As many practitioners begin to contemplate what a post-pandemic world will look like, it’s hard not to consider what permanent working arrangements will look like moving forward. With many law firms now facing a scattered workforce with some staff opting to return to the office and others continuing to work from home, questions around how this will be managed in the long term are rightly arising. Will you be expected to return to the office permanently? Do you plan on continuing to work from home? Will you take a flexible approach and work between home and the office?
However you or your firm chooses to manage your physical working arrangements, there are several things that many firm’s have realised over the course of this pandemic that won’t change.
If there is anything that this pandemic has shown us, it’s that no business is too large to face financial hardship – and unfortunately, law firms are no exception.
As many firms look for ways to get back on track after facing the initial financial stressors that the pandemic brought about, finding ways to secure cash flow has become a priority for firms of all sizes – from sole practitioners to multi-office firms.
Firms that have been able to offer their clients more flexible payment options than say, up-front payments into trust have cited their capacity to take on a greater number of clients or tap into a market of clients they previously would not have taken on. In the current climate, the offering of flexible payment options within the legal marketplace have become a key competitive advantage for an ever-growing number of firms.
Options like the instalment plans available in LEAP and provided by RapidPay, the legal profession’s trusted provider of financial services, have allowed countless numbers of LEAP law firms to secure a predictable cash flow during this turbulent and otherwise unpredictable time.
An instalment plan through RapidPay and LEAP allows you to arrange for a client to make regular fortnightly or monthly payments, using a credit card or bank account, directly into the corresponding matter, for the correct client into either your trust or office bank account for an agreed, affordable amount.
“It has actually increased our range of prospective clients, as there are a lot who can’t handle fees upfront, but are more inclined to do payment plans. We have received a large number of clients because of these payment plans when they are reluctant to pay fees upfront. A lot of these clients do have other fees that they need to take into consideration which can be quite substantial, particularly in tough times and dire straits. They just need a bit of wiggle room to pay their fees,”
To learn more about how your firm could benefit from using instalment plans, read Creating a Law Firm with Predictable Revenue.
As a cloud-based solution, LEAP has allowed its users to work from anywhere, at any time for years. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, many LEAP firms were able to set up working from home with little to no interruption to their day-to-day work.
Six months down the track and as most states start to navigate what is somewhat ‘business as usual’, many firms and practitioners are now questioning if there is in fact a need for all staff to permanently return to the office. With many practitioners now proving once and for all that they can easily and successfully work from home (or simply away from the office), the need for an actual office has been questioned by a number of firms already.
If you or your team has implemented processes that have enabled you to successfully work from home and communicate efficiently with other staff members, you’re in a great position to argue that returning to the office full time is not in fact necessary in a post-pandemic world – if that is your preference. With LEAP, the tools you need to work through your matters are no limitation to you taking advantage or working from home or out of the office – whether that’s on a full time basis or sporadically as and when the need arises.
While efficient communication when working from home may be a roadblock for law firms using outdated technology such as server-based practice management software, LEAP users are in an advantageous position thanks to integrations with Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
With the ability to easily start or schedule a Zoom meeting with colleagues or clients directly from a LEAP matter, communication is no barrier to holding meetings with remote working staff. Similarly, the integration between LEAP and Microsoft Teams gives you endless opportunities for collaboration with the ability to share documents and matters and real time. The option to conduct audio and video calls alongside instant messaging afforded by Teams gives you countless ways to communicate with colleagues who may be working from a different location – whether that’s in another office or at home.
Whether your firm opts to continue with its current work from home model (if applicable) or have all staff members permanently return to the office, the efficiency afforded by communication tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom should not be overlooked or taken for granted.
If you’re one of the many firms that have taken advantage of the streamlined client on-boarding process afforded by the integration between LEAP and the Web Portal during this pandemic, it’s almost certain you’ll continue with this process in a post-pandemic world – even if you plan to return the office.
Many firms have used this time away from their traditional brick and mortar offices to streamline their client on-boarding processes. With many businesses forced to operate remotely and clients or potential clients unable to attend firms for their initial appointments, the Web Portal’s intake forms have proven to be invaluable.
The intake forms available in the LEAP Web Portal allow you to easily gather all client information – from their contact details to key information about their matter, through an online form. Not only does this save time collecting information when meeting in person, but if you choose to take on the client’s matter, their information can be used to seamlessly populate a new matter in LEAP, allowing you to get started quicker and with less chance of error usually associated with manual data entry.
While keeping work and life separate has proved difficult for many practitioners even when they were working from the office, this pandemic has produced a number of heartwarming stories of practitioners that have found more time for themselves, their families or hobbies since being forced to work from home.
While balancing home and work life will never be a perfect science, if you’ve been able to find a greater balance between the two since working from home you’re probably starting to question how you’ll maintain this when you return to the office (if you haven’t already) and it’s business as usual again.
Consider how you were able to achieve a greater balance and give more time to yourself, family or hobbies. Did you utilise strategies like time-blocking? Did you impose strict start and finish times on your working day? Or did you re-prioritise what was important to you? As workloads increase again and you potentially contemplate returning to the office keep these questions front of mind to avoid devoting every minute to work. Could that email wait until the morning?