At LawSikho, we have developed a TWO pronged strategy that can help us not only survive this COVID-19 lockdown crisis but also help us, and of course, you, to come out stronger.
Your career and finance do not have to go for a toss, provided you work on things that are still in your control, if you keep your eyes on the prize, and definitely, work your ass off to beat the odds.
We have taken our marketing, sales, community activities and product launches to an altogether different level, despite all the obvious challenges.
We are putting in more hours at work, and focusing our energy in an ever sharper way on a crystal clear strategy.
And we know we will come out stronger and more resilient out of this crisis.
We have to survive now, but that’s not all we are aiming at. We know this is an opportunity to do things that ensure that we thrive, now and afterwards.
I am going to give you that strategy too.
And I believe, this unique strategy will definitely help you tackle this crisis powerfully, as a solo legal practitioner or a legal business owner, working in a law firm or a company as in-house counsel or a legal professional looking for excellence in your career.
But before I share it with you, is there anyone out there who still thinks that this will get over soon and you will come out of it without any scratches and bruises?
You are wrong, very WRONG, I am afraid!
I am mostly a positive person. But being positive does not mean burying your head in the sand.
You need to be realistic about what is going on right now. Your optimism is required to register and comprehend the risks and survive contact with reality.
Otherwise, optimism alone is of little use.
Things have gotten out of hand now. Even as we continue to work from home and try to adapt to this new situation that we are in, let’s first accept the fact that…
COVID-19 is reshaping the world as we know!
I know you are already thinking about it: will there be a recession now, at the heels of the Corona crisis?
As per the UN Trade Agency, COVID-19 is likely to cost the global economy $1 trillion in 2020, if not more.
Major countries that are being hit by the coronavirus outbreak are already facing another crisis: Recession.
With businesses shutting down, production stoppage, trade dropping to nil, rampant job losses and sudden inflation, the economic situation is not looking that favourable anymore.
IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva recently said that the outlook for 2020 “is negative — a recession at least as bad as during the global financial crisis or worse.”
She pointed out that while the world economy growth rate fell as low as 0.6 per cent in 2009, India and China were still growing at a rapid rate which made numbers look better.
Moody’s Analytics said, “A global recession is likely if COVID-19 becomes a pandemic.” And now Covid is such a big pandemic that we have run out of vocabulary to describe it.
However, the COVID-19 crisis is different and is all set to cause global economic and human carnage.
This will affect our economy as well. The lockdown is wreaking havoc on the Indian market already.
It is not just a recession, a lockdown means the economy is totally shut down! When it is restarted, how long will things take to even become functional?
That’s a different question. Let’s not get into that at the moment. Let’s talk about the legal industry.
What is happening with the legal industry? What can we expect in days to come?
Lawyers are in a weird place!
LawSikho’s COO and Co-founder Abyuday has already shared his early views on this.
We will tell you more today.
The good thing about the legal industry is that it is not actually shut down.
Lawyers can continue to do some of their work from home.
While going to court is mostly out of the question unless you have some truly super urgent matter, you can still do advisory work, you can do online arbitration if the arbitrators are willing to continue in a video-conferencing mode, and you can continue to draft or negotiate contracts.
One may argue that it is possible even to do legal due diligence through a virtual data room in such situations.
However, most deals are stuck or have been falling through as the uncertainty in the air makes businesses and investors take a pause.
Even the police are trying to refuse complaints saying that courts are closed! And that means people have to approach lawyers to get complaints lodged in urgent and serious matters.
While all such work can be done, where is a lot of opportunities being created?
As usual, every crisis creates work for lawyers. In the short term, medium term as well as long term.
What are the areas where work will be created in the coming months?
Contract review and advisory
In-house counsels are super busy right now going through major contracts and trying to understand the impact of the current situation. Many of these contracts may cause future liability and disputes.
They are trying to assess how to salvage the situation, and in some cases renegotiating contracts.
This is a great time to renegotiate contracts and even terminate some. If nothing else, they may need to give notice of anticipatory breach, or just advice to board on the future course of action.
They are also instructing law firms in some complicated high-value cases.
