Webinar Recap:
How to Run Your Law Firm Remotely During COVID-19

In times of unprecedented business disruption, it can be challenging to keep your firm’s day-to-day operations on track. However, clients need assurance their cases are still being handled, your staff needs to work in sync to remain productive, and your firm needs to keep its cash flow moving.

To help attorneys establish remote business protocols, Deputy Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Heidi Alexander, offered expert guidance on how to maintain business continuity during COVID-19.

Watch the full recorded webinar presentation.

Jump To a Topic

7:42 – In the Short Term

When time is of the essence, here are questions you should ask yourself in order to prioritize your firm’s remote transition plan.

18:08 – Tools to Get You Through WFH

From keeping your cases on track to client communication, use these tools and software to keep your firm running on all cylinders.

47:20 – Management Guidance

To those who are managing law firms, take these measures to avoid communication breakdowns and keep your staff connected and on task.

50:41 – Well-Being During Quarantine

When your law office has transitioned to working remotely, it’s easy to feel isolated as the boundaries between home and work life begin to blur. Here’s how to mitigate that.

Webinar Transcript

Martin Cogburn:

Welcome everyone to today’s webinar on running your law firm remotely presented by Heidi Alexander, Esquire. My name is Martin Cogburn. I’m Content Marketing Manager at MyCase and I’ll be your host today.

 

Before we jump in, just on behalf of MyCase, I want to thank you all for joining us for this presentation. We know given the current circumstances, it’s a challenging time for a lot of law firms and businesses in general. What we really want is for you to walk away today with action items to formulate a plan to maintain business continuity while your office doors are closed until further notice.

 

We’ve also been hearing from a number of firms transitioning to working remotely with minimal lapse in productivity. Our goal here is to really help you be among them.

 

For those of you who are just joining us today, we’ll be hearing from Heidi Alexander, Esquire, who actually has collaborated with us in the past a number of times. You may be familiar with her and her work. I’d love to quickly introduce Heidi a little bit before we get started.

 

Heidi Alexander, Esquire is the Deputy Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, where she helps manage organization operations and leads the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program or LOMAP. LOMAP provides free and confidential practice management assistance, guidance and implementing new law office technologies and methods to attain healthy and sustainable practices. 

 

She’s the author of Evernote as a Law Practice Tool, serves on the ABA TECHSHOWs planning board, and founded the ABA’s Women of Legal Technology Initiative.

 

In 2017, Heidi was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Advisory Committee on Professionalism. She’s a native Minnesotan, former collegiate ice hockey goaltender for the Amherst College Women’s Ice Hockey Team and mother of three young children. She can be reached via email at heidi@masslomap.org. Twitter, @heidialexander or on LinkedIn.

 

Again, thank you all for being here today. Take it away, Heidi.

 

Heidi Alexander:

All right. Thank you Martin for the introduction.

 

First, I want to thank MyCase for putting on this webinar because it’s such an important time. We’re getting questions through my organization and bar associations, many others about how to run practices virtually and continue to maintain your practice, sustain your practice in this time where we don’t know when we’ll be back to our offices. Some of you may be in jurisdictions where courts are closed, you’re able to do e-Filing, if you need to, or email service even. We have an order in Massachusetts to that effect. Lots of changes. I’m going to try to help you out in the next hour or so and give you some tips to help you work remotely and continue, as Martin said, to be productive.

 

One quick note about me. I actually just in the past week started a new job. I have left our lawyer assistance program, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, which is a fantastic organization helping attorneys in many different ways. I am now the new director of our state’s Supreme Judicial Court’s Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being. In that role, helping attorneys in a number of different ways, including with technology competency and making sure that … especially at this time, and making sure people continue to focus on their well-being and make sure that people feel good and confident about the work that they’re doing. This is certainly in line with my current work.

 

Enough about me. I want to now talk about you and the challenges that you’re facing and how we can help. As you all know, there’s a lot of uncertainty around these times. It can be very challenging. In Massachusetts alone, we have multiple court orders coming out every single day. Attorneys’ email, inboxes are being flooded by different court orders that they’re having to interpret and make sense of, understand, and also explain to their clients as well. You’re trying to manage all that and also run your practice in a potentially a completely different way than you had previously.

