Preparing for the New Normal: How Legal Can Survive & Thrive Beyond COVID-19? [Corporate Counsel]

  • April 30, 2020
  • by Haresh Bhungalia

The current situation is real and serious. If we all focus on the things that are in our control, there is a path forward that can help the business community not only survive, but also thrive.

Every day you read a new headline that details the devastating health, economic, political, and personal impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on our way of life. As I write this, we are in the fifth week of social distancing and shelter-in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all had to adapt to working remotely while we deal with the chaos of changing conditions and uncertain times.

The current situation is real and serious. If we all focus on the things that are in our control, there is a path forward that can help the business community not only survive, but also thrive.

Having successfully navigated my prior businesses through major challenges—such as the dot-com bubble burst, 9/11 and the Great Recession of 2008—I have made a number of observations over the years and learned some lessons I think can help us now. In light of the current crisis, I have also been reading current commentary on crisis management from some of our best business minds to divert my attention from the latest news cycles and focus instead on essentials like communication, employee needs, resilience, and being part of a broader solution. The lessons that follow may seem counterintuitive, but if followed, they may help your organization and our industry successfully navigate these difficult times and end up in a position of strength.

If You Take Care of Your People, They Will Take Care of You

Give careful consideration before making any staffing or salary changes during this time. The greatest resource a company has is its people. Employees represent a valuable investment of company time, money and resources. Whenever possible, your company should make the strategic decision to preserve that human and intellectual capital rather than laying off staff. While the common argument is to do more with less, that is not always sustainable over the long term. It can lead to low morale and burnout among your remaining employees. Keeping staff in place will also help you avoid “restart” time and be ready when business activity picks up. You will immediately be able to focus on generating new growth instead of having to recruit, hire, train and backfill old positions.

In addition, by supporting your people during this trying time, you will lift the cloud of anxiety that hovers over them while cultivating a deeper sense of loyalty and gratitude. Standing with your employees now will also pay dividends by allowing you to maintain your commitment to product and service innovation, which ultimately benefits your clients.

Focus on Operational Efficiency and Strategic Investments to Foster Scalability

This is a great time to dive deeper into business processes and systems to find ways to make our industry more efficient. Spend time with each department in your organization to uncover new ways to eliminate process redundancies and accomplish tasks more efficiently. For example, you can:

  • Implement new systems that provide better operational and financial reporting.
  • Revisit the roles and responsibilities of your teams to remove duplicative efforts—something that is often overlooked when a company is growing quickly.
  • Continue to make strategic hires where there may be gaps while identifying broader hiring needs.
  • Make additional investments in marketing and sales enablement.

Taking steps like these will allow your business to scale quickly and efficiently when the economy gets rolling again.

Focus on Accelerating Your Technology Product Roadmap to Stay Ahead of the Curve

Another key to surviving and thriving is staying ahead of the innovation curve. Despite trying circumstances, it is crucial to stay committed to your technology product roadmap and keep the momentum going as much as possible.

Continue to push out new code into production, even during these difficult times. When business is slower, we have a unique opportunity to focus on “nice to have” enhancements and new functionality that will help our clients produce better results. When you stick to your development timelines, your clients stand to benefit sooner as business picks back up.

Continue Fiscal Discipline

Strong operating margins are more important than ever today. You should always be looking for ways to streamline your current costs. When you are growing, it is easy to overlook expenses that may not be necessary. Now is a good time to take a closer look and eliminate excess.

Focus on improving your cash position by collecting on outstanding receivables and picking up strategic debits. This will allow you to weather this period and be on solid footing when the tide turns.

Even though it is easy to get consumed by the near term during a crisis, it is important to take the long view and be ready for what is to come. “Embrace the long view. Resilient leaders stay focused on the horizon, anticipating the new business models that are likely to emerge and sparking the innovations that will define tomorrow,” writes Deloitte Global CEO in “The Heart of Resilient Leadership: Responding to COVID-19.” Knee-jerk reactions today could have profound and negative impacts in the future. It will serve you well to find a balance between meeting the immediate needs of the current reality while looking to the horizon and planning ahead.

Support Existing Clients as They Navigate Through These Difficult Times

Remember that your clients, regardless of the industry they occupy, are likely facing difficulty during the pandemic, just as you are. Now is the time to stand with them and be the trusted partner they are looking for. Make sure to listen carefully and work closely with them to understand their business drivers and objectives. This will allow you to determine how best to add value today and as the relationship grows.

It is essential to be the bedrock that your clients can always rely on in order to help them succeed during these difficult times.

Guide Prospects and New Clients as They Modernize Their Operating Model

recent article in Forbes argues that the legal industry’s transformation to digital will be turbocharged in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. If it was not clear before the coronavirus, it has become clear now that SaaS-based technology is a key component of a modern workforce. It is important for us all to recognize that the right technology can give us the agility we need to deliver to current and future needs and help our clients make this essential transition.

Humanity Is Resilient and We Will Be Ready for When the Tide Turns

Even though all of this may feel overwhelming today, it is important to remember that time and again humanity has persevered during challenging times. We as leaders have to be the steady hand that guides during times like this. The current situation is real, and the health and well-being of citizens around the world is at stake. It is our responsibility not to let a health crisis morph into a long-term economic and social crisis. We must and will maintain the speed of business.

 

Originally posted on Corporate Counsel on Law.com.


Haresh BhungaliaHaresh Bhungalia is the chief executive officer of Casepoint, a global legal technology leader with more than 500 employees today. As CEO, Bhungalia enables growth and market penetration with a core focus on implementing robust business development capabilities and a scalable operating model, as well as customer engagement. Since his appointment as CEO in 2012, Bhungalia has been instrumental in the rapid growth of Casepoint and its reputation for customer satisfaction. He can be reached at haresh@casepoint.com.

 

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