Most SMEs and startups do not have in-house counsels. They are going to rely on their outside lawyers to figure this out. Many of them may not even realise that they need such services.
It is high time you should start educating and counselling them about their legal options if these people are your potential clients. Do not try to make a quick buck here though, it is time to build deep and meaningful relationships, so if you have to go pro-bono or low-bono, a great time to do so.
It would help you a great deal later on. Relationships make or break law practices.
Approach your local trade associations or startups you know. Offer to help them in these difficult times.
There are many urgent arbitration matters that may be pursued, even if for the sake of an urgent relief. Some arbitrators are willing to hear these matters over video-conferencing.
There are others who are holding regular hearings. Most arbitration institutions have taken a pause and are not operating. Some of them could be expected to open up in a virtual mode in weeks ahead.
Negotiation and Mediation
There are a lot of breached contracts that need to be renegotiated and disputes that need to be mediated. Everyone wants to avoid going to court because litigation is lengthy and costly. Some lawyers can help to sort out these matters out of court.
In these uncertain times, businesses are ready to make some compromises for a quick resolution.
There are businesses that have cash flow issues and are not able to pay their dues. But they may be able to satisfy the creditors through some mechanisms about future payment, or just be able to pay up if terms are altered.
Lawyers will have a lot of work to do on such matters.
Arbitration and Litigation
Finally, and inevitably, there would be plenty of disputes in the long run that will have to go to court. Declaration of Covid as a natural calamity is not going to mean that nobody will take counterparties to court for various kinds of breaches and non-performance or deficiency in performance.
A lot of litigation may happen through virtual courts in the near future, making it even better for the younger and tech-savvy lawyers.
Filing, registry etc are definitely going to see a digital overhaul, and we can’t wait for it. Really overdue!
Insolvency and bankruptcy
Of course, some businesses will become insolvent temporarily, despite having a solid business model, while some others with weaker business models will go bankrupt. There would be plenty of work at NCLT for lawyers who specialise in insolvency and bankruptcy laws.
Dealmaking is not going away at all. Many companies with great balance sheets will now need a cash infusion, either in the form of debt or equity.
There are plenty of companies supplying to the healthcare industry or working for healthcare or other essential services that are making a killing in this situation. They will raise money, as debt most probably, to expand capacity.
There are tech and online media companies that are doing extremely well as well. Same for e-commerce companies. We may see many of these raising equity or debt funding in a matter of weeks or months.
This is good news for both investment lawyers as well as banking and finance lawyers who negotiate loan agreements and prepare securitization documents. You will be doing deals working from home.
M&A and consolidation
Lots of companies will become unviable or unprofitable and will be scooped up. We are already hearing about how Chinese investors have been buying Italian companies available in a fire sale in the stock market.
It may be good for these companies because deep-pocketed new investors will be able to make investments that are needed to tide over the current debacle.
But yeah, we are likely to see a lot of distress selling and consolidation in the market, again making the M&A lawyers very busy.
Employment law and data privacy
One obvious thing is that many people are getting fired, while others are being put under stringent pay cuts. What are they going to do?
Companies are seeking advice from their lawyers, so are the employees.
Some employers are employing devious methods to deprive employees of their benefits.
Others are simply falling short because they do not have the resources to comply with employment law mandates.
Some companies are asking employees to use screen recording and productivity tracking software that takes a screenshot of their laptop every 5 minutes to check if they are working and track the activity on their phone to ensure that they are not wasting their time while on their employer’s clock.
We can expect some moderate legal activity around these issues in the upcoming months.
Also, how can I forget?
Working from home, aren’t we? That makes our data privacy policies require a fresh look. Are we remaining compliant with stringent data protection requirements?
Also, some other policies like customer contact, social media usage, allowances etc policies may merit a relook in these unprecedented circumstances.
Greenfield projects and brownfield projects
This is a bit more long term.
After Covid is over, if government policies favour, many global MNCs would want to set up manufacturing bases in India in order to deleverage and diversify away from China, as, after Covid, it will be a top priority for them to develop alternative supply chains outside China.
If India can provide a stable economic environment and investor-friendly policies, India is likely to become a destination of choice for such MNCs because of the large local market.