 

One day you’re in your office and you have all these systems set up, your operations, and now all of a sudden, you are working from a remote location, trying to figure out what you need to do, how you can continue to practice and optimize the technology. What I hope that people will be thinking about is how … during this time, what opportunities are there. Once we’ve actually settled down and we can figure out how to continue to run our practices, are there operational changes that are benefiting your practice? Are there changes that you’ve seen in the courts that might benefit your practice or increase efficiency?

 

I know some of our courts are now having telephonic conference calls so that attorneys don’t have to sit around in the courthouse all day long. That could be a huge benefit to attorneys.

 

Other benefits I see are adoption of case management systems like MyCase. That is going to improve the efficiency of your practice, make you more productive. Those are all great opportunities. I know it’s a very challenging time, but I think there are a number of opportunities and I think if you can look at it in that positive way, I think that we’re going to come out of this much better than we went into it.

 

Here’s the thing. How do we adapt? How do we start off? Many of you are no longer in your physical offices. What do we need to think about first? This is what I would encourage you to do. Here, I have on the screen an image of Stephen Covey’s time management matrix. I think this is a good way to start off. If you’ve just moved into your home office and you’re trying to figure out how do I continue my operation, what do I need to do?

Heidi Alexander:

The first thing is going to be to prioritize. Okay. You can use this matrix to do it or you can just make a priority list. I wouldn’t make it too long. Because if your list is too long, it’s going to become overwhelming. Think about the things that are, one, especially in this quadrant one, urgent and important, your clients. Your clients are extremely important. Without it, you don’t have a practice. How do you make sure that you have information on each of your clients so that you could notify your clients? Clients are going to be extremely important. Operations, how are you going to get mail? Do you have access to your email questions like that, that we’re going to talk about in depth.

 

Like I said, don’t create a crazy list of 50 different areas. Start small. Okay. A list of five different areas. Then within each of those categories, you’re going to define what I call specific and actionable tasks, okay, that you are going to take in order to deal with those five areas. Okay. The first thing you want to do is prioritize. Sit down. Take about 10, 15 minutes. Figure out where your priorities are. That’s going to also help you decrease some of the stress and anxiety that we’re all facing because of all of these unknowns. It’s a lot to take on. Let’s try to make it a little bit more manageable.

 

Like I said, starting off clients. Clients are extremely important. Do you have your client’s information? Do you have a master list of all of your clients and their contact information so that you can notify them and let them know? What are your current procedures? Are they changing? What should they be concerned about? You need to be in touch with your clients. If that means a blast to all of your clients, that’s fine if you need to. If you need to update certain clients on certain cases, you can do that as well. But have some system for doing this.

 

First of all, you should have a list of master clients that might be in … If you’re using MyCase, that might be in the case management system. You can the see entire list of all of your clients and communicate with them. That’s an easy way to do it. On an Excel spreadsheet, or some data so that you can track that you have communicated with your clients and notified them and also determining what the status of their matter is. Okay.

 

Other questions that you’ll need to answer. Here’s another category of major category, files. Okay. Are you someone who has physical files in your office? What are you going to do about those physical files when you can no longer go into your office and take a file as needed? You’re probably not going to want to rent a U-Haul to get all those physical files from your office to your home. We don’t want to make those major changes. Maybe you make a list of what files you need immediate access to, making a quick list of those files that you have to have immediate access to. Maybe you take those files with you or maybe you scan those files. Maybe you scan them quickly before you leave your office so that you can have electronic copies. It may be that even those physical files, those physical files, a lot of what’s in the file you may have electronically. Think about that. All this work product that you’ve maybe printed out and put it in a physical file, you may already have that electronically. You may not need to scan everything in. But think about what files you will need.

 

If you have staff, this creates a whole another layer of complexity. Because if you have one staff member taking one file, another staff member taking another file, you should create some system to check out files. If you’re going to let people in your office take these physical files, make sure you have an index of which files are in physical format and who has that file. Okay. That when hopefully we do get back into our offices, we can make sure that those files are maintained. Okay.

