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How Does the Coronavirus Pandemic Impact Bankruptcy Attorneys?

Stressed couple reviewing finances

Like professionals in many other industries, bankruptcy attorneys are going through a period of uncertainty — current conditions make it difficult to meet with clients, courts are closed, and nobody’s sure when life will return to “normal.”

However, they’re also facing a period when their legal advice and services are about to be needed more than ever.

Many individuals are dealing with financial hardship and businesses are facing a loss of income due to the shutdown, creating scenarios in which there is no recourse other than to seek bankruptcy protection. This means we’re more than likely to see an increase in filings over the coming weeks and months.

At Scorpion, our goal is to keep your firm in a position to continue helping people through stressful and uncertain times. To do so, we’re keeping a close eye on the trends surrounding the search terms that matter most to bankruptcy attorneys, and we’re also studying past economic downturns to get a picture of what you can expect over the upcoming months and years.

Here is a rundown of the trends we’ve noticed so far, as well as a look at some data that points to a strong rebound for bankruptcy attorneys:

Overall, bankruptcy lawyer search interest has increased 34% in 2020, and despite a decrease in the past two weeks, overall interest is still above average over 2019.

  • Daily search traffic for bankruptcy attorney-related terms is stable and consistent with previous trends.

Google Trends chart showing interest in bankruptcy attorney-related search terms with a rise in late February and then a dip

  • Foreclosure defense search interest has seen a rise since mid-February.

Google Trends chart showing interest in foreclosure defense-related search terms with a rise since mid-February

  • Conversion rates and cost per action are remaining steady due to lower advertising costs.

    • Cost per action refers to the amount an advertiser has spent on each user who takes a desired action after clicking an ad — requesting a consultation, downloading an infographic, etc.

  • Geo-specific (e.g. “San Diego bankruptcy attorney”) and DIY bankruptcy searches are up.

  • Searches for “personal bankruptcy attorney” have increased 400%.

Proactive attorneys can use this data to answer an important question: Should I still be spending money on law firm marketing during coronavirus? Cost-cutting is often a necessity in situations like these, but now is not the time to eliminate your marketing budget. People are still looking for legal help online, and particularly for bankruptcy specialists, taking yourself out of the running could lead to even bigger problems down the line.

How past recessions can predict future demand

With a boom in unemployment claims and high levels of stock market volatility, many experts are predicting an economic recession similar to late 2008. So, what can data from the last recession tell us about possible future demand for bankruptcy attorneys?

By analyzing the graphs below, you can see that a decrease in the national GDP coincides with a sharp spike in searches for bankruptcy-related terms in 2008 and 2009.

Bar graph showing a dramatic dip in the national GDP during the recession

Source: https://www.nber.org/papers/w16334.pdf

Bar graph showing rise in the bankruptcy serach index in 2008 and 2009

Bar graph showing average annual bankruptcy filings before, during & after the Great Recession

Unemployment filings have also been an indicator of demand trends for bankruptcy attorneys. They nearly tripled from 2006–2010, and with claims currently breaking records, several signs suggest a large portion of the population will be experiencing some degree of financial hardship moving forward.

What does all this data mean? To put it in high-level terms, there is likely to be a spike in demand for bankruptcy attorneys’ services as this pandemic continues to affect the economy.

One thing to keep an eye on: As officials attempt to contain the virus with court closures and relieve financial pressure with new policies, your clients could experience extended timelines or complications regarding their eligibility for governmental relief. Help potential clients understand their options and set realistic expectations as they move through this stressful period.

What should your firm be doing now?

History says bankruptcy attorneys should expect to be busier in the future, but what can they do now to prepare? Putting these tactics into action will encourage potential clients to keep a positive impression of your firm as they await outcomes and weigh options.

Maintain your marketing budget if it makes financial sense for your firm. Since some attorneys are reducing or suspending their campaigns, you’ll face less competition — in terms of bidding for ad placement as well as making an impression on potential clients. When it comes to long-term success, maintaining a strong local presence is the best way to keep up the reputation you’ve worked to build.

Invest in building your firm’s brand. While leads might not be coming in at their usual pace, now is the perfect time to build awareness with your target audience. From social media to online video, there are plenty of opportunities to reach potential clients who are spending most of their time at home. While not as many of your prospects will be actively searching for an attorney, making your target audience familiar with your firm means they’ll have someone in mind when the need for legal help does arise.

Be a resource for your clients and community by creating relevant, educational content. Your audience is currently conducting research, and content that answers questions they might have about their legal situation can go a long way to put their minds at ease and embolden your firm’s reputation. It’s important to remember that people are looking for help — not a sales pitch. Of course, the ultimate goal is to drive business, but the idea here is to establish value in hopes of conversion down the line. Content that comes off as salesy and attempts to “leverage” concerns surrounding coronavirus will have an adverse effect and most likely be received unfavorably by your audience.

Take advantage of this time to address any “housekeeping” tasks that involve your marketing and intake process. For example, you will want to make sure your Google My Business page is up to date so potential clients know when your staff will be answering phones.

Everyone at Scorpion strives to be a resource to help you better serve your clients and protect your practice during these challenging times. For more helpful COVID-19 guidance, continue checking our resource page for newly added content, or contact us directly if you have any questions.