Apart from new greenfield projects to set up factories, there will be investments made to beef up local existing production capacity (brownfield projects) by public and private investors as relying too much on China has become a very big strategic risk.
Lots of people will fall behind in payments. Some loans and dues will be negotiated, restructured and others will be in litigation. Money recovery lawyers will have lots of work in months to come, ranging from Debt Recovery Tribunal, SARFAESI, forensic investigation for debt recovery, civil and criminal litigation, check bounce cases, and a lot more. Eventually, insolvency and bankruptcy as well, if the claim is above 1 crore.
Four industries about to get reinvented
SaaS businesses, since they are digital in nature, would continue to grow over the next few years. The lower the need of face-to-face interaction, the better the future prospects of digital businesses. Digital transformation will get a fresh new push. Tech lawyers, gear up because tech business is going to scale new heights in short to medium term. If you don’t want to miss out on the action, start with this one month very short course: https://lawsikho.com/course/certificate-course-in-technology-contracts
If you want to jump in with both feet, then see this one: https://lawsikho.com/course/diploma-cyber-law-fintech-technology-contracts
Supply chain industry will gradually become more matured and primed to face any future threat, global or not. In India, logistics companies are struggling to operate in present COVID-19 conditions. Once this crisis period is over, they would go through a complete overhaul.
The post-coronavirus healthcare industry is going to be radically different from the pre-coronavirus industry.
Compliance process will get stricter, huge investments will start flowing in and new businesses will start popping up as well. So, with the rise in corporate activity, you can say that there will be a lot of demand for corporate lawyers in this sector.
Finally, the media and entertainment industry will have to reinvent itself too. Businesses that relied more on in-location entertainment and events will venture more into digital media and entertainment space to deleverage risk. Digital media and entertainment are likely to see a massive boom, new entrants and a huge demand for fresh content. All of this would keep media and entertainment lawyers busier than ever.
So does that mean all will be hunky-dory for lawyers?
Not at all. The short term and medium term looks increasingly bleak for a lot of lawyers.
During the 2008-9 recession, we saw well-established pricing norms of top law firms giving way, as clients invented new ways to cut costs.
Things never returned to the heydays of pre-2008 hourly billing and charging for the interns coffee ever again.
Several things happened. Corporate India and even foreign clients found out that they can push law firms on the price a lot and that there are lots of good firms that will compete with each other for the same piece of work.
They also realised that they can cut costs to a great extent by hiring the law firm associates and partners on their own payroll rather than paying the law firm and that it makes great economic sense.
And they also became willing to work with relatively new firms with lack of pedigree but a lot of willingness to push the envelope hard in order to win a client.
Big law firms did find other ways to survive and thrive, but they have never grown at the same breakneck speed ever again. From a time when law firms doubled partner count every year, we came to a time when the partnership size doesn’t grow by even 10% a year.
There was a time when law firms used to talk about building 1000+ lawyer giant firms in pre-2008 recession days. Haven’t heard anyone talk about that in the last decade.
However, that recession made it easier for new law firms in the transaction space and fresh faces in litigation. Because clients became more willing to take a risk, looked for a bang on their buck.
A crisis like COVID-19, or a recession, essentially accelerates the future. The incumbents on a rent-seeking mode suffer, while the upstarts with ambition, hard work, and preparedness get an opportunity for a coup d’etat.
What will happen this time around?
History would repeat itself.
Those who have invested already in networking, knowledge in the upcoming areas highlighted above, built a brand and worked the field, will now stand to gain immensely while incumbency will find it hard to keep things the way they used to be.
They would have to reimagine and reinvent themselves too if they are to survive. And given that many of them are run by smart, agile leaders with great foresight, some of them will even adjust their sails and thrive.
Hubris, of course, and change-blindness caused by ego will cause massive losses in an environment like this because the moats the incumbents thought they have built around their business models is shrinking fast.
If you are a young lawyer or independent practitioner, how can you survive and thrive?
I hope you have been investing in your own intellectual growth, branding and professional network, engaged with potential clients with a sound business development strategy, and developed skills that would now become the talk of the law town.
If you didn’t then today may be a good day to start.
