As the holidays come around, many lawyers are looking forward to a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle.
Even though offices will be closed for certain periods, law firms have to balance pressing deadlines, wrap up billing and collections, coordinate time off, and finish up outstanding cases. If all this work isn’t done, lawyers may find themselves working just as hard through the time of joy and cheer.
Don’t cancel your time off just yet! Some practical planning can ensure everyone gets that break around the holidays while also keeping clients and colleagues happy.
Why Legal Client Communication Can Struggle at the End of the Year
Law firms, like most businesses, are busy as the year draws to a close. They’re wrapping up cases, billing clients, managing overdue invoices, coordinating time off, planning holiday events, and more.
Naturally, communicating efficiently with both new and existing clients can end up on the back burner during this time. Lawyers and support staff may miss communications while they’re off or lawyers could lose track of important deadlines, jeopardizing the client relationship and firm’s the reputation.
Setting Expectations for Legal Client Communications Around the Holidays
If you prepare your clients for the time you’ll be closed or have key staff out of the office, they’ll be able to plan ahead.
Communicate Time Off and Office Closures
If you usually send holiday emails to clients, include a note about the holidays and any dates you’ll have the office closed for time off or holiday parties and events. If your firm has multiple attorneys, each one may want to send individual emails to clients to inform them of the holiday schedule.
Proactive communication manages clients’ expectations for communication as the holidays come around — a time that will be busy for them, too — and helps reduce any panic, frustration, or confusion if your firm or lawyers can’t be reached quickly.
Pro Tip: To automate your client communication, PracticePanther offers legal document management features to store your files and create custom templates. You can even use the intuitive client portal to send correspondence updates before the holidays so your clients can access them at their convenience
Update Your Hours on the Firm’s Website
Along with emailing clients, another important place to have holiday hours is your website and social media. Updating holiday hours on the contact page is a simple and straightforward way to let clients know about office closures.
Be sure to follow up by updating the hours on any applicable direct pages, such as Yelp or Google My Business. Just remember to update these hours once you’re back to normal hours.
How to Create a Legal Client Communication Plan During Holidays
Having a streamlined client communication plan during the holidays can bring order to chaos. Create a plan in advance to make sure no communication or important deadlines are missed.
While legal case management can’t always be turned off during the holiday. It’s important for lawyers to strategically plan ahead so they can enjoy the much-needed rest.
Try to give clients as much notice as possible about time off, changes to hours, or closures. This may include short reminders at the end of your emails to clients to prepare them for the holiday season. With PracticePanther, you can send automated reminders via email or with legal calendar events.
If you have a virtual receptionist or contact person for urgent matters, be sure to relay this information so they can properly support your clients.
Most of the law is built around deadlines. Lawyers have to manage court filing dates, the statute of limitations expiry dates, and more. All of these dates are critical to cases – if one is missed, it could lead to the court barring your case from being heard. Before taking time off, check deadlines and make sure everything is on track or delegate work accordingly.
Stay on Top of Law Firm Marketing
The holidays are a great time to take advantage of clients’ downtime. By automating your law firm marketing and lead generation, your firm can collect new business even while you’re away.
Of course, you don’t want to be posting on social media while you’re on vacation. Whether you have internal marketing staff or outsource marketing tasks, ensure you schedule out posts while your office is away.
PracticePanther also offers automated client intake forms that can be linked wherever your firm needs them. Ensure they’re on your website, email correspondence, and social media profiles.
Make Your Firm Accessible, Anytime
Law practice management software is a great time-saving tool to streamline your legal client communications, not just around the holidays, but year-round. With PracticePanther, you can seamlessly integrate your firm’s online payment options, legal documents, and calendars to stay on top of everything during the busy holiday season.
At the end of the year, collections may be coming up for your case wrap-ups or retainer clients. Plan ahead by automating your invoices and sending them to clients before you’re away with legal billing software. With PracticePanther’s OneLink, you can include custom payment links so your clients can pay online in just a few clicks. You can also enable the client portal where clients can access their stored payment methods and pay seamlessly.
Having a client portal is a game-changing benefit at the end of the year when your and your clients are available at varying times. The client portal offers an on-demand platform for clients to feel connected to your firm and access the correspondence they need without actually contacting your firm.
Final Thoughts on Legal Client Communication During the Holiday
The holiday season is here again. Law practice management software allows your firm to proactively get your ducks in a row without feeling overwhelmed. From managing your end-of-year legal billing and accounting to automating client communications — your firm can have your holiday cake and eat it too.
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