 

We’ve gone through client information, files, now communication. Okay. This is important because we need to make sure that we maintain our … during this time. We’re probably going to receive increased communications. We want to make sure that we have access to our email to our mail. Can you send and receive communications with your clients, opposing counsel, courts, etc? Okay. When you leave your office, do you know how to access your email? Do you have an email server? What are you using to access your email? Are there certain security settings that wouldn’t allow you to access your email from a different computer? You should know how to access your email. You need to be able to access your email remotely, whether it’s on your phone or whether it’s on a laptop or some other mobile device. Are you doing so securely?

 

One of the things that’s happening right now is that there are, unfortunately, hackers that are taking advantage of this situation, because they know that when people leave their offices, they’re in their office, they’ve got this higher level of security when they go home and they start working at home with confidential information, potentially financial information, or social security numbers and all of a sudden, you don’t have the same security systems in place that you do in your office. You need to be aware of that and think about what steps you need to take to address that. I’m going to talk more later.

 

How are you going to take calls? How are you going to make calls? How are you going to check your voicemail? We’re going to talk about different systems that you can use. But if you have a landline in your office and you have no way of getting those phone calls, how are you going to deal with that? You got to put a plan in place. These are some key areas, again, that you’re going to want to be looking at and, again, prioritizing and thinking about what steps you’re going to take to make sure that all these things are covered.

 

Finances. Okay. Finances. Everyone is concerned about this. What’s the economy going to look like? Doesn’t look so great now. What is it going to look like in six months? We don’t know. Especially for solo and small firms. What does your cash flow look like? Do you have some savings that could get you through a time where maybe you don’t have the same cash flow. Cash flow is down.

 

Looking into some of these SBA bridge loans, the disaster recovery, disaster relief loans, also loans for paying payroll. There’s a number of these opportunities in the Stimulus Bill. Take a look at those. In terms of paying your bills, do you receive invoices, paper invoice at your office? If you can’t get your mail anymore, how are you going to pay those bills? Okay. What are you going to do with payroll? Do you write out physical checks or do you receive those in the mail?

 

Let’s make sure that our employees still get paid, okay, and figuring out how to do that. Do you pay vendors electronically or by check? Okay. You’re going to have to send things in. Could you go through … let’s figure out which ones you could pay electronically. Again, this is another major category that you want to be considering when you’re prioritizing what you need to do. Okay. We’re going to get into some of this in detail.

 

Okay. All right. Let’s talk more about what you need to do, specific ideas and systems. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with this reference, one of the best shows ever made: Battlestar Galactica. Every single episode starts with, “This has all happened before, and it will all happen again.”

 

The reason why I put this in here is that the ability to work remotely, the ability to have a virtual practice is nothing new. Okay. It’s been around for a long time. It’s not like we’re sitting here going, “Oh my gosh. None of these tools exist to practice remotely.” They all exist. There are so many tools. There is no lack of tools. There is no lack of tutorials on these tools. It’s more of a question of which tool are you going to use and how are you going to implement it in your practice? Okay. Let’s look at just by way of example.

 

Here is a law firm, MyVirtual.Lawyer who has been running a virtual law practice for a number of years now. It’s a practice that employs a number of attorneys nationwide. They do their work virtually. They’ve been doing this for a while. Everything is on their website. I’m not saying you need to create a new website and create a whole virtual practice presence. But my point is that the tools are there and you can make it work. Okay.

 

All right. Let’s start off with some of the tools that you’re probably going to need in order to maintain your practice outside of your physical office. Okay. The first one is some device to do your work. If you had a desktop computer in your office, chances are you’re not lugging that desktop computer home with you. Maybe you have a staff member access to a computer. What do you do? You get them a cheap mobile device or laptop. Okay.

 

You may have to search around at this point because these things are in high demand. What I did here was I did a very quick Google search for a cheap laptop. I looked to see what was out there. There is a ton. I was looking for laptops under $500. You can see. There are a ton of options there. Okay.

 

It’s not like this is not an investment for your firm. This is the type of thing, again, like I said, it’s an opportunity. Okay. Maybe you had been thinking about, “Oh, maybe my staff member should have a laptop to work remotely if they need to.” Here’s your opportunity, get them a laptop so they can work remotely or get yourself one so you can work remotely. Okay. All right. Laptop is number one.

 

Case management software. I’m hopeful that a number of you that are listening in are using MyCase, case management software. It gives you the ability to have the central repository of information, access to your clients, access to your correspondence, your tasks, your calendar, potentially connected to demands and the ability to communicate in the client portal. I mean this thing is doing it all for you.