You must have heard the popular Chinese proverb:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
You are probably sitting at home watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram and LinkedIn anyway. What about making it productive?
Please check out some of our lawsikho.com courses where we train hundreds of lawyers every month to deal with this environment and skills that would carry you through these hard times.
All that’s fine but how can I get more clients in this lockdown?
For one, getting new clients the old, traditional way is already out of question. You can’t go for meetings, you can’t meet them at conferences, you can’t call them to your parties. You can’t even meet them over golf if that was your thing. You can’t even do ambulance-chasing anymore, or stalk people in the court compound to see if they will give you a matter.
Then again, existing clients will try to squeeze as much work for as little money as possible.
Many clients are so cash strapped that they may want you to do work now and get paid later, with indefinite delay.
In fact, even that is something many lawyers are ready to put up with because they are sitting at home, with no ongoing work at all.
Getting internships and jobs will get trickier where employers would want experienced and skilled lawyers in their team — because now more than ever they have no resources, patience or time to train juniors especially when they may have to work from home for the next few months.
To rise out of this as a phoenix, you need to get creative. Need help with ideas? Read below.
How to get out of this crisis stronger than ever?
First things first, the only way to take care of such black swan events is to prepare your battle strategy beforehand.
How can you strengthen the immune system of your legal practice or your legal career?
We know there are three vitamins that help to boost your immunity in this context – upskilling, networking, building a brand.
You must have extraordinary skills. That can be developed.
And then people need to know that you have great skills and you have a track record of producing results. That can be developed too.
Finally, you need to have relationships – people who want to see you succeed. Those can be developed too.
If you work on these things, you will find that you are beating your own expectations, and the market by a huge margin.
To let you sail smoothly through the rough times ahead.
This is the strategy we followed too. Since last August, we have been preparing for a recession. We didn’t know when and how it would hit, but we started preparing.
Can’t believe me? Here is what I wrote in May 2019: https://blog.ipleaders.in/how-to-prepare-for-a-recession-proof-life-and-career/
Then we saw the economy slowing down further and wrote this in August: https://blog.ipleaders.in/impact-of-economic-slowdown-on-legal-market-what-are-the-areas-of-law-practice-that-will-get-hot-as-the-economy-is-slowing-down/
And finally, in September, I told our LawSikho community how to use the chaos of the economic slowdown as a ladder: https://blog.ipleaders.in/impact-of-economic-slowdown-on-legal-market-what-are-the-areas-of-law-practice-that-will-get-hot-as-the-economy-is-slowing-down/
And I was not only preaching, but I was also steadying the ship and bracing for an economic shock. So what did I do?
Firstly, we launched lots of courses that are recession-proof. For this, we focused a great deal in litigation. Especially courses like NCLT litigation, IBC, SAT litigation, civil litigation, trademark litigation were launched because we knew these will prepare our students for a changed economic environment.
We also launched courses and beefed up content for industries like media and tech which are least likely to be affected by a recession.
We even realised that when such a recession happens, many lawyers would decide that they want the security of a government job, so we hired a top-notch team to launch courses like judiciary training and courses that will help our students to crack other exams too.
So you can trust us that we were not shocked or caught unprepared when the COVID-19 shock happened. We are not only going to survive but thrive.
Yes, we take the same medicine that we prescribe to you.
It is important to see where the market is headed and prepare.
There are lots of things that are uncertain, don’t focus on them. There are lots of things outside your control, stop thinking about them.
There are some things that are certain. Such as, COVID-19 will disappear at some point and we will have to rebuild the world. Will you be leading the charge, or will you be in the last row, struggling to keep up?
There are some things in your control, starting with how you see this challenge.
It is a test. If you rise to the occasion, you move up a few levels.
Focus on what is in your control.
Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Focus on developing new skills. What new skills should you learn? Want our help? Call us. Here is the number: 011 4084 5203.
Focus on networking and relationship building. Help people and clients to tide over their difficulties using your skill. Do lots of pro bono and low bono work now, this opportunity won’t come back. If you help clients in their distress, they will remember you forever.
Develop your brand. Heavily rely on online content for that. Make videos, post on youtube and Facebook. Livestream on Twitter and Instagram. Write articles and publish in Livelaw, iPleaders blog and LinkedIn.
