portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson

Resilience  has become a big buzz-word in the business world during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the legal services industry is not immune from it.

But what does resilient leadership look like in a law firm? How do the leaders of a law firm -- both the titular ones and the de facto ones -- successfully guide their organizations through bad times?

This article, first published in Walker Clark World View in 2015 and updated for the current crisis management context, offers six actions to build resilient leadership in a law firm. Remember, the goal is not just to get through the current storms, but to emerge from them stronger than before. To do this, everyone in a legal services organization -- but especially in law firms -- need to deal with some very disquieting questions.

public domain image

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has introduced social distancing as a basic business practice.

We also need to master the skills of business intimacy. 

By Jonas Petersson (UU) - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64608056

Take good notes.

Document everything.

Effective crisis management involves more than just good planning. It also is a valuable learning experience.

iStock image licensed to Walker Clark LLC

The March 9, 2020, issue of Bloomberg Businessweek contains a practical strategic checklist to "make your company disaster-proof-ish."

The nine steps listed in the article apply with full force to law firms -- especially small and midsize ones. It should be required reading for every law firm managing partner.

The Gale (1883) by Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910)

An very important article published in 2014 by the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, reminds us that resilience has become a critical strategic asset, which enables businesses to respond successfully to rapid changes in their markets. The observations and commentary in Process Resilience Is Becoming a Business Imperative deliver solid advice for small and midsize law firms that are currently confronting the still largely unknown challenges of the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. 

This World View post, updated from 2014, emphasizes that resilience is more than an overused management consulting slogan. It is hard work, but essential if a law firm wants not only to survive a crisis, such as the impacts of COVID-19, but emerge stronger than before.

Winslow Homer, After the Hurricane, Bahamas (1899)

The world-wide COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak has forced many law firms -- especially smaller firms, which usually are most vulnerable -- to make business continuation decisions in what has become, in some law firms, a near-panic environment.

This updated version of a Walker Clark World View article from 2014 offers a basic checklist for law firms to review their planned responses.

The most important point is that even if your law firm has never had a plan to respond to the effects of an epidemic on your business operations and the ability of your firm to meet your clients' changing needs, it is not too late to make serious business continuation planning your firm's top priority.

Your firm has decided that you should open a new practice area or expand an existing one.

You have the lawyers that you need to deliver a credible service to an increasingly demanding legal market.

What else do you need? 

Consider this case study.

The Poverty and Social Development Committee of the International Bar Association plans to publish later this year a sequel to Poverty, Justice and the Rule of Law (International Bar Association, 2013). Walker Clark LLC is supporting this project, and we welcome submissions from lawyers who are active in efforts to combat poverty and promote social development in their communities.

Image by Christopher John SSF from Stroud, NSW, Australia - 20110422_Mumbai_043_Gateway_of_India, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37305880

Here is the March 2020 issue of Walker Clark's reading list of recent news and commentary for lawyers and law firms that are interested in the Indian legal market. 

Click here to view and download the March 2020 issue in PDF format.

Appalachian Mountains licensed by Walker Clark LLC from iStock

Walker Clark principal Norman Clark has just published his first full-length novel: Into the Endless Mountains.

We promise: the words profitability, fully-loaded operating cost, and strategic planning do not appear anywhere in it.