 

If you are at a crossroad and you’ve been thinking, you’ve been on the fence and saying, “No. I’m not sure whether I want to … management systems.” Now is definitely the time to be thinking about that. Because it is going to give you the ability to track all this information that would have otherwise been in a number of different systems, including potentially physical systems like a physical calendar or physical paper files or a Rolodex, even. Using a case management system is going to be a huge advantage and is absolutely necessary for any virtual practice. Again, if you’ve been wavering, now is the time to make that investment.

 

Speaking of calendars, unfortunately, physical calendars, just not going to cut it these days. Hopefully, you did not leave a physical calendar in your office when you left your office. If you’re still in your office, make sure you take that physical calendar. I have huge concerns over physical calendars, because they can disappear. I’ve had a number of attorneys who I’ve worked with who have used multiple physical calendars. That creates even more problems, because oftentimes something on one calendar doesn’t make it onto another calendar. Maybe you have an assistant that you’re working with and they have what you’re calling the master calendar. Maybe you forgot to add something into the master calendar.

 

A much, much better solution is to have an electronic calendar. If you have staff or you have colleagues, you need to have a shared calendar. You need to have a way so that you can share appointments. You can invite each other to different appointments. You could see each other’s calendars or you have an assistant who could just add something directly to your calendar. These are the things, again, that had been around for a long time. They’re essential for any practice. In my opinion, they’re essential to be productive and efficient in your practice.

 

One of the ways you can do this is one, of course, through MyCase, you can have a shared calendar. You can also use something like Office 365. If you have Microsoft Office 365, you can share calendars through Outlook. Okay. That’s one way of doing it. If you have a Google account, you can create a Google Calendar. This is probably the easiest, the simplest way if you need to do something, you’ve got an assistant, you haven’t figured out how to share a calendar, just start a new calendar. That’s what I’m showing on this screen. It’s through your Google account. Go to Google Calendars and create a new calendar and share it. Once you share it, both of you will have access to that calendar. You can also have your own private calendar so you could have one shared calendar and a private calendar. Again, this is a really easy step that you can take if you need it.

 

Cloud Storage. Okay. If you’re currently storing documents on a computer hard drive in your office or a server in your office that you can’t access remotely, now may be the time to be thinking about a cloud storage system. Again, these things have been around for a long time. Lots of attorneys are using them. We’re going to talk about security. But as long as you use them, you take some certain security precautions in my mind, and many experts. This is going to be more secure than having your own server that usually most solo and small firms cannot maintain to the level of security that one of these systems could because they’re really in the business of security.

 

Here are a few of them. I put up here some of the most popular systems. They all offer remote access to documents. You can easily, very quickly open up an account. You can drop your active files into there so that you can access those files from your home office. We don’t need to talk about doing a huge migration. If you’ve got a ton of stuff on a server or a hard drive, you don’t necessarily need to migrate all that over right now. But what you do need to do is make sure you have those active files or those frequently accessed files in the cloud storage drive so that you can access them remotely.

 

A staff person can access them remotely. Another attorney can access them remotely. Very, very easy to do. The way that all these work is they basically they put a local copy of the document on your hard drive and you access it through a folder system, just like you would if you had a folder system on your hard drive or on a computer or on a server.

 

This is really easy to use. There’s really not much of a learning curve at all in order to use these systems. Okay. That’s an easy thing to do. Again, we’re talking about opportunities. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to move to a cloud storage repository, because it’s going to allow you, again, to be more effective, more efficient, more productive in practice moving forward.

 

How do you get things, physical things into that cloud repository? You can use a scanner. You don’t necessarily need, like if you have a big fancy list copy and scan machine in your office, you don’t necessarily need that to create an electronic copy of a file. Okay. You could use something like I’m showing here on the screen, a mobile scanner. Okay. There’s tons of mobile scanning apps for both Android and iPhone. This one in particular is scannable. It’s free. It’s made by Evernote. There’s lots of other apps out there.

 

The way that this thing works is hold it over a document. It’s going to recognize the document. It’s going to crop it. It’s going to adjust the lighting. It’s going to create a PDF. You can actually create a multi-page PDF by holding your phone over a document and just flipping the page. It takes just a couple of minutes to do that. If you want to get something quickly up into the cloud and you can store it directly to the cloud, you can use one of these tools to do it.