Once again, the tide will turn in some time, and we don’t know when, but it will. You can change the direction of your career with how you use this time. Take decisive action now.
NOTE: All of these are necessary for you to survive during this COVID-19 period and essential for you to build a long-term brand and customer loyalty.
Say yes to the work-from-home culture.
If you think you would shift to the old arrangement of ‘get your ass inside the office by 10 am’ once COVID-19 shutdown is lifted, think again.
In a 2-year Stanford study, work-from-home culture resulted in shorter breaks, lower sick days, higher productivity and improvement in attrition rate by 50 per cent. Even an Airtasker survey states that remote workers worked 1.4 more days per month than office goers.
This COVID-19 crisis has shown that work-from-home culture is possible and it might even result in higher productivity in most cases. Perhaps, it would be wise to integrate it permanently in your workplace.
Most importantly, the fear of spreading of the virus will remain even after lockdown is lifted, as the virus will take a long time to disappear.
Be prepared to work from home, run your business from home, and get clients working from home.
You have to run your teams from home too. It is possible. Find the software that can help you to do it. Find how you and your team can be more productive from home.
Build your digital presence for good.
The concept of building a digital presence is alien to most legal professionals and lawyers. Most of them do NOT have a website and for those who do, it seems like that website was created way back in the 1990s. Please make a sleek, professional website that helps you to convert more clients!
Not only that, but you must also work on optimizing your website for the search engines, prepare a full-fledged social media marketing plan and utilize video marketing to its fullest potential.
Too busy? Too bad.
We teach you how to grow your legal practice ethically in the digital age in our legal practice development and management course. Check it out.
NEED HELP? Talk to our experts by calling at 011 4084 5203 or replying with “Hi, need help with digital marketing strategy.” to this email.
Ready your virtual avatar.
The world is going digital, no doubt about that. If you want to survive and thrive in this new world, you have to visualize your business in a new, virtual light.
You are wont to working in a physical environment, interacting face-to-face with counsels, juniors, clients or members of other departments. But what are you going to do now?
Adopt a knowledge management system (KMS) to better align your business processes, whether you are a one-man army or you manage a team. You can use Slack for team interaction and collaboration, any Kanban Board for project management, and Time Doctor for remote monitoring.
Digitalize those services like contract drafting and management that can be turned into a digital format whereby you can cater to clients online.
You can run webinars and do your client meetings on video conferencing software like Zoom or GotoMeeting.
Instead of diaries or notepads, why not Evernote on your phone?
What I am trying to say is that the more virtually ready you are, the better you will be able to cater to your clients, both offline and online.
Embrace online education.
Universities are built for the benefit of faculties, not students.
Let that sink in.
I read that somewhere and it’s so true.
With massive fees that put people under debt for life just to get a degree, outdated curriculum, out-of-touch faculty and almost zero practical training, I would go as far as to say that traditional education is useless to meet today’s market requirements.
In India, for example, only two law schools made it to QS rankings – one was Jindal Global Law School, in the 100-150 bracket, and NLS Bangalore, in the 150-200 bracket. And you can see why!
NLUs are rent-seeking institutions which have engaged in no innovation for decades. They just lived in the reflected glory while the brand was diluted to death by opening dozens of new NLUs in every state.
It took a JGLS only a decade to convincingly trump all these hallowed NLUs that gloated too much and did too little work.
Needless to say, online initiatives like LawSikho (for lawyers and legal professionals), Simplilearn, Upgrad, Toppr and Imarticus are doing a much better job to help students and professionals upskill themselves continuously and even beat industry expectations which have been set very low by the terrible performance of bloated traditional educational institutions.
I can challenge you today that you will find it very hard to find a law school with the depth and breadth of courses that we offer, and the success we deliver to our learners while charging a fraction of what law schools charge, and taking up far less of their time.
And we can proudly say that we offer the most advanced legal courses I have seen offered anywhere in the world. It may sound like a crazy claim today, but we are at it, and we will be recognized for it in the years to come. It is only a matter of time!
