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As the coronavirus outbreak evolves, attorneys are working hard to continue serving their clients while observing social distancing protocols. We have put together the following law firm website and video chat recommendations to help lawyers communicate their availability and keep clients updated during this difficult time.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to present significant challenges and disruptions to businesses and individuals across the US and the world. We urge everyone to follow the public health directives of federal, state, and local government offices, and to take all necessary precautions to minimize their risk exposure as we navigate this novel and difficult situation. Resources and updates about the coronavirus outbreak can be found at the CDC website.
In addition to mitigating the community health impacts of COVID-19, many business entities are working around the clock to continue providing necessary services to the people who depend on them. Lawyers and law firms are no exception, with legal professionals going the extra mile to communicate with clients and ensure that they remain as available as possible during this emergency situation. Toward that end, we have assembled a few recommendations for attorneys looking to connect with their clients and help them stay informed as circumstances evolve relative to social distancing policies and other public health matters.
Three Recommended Updates to Your Law Firm’s Website
If your law firm is open for business, even from attorneys’ homes, we recommend three action items to inform clients that you are available for consultation.
1. Add a webpage about your firm’s response to the COVID-19 virus.
This webpage should state first that your law firm is open for business and explain how you are serving clients by telephone, video chat and conferencing, or other methods. In addition, you may want to use the template below and provide answers to questions such as the following:
We are closely tracking the rapidly evolving public health and community concerns related to the new coronavirus or COVID-19. Rest assured that we are taking all available steps to remain accessible to our clients as we continue to act in accordance with their best interests during this difficult time.
Please see below for answers to some frequently asked questions, and feel free to reach out to us any time at [email address] or [800-000-0000] for assistance with your legal matter.
- Is your office currently open during normal business hours?
- When and how can I contact you?
- What video chat platforms do you offer for clients?
- Are you accepting new clients?
- How can I get updates regarding the status of my case or legal matter?
- Are courts of law still open in my area? Will my court date be rescheduled? What if I can’t come to court because I’m sick or quarantined?
- Will scheduled depositions, mediation, arbitration, or settlement negotiations occur as planned?
Again, please feel free to reach out to us with questions at any time, and see the links below for CDC, state, and/or local updates regarding public health orders, court operations, and other information.
Court: [local court COVID-19 order URL(s)]
2. Add a strip across the top of your website linking to your COVID-19 page.
This strip should ideally be at the top of every webpage on your website, but at a minimum it should be at the top of the home page. It could have text such as “COVID-19 Update: How we are serving and protecting our clients.” Or it could have similar text that links to your COVID-19 webpage.
3. Add a sentence or two on the home page that links to your COVID-19 page.
This sentence should state that your firm is open and describe how you are protecting clients and their interests by way of video chat or conferencing, phone calls, or other means. There should also be a link here to your COVID-19 webpage for more information.
Video Chat and Conferencing
Finally, if you use video conferencing to connect with your staff or clients, we recommend using Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom. If you are a Mac and iPhone only office, we also recommend Apple’s FaceTime. We provide a brief description of these and other video chat and conferencing services in our recent blog post on Free and Low Cost Video Conferencing Solutions, along with links for downloading the software and instructions on how to use the different services.
As a technology company with five locations, we primarily use Google Hangouts, which works great. But we have also used these other video chat and conferencing solutions, and we have been happy with all of them as well.
Adding Video Chat Offerings to Your Justia Lawyer Directory Profile
We have added a feature to the Justia Lawyer Directory that allows attorneys to let clients know that they provide video chat or conferencing services by including this information in their directory profiles. We have added more fields for these video chat services, as well as a video chat badge for your profile and a video chat search filter. If you do offer video chat services, we recommend that you log in to edit your directory profile and update the video chat/conferencing section. You only need to have one video chat service offering to be included in the video chat filtered results, although we may later allow filtering by specific video chat services.
The video chat services currently listed in the Justia Lawyer Directory are as follows: FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, BlueJeans, FreeConferenceCall, GoToMeeting, Join.me, Lifesize, Microsoft Teams, RingCentral, UberConference, WebEx, and WhatsApp. If you offer video chat or conferencing through another application, just let us know what it is, and we will add that one as well.
Keeping Your Clients Safe and Up to Date
We encourage you to do whatever it takes to keep yourself and your community safe during this difficult time. Meanwhile, we are committed to helping you minimize the disruption to your business caused by the pandemic, and to helping you remain available to your clients to the greatest extent possible while following social distancing protocols.