The Remote Law Firm

​Our firm has been remote-based since 2008. We've been doing virtual meetings with our team internally and with our clients for years now. We are familiar with the current tools to be remote, like Zoom, I have the Yeti microphone, have the ring light and green screen. We are proud to say that Artesani Bookkeeping is a future-ready accounting firm.

But many of our law firm clients are new to this type of technology. We have supported them to get their accounting up-to-date. But law firms are notoriously known for paperwork and some antiquated workflows and systems. They are slow to adapt. Some of our Zoom meetings with our customers are done with the staff using their phone and calling into Zoom. When this pandemic sent them home to remote work, many of our law firm clients had to call the IT guy to set up the staff with VPN's (Virtual Private Network) and a setup VOIP or forwarding phone systems so they could receive calls from home.  

Some more great tips on other aspects  of  a remote firm can be found in this article By Nicole Black, "How to Create a Remote Working Plan for Your Law Firm".

Tools for a remote law practice


The number one thing to keep business going during this pandemic is you need to get your head wrapped around doing video meetings. You want as little friction as possible. A smooth meeting without technical difficulties. We don't know how long this new way of working is going to be happening. I realize not because everybody is a tech-savvy guru, but video meetings using the tools are not difficult anymore.

Tips for successful remote at home business meetings

  • Camera  Invest in a good camera. Positioning the camera is key! No one wants to look up your nose or at your ceiling.
  • Noise  If you have a noisy household, it is polite to put your ear pods on.  It will reduce background noise.  Here is a link to a good headset. Get a good microphone.  I use a Yeti.
  • Background  Make sure you have set up a proper background. While it is fun to use a good green screen and be creative with the backgrounds, they tend to look unprofessional when you move your hand, and it disappears, you have that glowing line around your body or even worse if you have something green on your shirt and your background shows through. I suggest setting yourself up in a functional space. Look around your house for a professional background. Do not use your bedroom or host a business meeting (heaven forbid) from your bed. 
  • Lighting   If the window or light is behind you, you will be a washed-out silhouette. I have a window behind me in my videos, but I have an ample ring light in front to eliminate wash out. You can find a good ring light here.
  • Program  Virtual meeting programs are abundant. There are so many out there from Zoom to Google Hangouts to Uber meetings. Pick the one that works. If your law firm uses Microsoft teams or Slack they have a setting for turning on the camera right from the call feature.
  • Settings  There is a comfort level of staring at your face when doing a Zoom meeting (Tip: there is a setting in a video called "touch up my appearance" -- see picture below -- that takes away blemishes and wrinkles), but once you do every day all day, you get past that. Test it, for example, where you put your camera? How do you look and sound.  
  •  Dress for Success. The big joke is dressed up on the top half and party on the bottom.  But it is true.  You need to not work from your pajamas.  Yes, you can wear yoga pants.  On a Zoom meeting, now one will know.  However, it is also good for the psyche. 
  • Practice  Look into the camera (which takes practice). I actually have a small teddy bear from my son hanging over the top of my computer where my camera is. It is easier for me to look at the bear than the camera. Many times in a meeting, if you have it set to gallery view and you are sharing your screen, it places the live screen of the viewers to the right side of the screen. Looking at the camera will be better for the meeting for the client.

In Summary

Positioning your camera, getting good lighting, a good background, use a headset if you have a lot of background noise, are the core tips. You don't have to be tech-savvy as it is pretty easy to get the pieces needed to do a video conference, mostly plug and play! But the number one tip is to get your camera up to eye level. I have experienced some video meetings with people on their laptops and I am staring into their nostrils (thank you Dell for such a wonderful placement of your camera!).

I believe that when we come out of this pandemic, many of the ways we work will change. There is much value in being face to face if you can do it well. If you think you are going to do this more long term, having an excellent background at night just the brand of your law firm and the image you're trying to portray to your clients becomes super important. If you have a picture of your office, you could use that with your logo, so you brand that as your background. Just be sure to test it.

Help from my Assistant



My assistant, Audrey from AVA Power UP, is hosting a free webinar on Tuesday, where she will be available to answer questions about hosting remote meetings and about backgrounds and any other questions you may have regarding remote work. 


WHEN: Tuesday, March 31st
TIME: 10:00 AM PST
WHERE:
Zoom 

Connecting

If you're connecting with a client, you will be able to read body language and for them to be able to see your face. To provide exceptional service, sometimes a video as a follow up instead of an email will help your client know that you empathize with them, that you care.

Even when hosting a meeting with staff, you must show that you have taken the time to organize your meetings and be professional.  Keep that sense of team even though you are all miles apart. Maybe think outside the box about something team building. It can be lonely working from home.  See this post from last week that will help calm the nerves.  

The Future

The elephant in the room is there is going to be an economic impact as a result of this pandemic. Restaurants and other businesses have had to close. Attorneys may be asked to help when it comes to assisting with the ramifications of this. Will you have to reduce your billable or hourly rate? Maybe this will have your office rethinking even billing a client hourly? This may be the time to move to a subscription-based practice so that your fees are more affordable, and you can help your clients get through this. Now more than ever, is it time to think like a leader and take charge of your firm and practice. Look at your offerings. Make that move and become a rockstar of your profession. Your clients may be in crisis right now. How can you help them? They still need peace of mind, and they still need a resolution.

While there is uncertainty about when things will return to what I am calling "the new normal," we can take action to keep our staff focused and reassured that their jobs would remain intact, that they will be paid, give them some love and attention at this time. Send them a virtual hug. Help them feel less isolated. Give them a high five if they do something you are grateful for.

In Closing

Next week I will give you the financial steps to survive these weeks while we hunker down at home. Join our Facebook group,                            QB Community Live, as we are sharing some great content with pdf's and videos from some of the accounting industry thought leaders.

If you need help from me directly, I would be happy to. Reach out. Even if you just want to chat. I am more than happy to listen and guide the best I can. We are in this together and will rise stronger on the other side of this.

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Lynda Artesani

Lynda Artesani is the president of Artesani Bookkeeping where she uses her expertise and organizational skills to help her clients thrive and become profitable. Lynda is a member of the Intuit Trainer Writer Network. She is an alumni member of the Intuit Advisory Board. Additionally, she is the first Expert Columnist for the QB Community forum. She is also a co-founder in a Facebook group called QB Community Live!