If you want to keep pace with the latest industry developments and increase your employability in the next few months, online learning is the way to go.
If you are running a team and finding it hard to find the time and resources to train your juniors or trainees, give online education a shot. We have worked with fantastic law firms and leading corporations and delivered amazing results.
Why not just sponsor their subscription to such online education programs that will take over the huge responsibility of regularly updating course materials, keeping track of a student’s progress, conducting tests, providing practical insights by industry experts, and so on? Many of our corporate clients do the same for their own staff.
It helps them a lot.
And you still have time to book expenses before the financial year ends.
If you want a quick discussion about this, do not hesitate to talk to our career counselling experts by calling at 011 4084 5203 or comment below with “Hi, I am thinking of investing in my team’s training” to this email.
Adopt a value-oriented marketing approach.
Now, I am going to share a little secret right from the boiler room of LawSikho. I will first tell you what we normally believe in and practise, and how it perfectly ties in with the current economic situation.
We, at LawSikho, make it a point to never, never and NEVER start any interaction with anyone by selling our courses to them.
Our focus has always been on helping lawyers and legal professionals (like you) achieve their dream goal. So we start by adding value to them, giving away stuff for free, engaging in a conversation that helps them to visualize their future, find ways when they are struggling to find a direction, give them new ideas, critical information and action for opening.
At some point, they realise that our courses can help them on their journey. And they buy.
There is a point where we have added enough value to them, and they feel so. This is the sweet spot, where we need to hesitate to ask them to try out a course from us and explain how such a course can align with their ultimate goal.
If our course helps them to get what they want, we are very happy.
If they don’t want it yet, we will still root for your success.
For us, there are only two kinds of people: those who have done a LawSikho course yet, and those who will do it in future. We are not anxious to sell to someone right now.
The fundamental ideology behind LawSikho is “provide value first and as much as possible, and everything else comes later.”
Starting from the founders to our admin executive, every one of us follows this motto.
You see, this has become a must-have quality for every professional and business owner in current economic conditions.
We interact with hundreds of law students and professionals every day, and I can tell you personally that many are worried like hell right now.
How long will this drastic lockdown last? What will happen once this crisis period is over? What should they do next?
Why should they trust you in these uncertain times?
I will tell you that this occurs all the more when people are interacting from behind their computer screens or their phones. They would find it hard to trust you. They would find it hard to understand your point of view, howsoever right it might be.
If you are operating in a digital world, this is going to be the norm. The only solution to deal with this is to stop “selling” altogether and instead focus on providing value and building trust, and preferably a relationship first.
Chat with your prospective clients, share valuable content with them, help them in their journey, participate in online discussions and always try to help them. Business will roll in.
Invest in your career or your business.
At the cost of repetition, keep working on yourself relentlessly.
While you would probably have been doing it even in the pre-coronavirus times, but this has become extremely important now. Time to double down and put what you have into this.
Be scared where everyone is greedy, and be greedy when everyone is scared.
This is the time to buy stocks. This is also a great time to invest in yourself.
Flexibility. Efficiency. Competitiveness.
These three words matter a lot now.
While the rest of the world is panicking or chilling out on their sofas, you can use this free time to upskill yourself for what’s going to come next.
Turn this crisis into your turning point. You would come out stronger and more resilient than ever.
To survive and thrive, you would have to grow out of your self-pity and survivor mindset. You have to look for opportunities in this whole ordeal.
Talk to you soon.
To your success.
P. S. LawSikho is running hour-long webinars every day. Want to learn how to improve your learning skills? Prepare an LLM application to a foreign university? Career opportunities in new, upcoming areas of law? Don’t miss these high-quality webinars with industry and academic experts. Join our WhatsApp group to get instant updates on your phone.
P. P. S. Till 31st March 2020, you can enrol in your favourite course at its current pricing. From 1st April, the fees of all LawSikho courses are due to increase without further delay. Do note that we have enrolment for ALL courses available on our portal for the next few days, so that anyone who wants to enrol at the current pricing may do so. Even if you want to pursue the course, later on, it makes sense to book your slot today.
Following are the courses for which enrolment closes in 2 days:
EXECUTIVE CERTIFICATE COURSES
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