • A lot of my practice will be continuing barring something truly tragic, so I will keep working on those. Other than that I am planning on catching up as much as I can and working on some business development.
  • Write some articles, back end business development projects.
  • I am against trying to do to much, this isn’t an enforced work period it is a really stressful intervention and we need to be focusing on things that entertain and distract as well as work to help make it through the long haul
  • Keeping normal hours and availability; washing hands more throughout the day and after each client.
  • F*ck that we be on Twitter and so are you
  • Legal research, study market disruptions, there will be new opportunities in the markets and in client contact
  • Use downtime to further your expertise in a legal area you are practicing or plan to start practicing – write law articles on subjects of interest
  • Talk to loved ones, read law review articles and setup work from home desk
  • Make sure to have “off” time for worrying about work and Covid-19
  • Keep handling life as you know it. Take an unplanned staycation and get stuff done around the house or office you haven’t had time to do. Limit social media time.
  • Engaging in something uplifting with all those i love and care about.
  • Use it to get some breathing room. Catch up on projects, get ahead on a couple of projects. DO spend some time to work ON your business and not just IN it. Most importantly, this is a stressful time, take a moment to appreciate what you have and enjoy the break.
  • Take a walk outside, weather permitting. Cut out an hour in the middle of the day and just go for a stroll. Most gyms are closed and folks need to get out of the house to (a) mitigate cabin fever; and (b) get some some kind of exercise.
  • Take stock – on your mental and physical health, check on your family, check on your clients. If they have a need that you can meet, meet it. Get fresh air when you can, escape via a favorite novel or movie you usually don’t have time for any more. Enjoy being “unbusy” when you can.

Any famous quote to share (that reflect your mood, advice, aspirations currently)?

  • Keep calm and carry on.
  • Try not to panic and remember that we are all humans at the end of the day. regardless of creed, color, sex, or however you want to subdivide people we are human beings first and we should be good to one another. Kindness is something that we should all try to demonstrate in times of need and set an example for others.
  • This too shall pass.
  • All we gotta do is be brave and be kind
  • “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.”
  • Do your part and God will complement it
  • George Eliot Poem fits my mood and advice
  • My grandparents kept a small business going through the Great Depression, if they can, so can I
  • ”Have Faith in God” Mark 11:22
  • No one on their deathbed ever wished that they had spent just a little more time at work.
  • This too shall pass. Kindness and compassion go a long way – we’re all in this together.
    “It takes us to do it for us” Nkwingwa Theo Tadfor
  • We’re all in this together.

There was also a final, bonus question. Multiple choice question with two options. There was an overwhelming favorite. But I think we can do both.

We’re going to get through this, together.

lawyers be excellent

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