Thoughts on Navigating a Law Firm (Coronavirus) Crisis – continued.
Experience tells us that crisis in law firms can happen fast. Once presented, its consequences can race past leadership’s ability to effectively respond and leave a firm reeling. Whereas crisis traditionally caused by lawyer departure, client loss or revenue decline has often been predictable or foreseeable, today’s law firm crisis by pandemic was, for the most part, unexpected. Whatever its genesis, to overcome crisis leadership must communicate clearly and credibly.
Communicating in crisis must be prompt but also thoughtful. Finding a quick solution to crisis is critically important but a “ready, shoot, aim” approach to navigating a firm’s way out will almost always prove harmful. A firm’s people will rely on every word said so creating a sound solution first before deeply substantive messaging is essential. If a plan has not yet gelled, a communication that says a comprehensive plan is in the works is better than touting a half-baked plan that subsequently falls apart. Crisis seldom allows for “do-overs.”
Once deciding on a solution, telling and selling the path back to stability must be consistent and believable. Disparate messages delivered by uncertain and confused spokespersons will do more harm than good. It will destroy leadership’s credibility. And, because credibility is so vital in crisis, nothing is more important than consistent and truthful messaging.
The breadth of law firms experiencing crisis due to the coronavirus is, by every measure, unprecedented. For firms feeling the pandemic’s impact, beating crisis presents a multi-level challenge. In meeting that challenge, the role of communication should not be overlooked. It is enormously important.
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