 

The other one on the other side is the Fujitsu ScanSnap, which is a very, very popular scanning device for attorneys. It works really quickly. It’s fast. It can do double-sided. It can scan directly to the cloud. If you’re trying to work towards more of a paperless practice moving forward, which hopefully many of you are, ready to share documents with other people who you are not in the same place with, this is a good way of doing it.

 

All right. Let’s talk about facts. If for some unfortunate reason you still have to use a fax machine, this is a great time to take a leap and migrate to an electronic fax service. Okay. There’s a website called eFax Compare. eFax Compare actually lists out a bunch of different electronic faxing services and what they offer. A lot of them you pay by fax or you get a certain number of faxes a month. They’re very, very cost-effective like pennies.

 

The way that electronic fax works is by scanning something and you either sending it through a portal in your web browser or sending it via email to wherever it needs to go. You can receive faxes as well with electronic fax and that faxes will come right to your email. Okay. Exactly like sending an email. Okay. That’s how it works. Like I said, here’s a few of them. I would also take a look at Fax Compare. But eFax is a big name, Maxemail, Faxaway. There’s a ton of them out there. This is a very, very, very easy way to send and receive emails.

 

All right. Here’s another major issue right now. What do you do with your mail? If you can’t go into your office and can’t receive mail and you’re certainly not going to get it every single day, what do you do about that? This is something that’s tough. I think people are figuring this out day by day.

 

I’ve seen some firms that have one person who, if they’re able to, can go into the office to collect the mail. What they do is instead of sending that mail to everyone else, they’ll scan it. That’s where one of these scanners comes in. They can scan it and email it to whomever it is addressed to. That’s one way to do it. Something else you can do is contact your postal service and forward your mail. Okay. You can forward it through the US Postal Service. The problem is that it can take up to 10 days to do it. But you could forward your mail to your home address. You may want to do that now.

 

If you are expecting mail, if you do get a lot of mail, I mean, you may want to think about changing your address on your website, your social media account, Google My Business Listing, changing it in all of those places so that people can send you mail if you need it. Maybe get a local PO Box that you could check on a weekly basis.

 

The other alternative is potentially using a service. There’s actually this really interesting service called Earth Class Mail. Earth Class Mail actually receives your mail. They scan it and then they email it to you so that you never even received your physical mail. They receive it. This is a new service that’s actually been marketed to lawyers specifically. It’s certainly interesting now. That’s an option as well.

 

Again, think about whether you’re going to get your mail, what do you need to do with your mail, and that goes back to this idea of what are you getting in the mail? What do you receive in the mail? Are you receiving notices from the court? Is there a way that you could change your address with the court so that you don’t receive those notices from the court to your business address? Are you receiving bills, invoices? Can you change those so that you’re not receiving those to your physical address and you start paying those online? Make a list, again, of all of your vendors that you need to pay. That’s mail.

 

E-signatures. Okay. Now, that we’re starting to think about, again, working remotely, working virtually. For most of the time, you do not need to have a wet signature, an original signature. You can use a digital signature. All of these tools give you the ability to create a digital signature. Okay. Again, they’re different plans, different types of rates, they’re all pretty reasonable. Some of them give you a certain number a month.

 

The way that they work is you upload a document. Which will then either create a link or it will ask you who you want to send it to. You can put in their email address. It’s going to send directly … the recipient then signs it online. You will then get a copy and they will then get a copy for their records. This really streamlines the process, even makes it easier than printing out a document, hand signing it, and scanning it back in. Okay. Use one of these electronic signature tools.

 

Communication. Okay. I talked about communication early on. How are you going to make sure that you can continue to be in touch with your clients, you can continue to answer your phones, and continue to make calls? If you have a landline phone in your office, one of the first things you’re going to want to do is contact your provider and ask them to forward your calls to a new phone line. That’s going to be very, very important.

 

If that’s the case, what you’re probably going to want to do is look into a Voice Over Internet phone provider. There are tons of them out there. Okay. The easiest one is Google Voice which gives you your own number. It’s actually free to create a number and you use your app on your phone to make calls and receive calls. In that way your numbers masked. You don’t have to give out your personal cell phone number. Google also transcribes those messages so that you can have a transcription of the voicemail messages that you receive. Okay.

