IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT…Post-Pandemic Law Firm

The last few years have been crazy, haven’t they?

And law firm owners – like business owners all across the globe, have become forcibly versed in the “Pandemic Pivot.” Never before has the sink-or-swim mentality been more relevant or necessary for law firm viability. For almost two years, it has been “Pivot, or Perish,” in steroid mode.

A few weeks ago, I attended the PILMMA Super Summit in Washington DC. The Summit was originally slated for the Ritz Carlton Hotel in New Orleans. But between Pandemic numbers soaring in Louisiana and the convergence of Hurricane Ida’s fury in a head-on trajectory for the Big Easy – PILMMA pivoted to DC for its yearly Legal Marketing and Management Super Summit.

Thus, I found myself in the nation’s capital (walking the same streets as the angry mob that had stormed the capital earlier this year – but THAT’s a story beyond the scope of this blog, definitely.)

Back to the story…Whenever I’m attending a Legal Conference – especially PILMMA’s Super Summit, I can’t help but feel the excitement and expectation in the air. It’s almost palpable. I’ll be honest here – At least for me, there is a special magic when one is surrounded with your “tribe”- a host of like-minded lawyers. There’s the inside jokes and jargon and the shared challenges that are universal to business owners everywhere but with unique twists respective to law firm owners. At the Summit, we’re a club of our own, with each attendee there for the same purpose; to gain the cutting-edged secrets that will enable them to reach their ideal clients, stand out from the masses of other law firms in their markets, and sign MORE CASES.

It’s the shared pursuit of the proverbial goose and golden eggs and I love it. No lie. As I sat at a round table in the back of the ballroom on the first day of the Summit (secretly wishing for New Orleans beignets and Drago oysters) I wondered just what this year’s DC conference would bring. I couldn’t help but look around the room; We were a resilient and determined group – masked and hand-sanitized and ready to hear the latest strategies that would catapult our firms to greater success.

I grabbed my legal pad and repositioned my mask. Again. (Secretly wondering if anyone would notice if I just took the darn thing off since I was fully vaccinated anyway) Herd morality prevailed, and my mask stayed on. Once the speaker began, I realized that I was in the right seat at the right time and hearing the right message – one that richly resonated and gave me tremendous food for thought and opportunity for application to the world of law firm marketing and management:

Mark Schaefer, author of such bestselling books as Marketing Rebellion and Cumulative Advantage, laid bare the reality of the post-pandemic world we are now operating in; To paraphrase, Mark stated emphatically that – It’s the end of the world as we know it. Or, in other words: the new normal is now the here-to-stay normal. So, we’d better get used to it, embrace it, and leverage it, when it comes to how we manage and market our businesses.

Mark started by sharing a profound observation about life and business. That the breaks in the fault line create opportunities if we have eyes to see them. The pandemic has been the globe’s historical fault line. It wrought horrific damage around the world, costing many lives – over 700K in the United States alone. It also brought dramatic changes to our way of life in innumerable ways. It changed how and where we worked and played, how we shopped, how we interacted with friends, family, peers, staff, and neighbors.

For law firm owners, it meant a frantic move to Remote operations. And even now – many businesses, including law firms, continue to employ staff who are working remotely or in a hybrid remote status. And for most of us, the pandemic “fault line” also meant a tremendous increase in time spent online. I certainly spent more time online. I bet you did, too. And so did your ideal clients….

Statistics show that once the first phase of the Covid 19 pandemic set in, people spent far more time than ever online and on all social media platforms. They also spent far more time and money – as digital consumers evaluating and purchasing goods and services. According to Pew Research, technology became a lifeline for many during the covid outbreak, with:

90% saying the internet became essential or important to them personally, and

40% saying they used digital technology or the internet in new or different ways compared to before the pandemic began.

In a recent survey from global marketing tracking company WARC Data, digital consumer consumption rose by more than 30 % in the last year- and Tik Tok overtook FB in terms of user engagement (with a 38% increase in 2020, according to Statists.)

For Gen Z and, to some extent, Millennials- Mobile Gaming is HUGE. These users spend more time there than on social media platforms like FB.

Importantly, Deloitte Digital’s data shows that more than 70%of these users are open to advertising to reduce the costs of games…

According to Deloitte Media’s recent research- 55 Percent of Gen Z and 66 % of Millennials now say that ads on social media are influential.

And here’s another interesting trend: According to Google, there has been a “surge” of searches related to “Near me”- with a whopping 20,000% increase in “support local business” searches!

According to Schaefer, things will NOT return to normal. In his assessment, the pre-pandemic “normal” is a thing of the past. In fact, he went so far as to say he will NEVER rely on data compiled prior to the pandemic when it comes to evaluating consumer trends and societal norms. I’m not so sure I’d go that far, but I’m sure that the necessity of a robust online presence is more important than ever. The belief that there has been a societal shift to even more time spent online resonates with my own observations of where we’ve arrived, post-pandemic.

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