Pivoting Your Legal Practice During A Pandemic – How We Did It
Over the past few months, we have all learned A LOT about what we are capable of in times of uncertainty. How we can overcome fear to be present for our families and friends. How we can show up, both professionally and as a friend, for our small business or entrepreneur clients. How we can adapt to new realities and rise above the noise.
As solo attorneys, we believe our community is vital. Together we are stronger. So, we asked a few Auxana Community Attorney Members to share their experience with us and how they have pivoted their practice during the pandemic or what they have seen change for the better. We were pleasantly surprised at the silver linings that shined through.
Beth Lebowitz | Founder & Attorney, Nimbus Legal | CEO, Auxana | Phoenix, AZ
“Looking back over the past few months, it is astounding how much changed and how much we learned about ourselves and what we are capable of doing. In the span of a week, those of us that are parents were working from home, helping clients navigate uncharted waters, and homeschooling. Crazy! As an outsourced General Counsel, I was used to working from home from time to time (as opposed to my clients’ offices), but this was a whole new experience. I started embracing the times when my daughter would walk into my home office while on a Zoom conference call. Hey – yes, I’m a mama and an attorney! I started being flexible with my schedule. Working early in the morning and late at night allows me to adapt to the day. Some days will be productive, and others will not. And the most important lesson is just that: each day is different; we must roll with it and adapt, put our best selves forward for our families, friends, and clients, and with gratitude and support for our communities. Not every day will be perfect, but we can choose how we react and impact others.”
Kerry Tassopoulos, Esq. | Dallas, TX
“The last 12 weeks provided several opportunities for me as a solo lawyer – and the overarching “aha” was how adaptable I can be with my work style and work hours. I suspect my clients and colleagues wondered why I was sending emails at 11.48 pm…. sometimes, that’s just how the day went. Being respectful of work/life boundaries is a key learning and one I’ll focus on going forward. The bottom line for me – if I am willing to try new approaches, new tools, new technologies I will probably be able to meet my client’s needs, and my own personal goals.”
Andrejs Bunkse | Of Counsel, Nimbus Legal | Founder, Rain Legal | Phoenix, AZ
“Despite the tragedy and anxiety that the coronavirus has brought us all, there have been some surprising green shoots – at least when it comes to my practice. The universal decision by governors across the country to designate cannabis enterprises as essential businesses has changed the perception of the cannabis industry. This move, done across numerous states, has shifted the general impression that cannabis may be short lived or a fringe industry. And as a result, revenues for all of my clients around the country have been record setting – with each month surpassing the prior month. Also, access to investment capital has considerably loosened – given the “safe harbor” that commercial cannabis provides.”
Mark Spitz | Spitz Legal Counsel, LLC | Denver, CO
“At the end of March I made calls to all of my current and most of my former clients (going back about 4 years). The point of the call was just to ask how they and their families were doing; I made no mention of ongoing or future work, but was just ‘checking in.’ As it turned out, some new work did come out of these calls. Also, I offered clients the opportunity to pay invoices in installments, which several took advantage of. During March and April, clients definitely put projects and other work on hold, but this changed as they got a better feel for the state of their own businesses and their customers, and were more willing to engage legal services once again.”
Mike Christopher | Christopher Law Group | Scottsdale, AZ
“The changes in the economy were certainly abrupt. Fortunately, since my practice is not tethered to a fixed location or firm infrastructure, I have been able to respond to client needs seemlessly and effectively, as no changes were needed in terms of IT capability, connectivity, or ensuring client security. Also, in terms of client needs, nearly everyone’s practice today is specialized, including mine, and I’m not sure I know of anyone who specialized in “pandemic response.” With a good segment of my practice being outsourced general counsel subscription legal, I regularly assist with more generalized corporate needs that don’t conveniently fit into traditional firm practice. As a result, I have been able to pivot quickly to providing urgent advice on issues like whether particular businesses were permitted to remain open (eventually encompassing operations in over two dozen states and several counties), onsite workplace requirements for worker and customer safety (which change almost daily), and several other issues such as the effect of the pandemic on a variety of commercial and corporate agreements. I am not sure how much of this will apply once there is a return to “normal,” but I do believe some of the lessons and adaptive skills learned will remain part of the culture at successful companies.”
Diana Palchik | Palchik Law & Consulting | Dallas, TX
“There is a trend that shows companies thriving due to being able to repurpose production to other products in high demand. For example, alcoholic beverage and perfumery producers are now selling hand sanitizer and even alcohol to other companies as a raw material. As the products are expanded or repurposed, they are accompanied by new trademark filings to protect the new product categories. For example, a brewery that had a trademark for beer might now file another trademark for hand sanitizer.
Other examples of such pivots include restaurants expanding into selling packaged prepared food meals and fashion clothing brands expanding into masks and gowns.”
John Leemhuis | Leemhuis Legal, PLLC | Denver CO | Erie, PA
“When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, my initial thought was that my business practice would suffer. I represent all sizes and types of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, but a portion of my practice includes working with the start-up community. And while that segment was hit hard, I was surprised by how many of my more established business clients were doing quite well (some, such as a chain of grocery stores, was doing historically well).
Much of my client work remained unchanged, including entity formation and acquisitions, but I also assisted clients with questions about PPP funding, and even explored possibilities of bankruptcy for the really hard-hit businesses. I cut down substantially on my business travel and face to face networking, but I was well prepared to work remotely and have determined to shift my marketing focus to more of an on-line presence.
I did fear that the work that really drives me – working with and assisting purpose driven businesses that value people and planet along with profit – would dry up as businesses circled the wagons and took care of the bottom line. But I was pleasantly surprised to see resilience in these businesses, and a renewed commitment by these business owners to look more carefully at how their businesses affect the broader community and environment. I saw a significant focus on employees and customers as the pandemic took hold, and a much broader dialogue about civil rights and municipal governance in the wake of George Floyd’s death. This later development hasn’t translated to changes in my legal work, but I anticipate that it will, and I am hopeful that it will be a change for the better.”
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity” –sun tzu
As we rethink the way we work, consider community, collaboration, and transparency with Auxana Inc.