 

These are, again, a number of different services. There’s Google. There’s RingCentral. They all have different rates, different features. But it allows you to use your mobile device to receive calls anywhere you are. You can set these things up for multiple users so that you can have an Auto-Attendant that answers your phone, says press … Heidi Alexander, press two if you’d like someone else. It will connect and have the ability to transfer. If someone calls you and you wanted to transfer them to someone else in your office without having to say “Well, can you call back or call this phone number.” You can say, “Yeah, hold on one second. I’m just going to transfer you.” it’s almost like sitting in the same office. But you may be miles and miles apart. Okay. These services are fantastic for that purpose.

 

I’m sure everyone at this point has probably been on a Zoom meeting. Everyone seems to be using Zoom these days. Lots of educational institutions are using Zoom. I think people are really benefiting from using video conferencing now. We’re finding that people are using video conferencing even when in the past. If they were going to just pick up the telephone and call someone, they’re now actually using video conferences instead. Some people actually having more face-to-face interaction because they’re using the video conferencing.

 

Video conferencing like Zoom or Skype, there’s a bunch of them out there, you do need to have a mobile camera and a microphone. You may have one already in your computer, which would be fine, or you could use a mobile device to do it or a tablet or buy a separate video camera. Although I’m hearing that all the Logitech devices are out of stock. You may have to look around for one of them. You could also purchase a cheap computer that has a microphone and video camera and that would work. That would work just as well.

 

I’m going to talk about security in a moment. But just a note on security, we’re hearing a number of security issues particularly with Zoom which is to be expected because the load on them has increased exponentially. One of the things we’ve been hearing is that people are dropping into people who shouldn’t be in meetings. Just make sure if you’re using Zoom and you’re giving out a link, don’t post it on a website. You don’t make it public. Then you make sure you know who’s in your meeting. If it says there are 12 people in the meeting, and there should only be 10 people in the meeting, then you need to make sure you know who those other two people are, especially when we’re dealing with issues of client confidentiality.

 

All right. Let’s move on to keeping your data safe during this period of time. The first thing is you want to have backups. Okay. Maybe you were in an office where your server was being backed up on a regular basis. Now you’re home. You don’t have your server. You’ve got your storing information maybe on your hard drive. You got to make sure that your computer is being backed up. There’s what I call the 321 backup strategy, which requires at least three copies of your data. Two backup copies on different storage media and one of them located offsite. Offsite could just be an online backup provider. One of these Mozy, Backblaze, CrashPlan, Carbonite, there’s lots of them out there.

 

Having an online backup and then also having a physical backup where you take a drive and you plug it into your computer and you let it back things up. The online providers are going to back up your data incrementally. Okay. They back up while you’re working. Definitely have one of these backup systems.

 

All right. Speaking of security, I mentioned this early on. There are people out there that are taking advantage of this situation. We have so many people working from home and don’t have the proper security setup. Just a few notes here. One is please make sure that you’re not using any of the passwords that are on the screen right now. Okay. This is a word cloud that comes out every single year with the most popular passwords. Inevitably, it’s the same every single year. People are still using these passwords. If you’re using one of these passwords, please stop now, change your password. Okay. That’s going to be your best defense against a potential threat. Use really good passwords, strong passwords, multi-factor passwords, and unique passwords in between services. Okay.

 

The other thing is use Two-FACTOR Authentication whenever you can. A lot of these major services like Dropbox, like Google, like Office 365, they have what’s called Two-Factor Authentication. Two-Factor Authentication requires that you enter a password. Then you either get a text message to your device, or you have to use an app to generate a code. That way, if someone across the world gets a hold of your password, they shouldn’t also have your physical device. They shouldn’t be able to access your information. Okay. Wherever you can, set up Two-Factor Authentication, it’s very easy to do.

 

Virtual private networks. Okay. If you are in a place where you might be sharing internet, or you don’t know if your internet is secure, or you’re concerned about your internet, maybe it’s not secure. Okay. If that’s the case, you should be using what’s called the VPN, a virtual private network. What it will do is encrypt the traffic that’s coming to and from your computer.

