Last week, we held the very first virtual LabCon. When it became clear that we needed to cancel the Atlanta conference in order to do our part to help flatten the curve of coronavirus, we immediately shifted gears and planned to hold LabCon by video. So on Monday morning, 50 people logged into LabCon from their homes and offices and got to work.
Shifting from an in-person meeting to an online meeting was a lot of work—especially for Stephanie and Jennifer. But it also felt like we had prepared for it for years. Lawyerist has always had remote team members, so we’ve been doing video meetings for a long time, including coaching, mastermind sessions, webinars, and workshops with Lawyerist Lab and Insider members.
Of course, we didn’t just throw people into a virtual chat. Even though we didn’t have a lot of notice, we brought our own vision to LabCon. Stephanie re-oriented the agenda around practicing during a pandemic. Jennifer deftly managed the video software, including sending people to and from online breakout rooms. And we put together a website home for LabCon with praise cards, materials, a directory, and more.
In the end, it went so well we may make it a regular event. We don’t think it replaces an in-person conference, but Virtual LabCon was a great experience, too. Just a different one.
We were thrilled to have the support of our incredible LabCon 2020 sponsors Smith.ai, GNGF, and LawClerk, all of whom played an active role in delivering amazing content and being on hand to answer the most pressing questions for our attendees!
Here are some of the key topics we addressed at LabCon.
We kicked off LabCon with a discussion of adaptation. It may take months for us to get to the point where we can go back to normal. And it’s not just working from home. The economy is almost certain to contract, and we may very well be in for a recession. We can’t just put lives and practices on hold for that time. Of course, we can’t just go on pretending it’s business as usual because nothing is usual. We have to adapt.
Even thinking about adaptation is an exercise in optimism. Which, yeah. We’re an optimistic bunch. We think you can adapt quickly and effectively to minimize fallout and capitalize on the possibilities.
Show That You’ve Got This
Perhaps the most powerful message you can convey to your clients right now is relax, we’ve got this under control by smoothly transitioning to video meetings, digital files, and whatever else it takes to get work done.
The more you can prepare clients for what to expect, the easier it will be to show them that there’s not a reason to panic. Instilling confidence with your clients that you’re here and ready to pivot with them will be essential messaging in these uncertain times. While it might seem like there’s plenty of adaptation on your end and that you don’t have it all figured out just yet, you can’t afford to display panic.
Take some time to share with your community how you’ll be changing things in your office in light of recent changes. Tell them the most effective way to reach out to you and what this means for any pending cases.
Be Ready for Remote
Many law firms were forced to consider going remote much faster than anticipated in light of the pandemic. As a result, this means thinking about your policies, people, and technology so that you can ensure a smooth transition and continue to serve clients at a high level as a virtual law firm. Our newest Lawyerist Lab coach remote working expert Maryellen Stockton led this session on how to evaluate what you have in place already and where you’ll need to make some adjustments.
Stay on Top of Your Finances
We launched a new tool with our Financial Scorecard to help you get an instant idea of where your firm stands and where you need to direct most of your attention in the coming weeks and months.
Lawyerist Lab members have access to this tool and were introduced to it live during LabCon; many already plugged in their numbers to get a starting point for the future. CTO Sam Glover and President/Coach Stephanie Everett walked Labsters through how to input their numbers and why knowing their financial KPIs will be so important in the coming months.
Delegating to Freelancers
In our session on outsourcing and delegation, Laura Briggs covered why you need to outsource, what kinds of things a solo lawyer can leverage to get some of your time back while saying in budget, and how to successfully screen and hire freelancers and independent contractors. Attendees learned about writing job descriptions, conducting interviews, and the keys to long-term independent contractor success.
Praise Board & Testimonials
One of the highlights of LabCon has always been our Praise Board, where attendees and staff can shout one another out for an excellent experience or insight. We took the Praise Board virtual this year but had many positive comments. Some of our personal favorites included:
- “Great job pivoting and putting this together.” Robert B.
- “All of the Lawyerist team- you rock! Way to make this happen and make it productive and useful!” Rebecca R.
- “Great facilitated discussions during breakouts.” Tyler I.
- “Great ideas from Sam, Emily, and Rebecca about scaling.” Dave S.
- “Labcon happened at exactly the right moment for me. Instead of panicking, I was together with a community of other lawyers who were focused on using this unprecedented time as a moment to strengthen their practices and explore new opportunities. The lawyerist team provided us with both realistic and practical guidance on how to make this happen in our practices.” Ryan M.
- “Virtual LabCon’s focus on pivoting my practice couldn’t have come at a better time. I finished confident, armed, and focused with a plan to adapt to the new market reality ahead of my competition.” Gary S.
- “LabCon helped with an actionable plan for the immediate crisis and for long-term development. The virtual meeting was a model for how we should and can deliver content and services to our clients.” Jennifer W.
These were just a sampling from dozens of comments about the support and insight provided in the main discussions, breakout rooms, and individual conversations that still happened in the context of virtual LabCon.
- Your clients still need you, perhaps more than ever. Projecting calm messaging and clarity on what they can expect and how to reach you is important.
- Your team might be suddenly remote, but that’s no reason to neglect your opportunity to build processes and plans for engagement with your team and clients in a virtual law office.
- To be recession-ready, you need to map out your current financial situation and look for all opportunities to make adjustments to safeguard you and your firm- Labsters can now use the Financial Scorecard as a starting point.
- You can’t do it all alone, and leveraging virtual freelancers helps you stretch your budget and focus on what’s really important.
Did you get FOMO reading over everything we covered in just 1.5 days virtually? Set up a time to talk with our Community Manager.
Thanks again to LabCon 2020 sponsors LawClerk, Smith.ai, and GNGF for helping us pull of a great event- we couldn’t do it without you!
Lawyerist is home to the largest online community of solo and small-firm lawyers in the world.
Through our Lawyerist Lab program, we work with lawyers to build more successful practices by implementing the ideas from our bestselling book The Small Firm Roadmap and our weekly Lawyerist Podcast.
Last updated May 14th, 2020.