Law Firm Leaders – Effective Leadership Through Crisis

Leaders of every business, including general counsel, are focused on mitigating business disruption and economic impact, all while navigating unchartered territory during the current pandemic.  Law firms and lawyers can differentiate themselves right now, and this is how. 

At the end of Q1 of 2020, lawyers and firms are most likely thinking about their individual numbers and goals.  Under normal circumstances, that would be encouraged.  During this pandemic, however, it is short-term thinking and could hold long term consequences.  Don’t make the mistake of only thinking about how you can benefit due to increased client demands or needs.  You will lose that valuable relationship.

Business leaders and general counsel are looking to trusted advisors.  They need to act quickly with good information.  Their workload has not decreased; more than likely, it has increased as they find themselves short-staffed and with fewer resources.  Their focus now has shifted to essential urgencies often involving supply chains, cybersecurity and their workforce.  As a firm, or as an individual, how can you help your clients right now?  How can you be a resource to them?  Not by billing more hours and increasing your rates. Rather, think about what value you can offer to the person and to the business – working out the hours or the money secondarily.    

For example, how can you help them shift their non-critical work out further down the line without putting them at a disadvantage?  And, can you do this proactively before they reach out to you?  So, instead of reacting to their call or requests, reach out to them with the situation, the suggestion, and your advice or counsel.  This is the time to demonstrate your core values, to be of service and to build relationships for the long haul. 

Although there will be many unexpected needs in a variety of practices, we can anticipate increased demands in the following practice areas:

  • Labor & Employment
  • Bankruptcy
  • Insurance
  • Litigation

Law firm lawyers – don’t make the mistake of seeing this pandemic as a short-term opportunity.  Instead, invest in the long-term relationships in a thoughtful and helpful way.  Put yourself in the shoes of your in-house counsel: be proactive with your clients, take something off of their plate, maybe it makes sense to proactively offer rate discounts.  Don’t think about your own hours and numbers.  Instead, think about investing in the long-term relationship you are building with  your client.  People will remember the law firms and the lawyers who helped them in a critical time of need.

Jodi Standke is the CEO of Talon Performance Group, Inc., a comprehensive talent alignment firm that provides leadership development, communication effectiveness, presentation coaching, business development training, executive search services, and project staffing. She can be reached at 612-827-5165 or at