 

If you send an email out or you go to a website, anything you do online, you’re going to do it through an encrypted portal. Basically a private portal, so that even if you’re using this public internet, everything that you are doing from your computer to the internet is going to be encrypted. Take a look at some of these VPN tools and use those. That brings up another point, too, is if you do have a home internet system, you’ve got a router, take a look at how that router is configured. Most of these routers on the back have access to their router’s administrative portal. It gives you the web address and it gives you the username and the password and you can go in there and make sure that this router is protected and encrypted. You want to look to make sure that WPA2 is turned on, WPA2.

 

You may even want to change the default password for your router, okay, because these come shipped with a password. Okay. You may want to make sure that you change that. Okay. Those are a few different things that you can do to make sure that your network is secure. If you’re finding that you’re having issues with your network in your house, maybe you’re not getting access to it when you’re up at the top of your house, you might consider one of these mesh networks. Eero makes a mesh network. There’s a bunch of different ones, E-E-R-O. Really easy to set up. It’s a plug and play and it has a mobile app.

 

All right. Couple more things here and then I will wrap up. I wanted to give a few notes to those who are managing law firms. Because, again, this is a time where there’s so much uncertainty, especially firms that have never had remote workers. They’re trying to figure out, “What do I do with my staff? How do I remain connected? How do I make sure they’re doing their work? How do I work with them effectively?”

 

Here’s a couple of things that you want to make sure that you’re doing. One is having remote check-ins with your staff and with management, with attorneys. Okay. Probably wanting to do this on a regular basis. Maybe it doesn’t have to be every day. But having these check-ins and also asking people how they’re doing emotionally. How are you doing? Is there anything that you need? Is there anything that I can help you with? Are there any obstacles that are in your way? Because the last thing you want to happen is communication to break down and then all of a sudden you’re not meeting a certain deadline or you failed to communicate with a client. We don’t want that to happen.

 

When you do these remote check-ins, doing them via video chat is fantastic. Okay. Using something like Zoom or Skype or FaceTime to connect with your staff. Taking a look at your policies. Okay. When’s the last time your employee manual has been reviewed? What are your sick and paid leave policies? Do you have a policy on remote access? Okay. Did you just ship a laptop to one of your staff members without any guidelines on how to make sure that laptop is used securely? Okay. Think about some of these policies and how you’re going to handle them.

 

Again, I’ve talked about opportunities. I think a lot of the changes that are being made in law practice are great opportunities for the future. Don’t feel like you’re doing this temporarily. These may be things that you can invest in and that are going to improve your practice in the long run.

 

Also, don’t forget to continue to develop business. I mean, I know that right now people are overwhelmed and we’re trying to figure out what we do on a daily basis. But remember, you’re still a business, maybe think of more creative ways now, how you’re going to generate business. If this lasts for a period of time, a long period of time, how are you going to continue to get business? If maybe a lot of your business development was in-person, you’re going to have to think creatively. Make sure that stays … you think about that at some point. We don’t want to completely lose focus on that.

 

Finally, your well-being. I’d be remise to not talk about well-being, especially in my current role. I think a lot of practitioners right now and a lot of people are feeling isolated. They’re stuck in their houses. If you’ve got some preexisting position that are higher risk, people aren’t leaving their houses at all. Some states, we’ve got their shelter in place orders. It can feel isolating, especially if you’re like a solo practitioner. Make sure that you seek out support from the community, maybe at a bar association, maybe it’s, for example, our local Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is offering open connection groups on a weekly basis. People can just come in, talk about issues, challenges, connect with other attorneys.

 

Be mindful of changes in your mind, in your body. Maybe this is the time to think about practicing mindfulness or meditation or even just breathing. The Brown Mindfulness Center in Rhode Island is actually offering free mindfulness sessions that you can take advantage of. Take a look at those.

 

The other thing is daily habits and rituals. In order for us to continue to maintain our practice, to continue to focus, we want to make sure that we can decrease some of the anxiety and stress by trying to maintain some of our daily practice. If you’re someone who gets up and exercises every morning, well, maybe you can’t go to your gym, but can you do your exercise in your house. There’s so many online videos now and classes to do that. Doing that on a regular basis, making sure that you … if you always sit down and have lunch every day, doing that, nothing major changes. Okay. That’s all important. Make sure that you’re paying attention, again, to yourself and prioritizing your own self-care.

