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The legal business after COVID-19: What’s next? | Yair Elsner

Tuesday, June 01, 2021 @ 8:44 AM | By Yair Elsner


Yair Elsner %>
Yair Elsner
There’s hardly an area of life that hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19, and the legal scene is no exception. With vaccinations rolling out, this is a good time to reflect on pandemic-related changes to the legal business and projections for the industry in the aftermath. Are the changes here to stay? Was it all bad or can we point to some positive outcomes? For one, client acquisition in the legal sector is one area that has become much more sophisticated due to the accelerated processes of digitalization.

COVID-19 impact on lawyers

Barry Nussbaum of Toronto-based Nussbaum Law explains how COVID-19, paradoxical to all its tragic aspects, actually brought a major influx of new clients to his firm. “We’ve seen a definite uptick in business during the pandemic,” Nussbaum said. “The reality is that COVID-19 has contributed to relationship breakdowns, given the unnatural situation of being at home with your spouse all the time, along with economic hardship.”

Stefan Juzkiw of Toronto-based Juzkiw Law, also confirmed this finding. “I have seen a 40 to 50 per cent increase in family law consultations — almost every other inquiry we get is about family law disputes,” he said. “There tends to be many more conflicts during the pandemic. The kids are at home and this creates more stress, or, due to the economic situation, people can’t pay support obligations, and this creates much more high-conflict relationship disputes.”

Adapting the customer experience

Aside from the increase in demand for family lawyers, COVID-19 has also accelerated the general trend of legal interactions being conducted over the Internet rather than in person, and with that, a diminishing importance of physical location.

Veronica Vallelonga of Quebec-based Devichy Lawyers, which has nine offices across the province, explained how her firm was well prepared for the pandemic, thanks to its unique business model. “The office is based on an online platform — we started off like this two years ago, so when COVID-19 hit, we were ready for this and for us, the business really took off,” she said. “We weren’t scrambling, but rather, just jumped on the bandwagon and we had a huge increase in clients.”

Vallelonga confirms the spike in couple separations, explaining that “there’s huge financial stress, no alone-time, and this has led to an increase in separations as well as a lot more cases of domestic violence.”

Juzkiw noted how the geographic reach of his law firm has expanded, reinforcing the benefits of providing online services. “I’ve started to get clients two to more than four hours away from Toronto, including cities such as Ottawa,” he noted.

Nussbaum tells a similar story. “Our firm has seen a marked uptick in out-of-town clients seeking lawyers from Toronto, as opposed to local lawyers from small towns, where there are fewer to choose from,” he said.

The general consensus among lawyers is that this is a trend that’s here to stay. However, there’s also an agreement that with a growing potential to serve clients across vast geographical areas, comes the need to effectively reach those clients. As a result, in the post-COVID-19 world, lawyers will increasingly need to move away from reliance on local word-of-mouth referrals towards targeted digital marketing.

Marketing transformation in the ‘next normal’

Fran Jakubowicz, CEO of SunHouse Marketing, said that the way family lawyers must now market themselves has been particularly affected by the pandemic.

“The huge boost in qualified leads we’ve seen for our family law clients is due not simply to increased organic traffic, which many other firms are experiencing, but also because of the customized ways in which we’ve been handling the traffic that comes to our clients’ websites and landing pages,” Jakubowicz explained.

“We’re working with law firms to leverage unique conversion rate optimization strategies, including interactive video, advanced chatbots, niche landing pages that are optimized for calls, and a number of other advanced tactics that have set these firms apart and resulted in a significant increase in business,” she added.

Barry Buckman, director of client strategies at SunHouse Marketing, explained that the shift to online services has opened up interesting marketing opportunities for lawyers. “Campaigns featuring an offer for free Zoom consultations are generating really impressive results. Prior to COVID-19, this was a non-starter, but people now actually prefer to go this route,” he said.

“Not only are these campaigns gaining traction, but we’re also able to go wide geographically in marketing outreach,” Buckman said. “This has not only boosted search campaigns, but also video campaigns on YouTube, where we’re able to really showcase the ease of communication between client prospects and lawyers.”

It will indeed be interesting to follow how things play out over the next six to 12 months. While family tranquility is always the preference, it’s encouraging that the legal scene can adapt to serve the growing and pressing legal needs of the public in difficult times and beyond.

Yair Elsner is the director of business development at SunHouse Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in lead generation for legal firms. A veteran of the digital marketing industry, Elsner is a seasoned online specialist focused on building strategic opportunities and key partnerships for SunHouse Marketing.

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