 

Here’s a number of different resources. I did a webinar with one of my colleagues in North Carolina on how to prepare for a pandemic. She put together a number of different resources as well. There’s a whole list of resources on these blogs as well. Here’s my contact information. If you want to reach out to me, I’m happy to hear from you.

 

Again, I definitely want to thank MyCase for doing this webinar. It was their idea to do it. I commend them for doing that. I think it’s really important. Hopefully, you will also share some of these tips with your colleagues. With that, I’m going to turn it back over to Martin to see if there are any questions.

 

Martin Cogburn:

Heidi, thank you so much, again, for partnering with us on this presentation. Like you said, this couldn’t be more important at this time. We really appreciate you being with us and just sharing this information and all those resources we shared. As well as the full recap of this will be published shortly on MyCase blog within the next few days. Anyone who missed out or anyone who wants to just refer back to these resources can do so on the website.

 

I’m just going to do a quick Q&A. We have a few questions to close out the presentation. Let’s go ahead and jump right in. The first being, do you have any tips on maintaining just a personable and welcoming relationship with clients while working remotely?

 

Heidi Alexander:

Yeah. That’s a great one. I would encourage people to do these video chats as often as possible. Again, I mean, these are free tools. You can open up a Zoom account for free and you can have a meeting for … let’s see, I think it’s under … if you have three people or less, you can have an unlimited time meeting. If it’s over three people, it’s only 40 minutes that you’re allotted. Using FaceTime maybe your client has an iPhone using that as a tool or Skype.

 

Continuing to maintain these relationships, maybe set up a weekly meeting with your client, a weekly video chat to let them contact you and let you know if they have concerns. Setting up weekly office hours, publishing office hours and saying, “I’m going to be available every Monday and Wednesday for questions, know that I’m here, I’m supporting you.” I think that’s important and also just keeping in touch with your clients. Keeping them updated as to the status, what are you hearing from the courts, how is this going to change your case, those types of things. But I think we have great tools available especially for that one-on-one personable video chatting, which I think works very well. People are becoming more accustomed to it now.

 

Martin Cogburn:

Great, thank you. Next question might be a little more subjective. Do you have any tips around maintaining cash flow remotely as opposed to in the office while you’re probably working fewer cases?

 

Heidi Alexander:

Yeah. Obviously, this is going to depend on your practice area. There are going to be people like litigators whose practices are probably going to continue to operate, no problem. Real-estate practices, permitting practices are going to see a huge slowdown. If you’re concerned about cash flow, I mean, one, you should definitely look into the SBA loans. The other thing is that you might want to look at some of the freelance lawyer websites. For example, something like LAWCLERK or there’s a number of other sites where you can go on as, basically, a contract attorney and say, “I’m available for projects.”

 

Again, there definitely firms and especially bigger firms that are still … they’re still doing a ton of work and work’s probably only picked up at this point for them. They meet. It’s possible that they’re outsourcing projects. If you want to do something like that, I would definitely consider that as an option, taking a look at some of those freelancing and project-based websites.

 

Martin Cogburn:

All right. Let’s do one more here. What do you have to say just to firms in general who are concerned about downtime if they’re migrating, for instance, to a case management software at this time?

 

Heidi Alexander:

Yeah. That’s a good question. I mean, anytime you implement a new piece of technology, you’re going to see … there’s going to be a learning curve. You have to assume that there’s going to be some time that you need to spend trying to understand and implement the system. I think especially if you’re seeing any slowdown in work right now, now would be a great time to use that opportunity to do this.

I think that with any of the case management systems, you may see a slowdown initially, but it’s going to come back to you in much, much more productivity and efficiency in the future. Again, I think that this is a great opportunity to take that leap. Know that, yeah, you may have a little bit more work initially, but a lot of these systems … I mean, MyCase, I think, has a great user interface, you can learn how to operate it in not too long. I’m sure Martin can say something more about the support. MyCase has a lot of support as well. They can help walk you through all this as well.

Martin Cogburn:

Thank you again Heidi. That was amazing. Thank you for answering those questions. I’m sure that was really helpful to a lot of friends listening today. That’s all the time we have. And I want to thank you all for joining us. We’re all going to get through this and have a great rest of your day.

 





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