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Criminal Defense

[Video & Q&A Recap] How Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Endure COVID-19 and Build for the Future

Kevin Smith, Marketing Manager at Scorpion, and Jonathan Dichter, founder of DUI Heroes, discuss the impact of coronavirus on criminal defense firms. Jonathan has committed himself to become one of the most well-respected and well-renowned DUI defense attorneys in Western Washington. Learn what Jonathan has to say about COVID-19 and how pushing your business forward is still a possibility.

Watch the video, or read through this quick recap of the key points Jonathan covered in the discussion.

Interview Summary

Kevin:

What is COVID-19 doing to criminal defense firms, and how have you seen this affect the industry as a whole?

Jonathan:

  • We have to adjust the way we do business – we are working from home.
  • We are adapting the way we do our work and using the current technology to meet with our clients.
  • We are finding we can communicate with courts differently as well – (in Washington state) the courts are shut down until the end of April, but they are still working. As defense attorneys, we are still here working; people are still getting arrested and going into custody.

Kevin:

Are you still getting calls for DUIs? And of those DUI calls, what's the tone of voice with people on the other end?

Jonathan:

  • We are not getting as many DUIs, but they’re still coming in. However, my jurisdiction is unique in that they are behind on filings. This “slowdown” allows them to get caught up. Peoples’ cases are now getting scheduled, and it’s starting to pick up.
  • The tone of voice of clients calling? They are functioning the same. They are scared about their ability to drive, their job, etc., but the overarching concern, even more so than ever, is budget.
  • They have LOTS of questions on payments, a lot of people aren’t working and don’t know when they will have work again, and buying power is affected.

Kevin:

In your experience, what other types of cases should criminal attorneys expect to see more calls for?

Jonathan:

  • I think there will be a massive spike in domestic violence cases, theft, specifically petty theft (groceries, food), drug crimes (people will be looking for an escape)
  • And when life gets back to normal, expect a spike in DUIs.

Kevin:

What are you doing to help your current clients through this?

Jonathan:

  • Best things you can do for your clients right now? TALK to them. Be open about flexible plans – be in constant communication regarding payment plans; offer a lower or postponed payment for them. Be willing to work with your clients’ financial position.
  • Don’t forget we are literally in this together.

Kevin:

As an attorney specializing in DUI defense, what should a fellow DUI attorney implement immediately in their practice operations to make sure they stay profitable?

Jonathan:

The best advice I have is to use this time wisely. Use it to evolve as a practice (not business as usual):

  • First, make sure everything is under control – audit your files.
  • Start working ahead – start prepping things.
  • Review your infrastructure:
    • Day-to-day logistics
    • Big picture / managerial scope
      • Build your brand.
      • Revisit your marketing strategy.

Kevin:

Being confined from home, how are you managing communication with your team?

Jonathan:

We use G Suite, and three times per week, we get together via Google Hangouts. I email an agenda the day before – cases, status, department of licensing, what came in the mail, do you need office supplies, etc.? And a well-being check – how are you doing? We also send a daily commitment [a priority task to complete] outside of our daily activities.

Kevin:

In an ideal world, you're meeting with your clients face to face, what best practices are you implementing to sign up clients today?

Jonathan:

We use zoom or Google Hangouts to meet with our clients. Often my clients have preferred it and feel more comfortable meeting that way. It does allow more opportunity to be casual, which is good because nothing in this world is normal right now.

Closing thoughts from Jonathan:

One piece of advice for other attorneys – don’t forget this will end. When it ends, you have to ask yourself the question, am I going to be in a position where I need to start rebuilding and picking up the pieces, or can I use this time now to solidify and build something to springboard and go forward.

There are only two ways to respond to this crisis as a criminal defense attorney. Either you are reactive to everything, or you are being proactive and using this time to continue to market, brand, push for clients, and continue to work for those clients, building a reputation.

Moving Forward with Your Firm’s Strategy

If you are looking to take Jonathan’s advice, then use this time to revisit your marketing strategy and brand.

Contact Scorpion today and let us help you take control of your situation by positioning yourself during this crisis to grow your business for the future. You can also visit our COVID-19 resource page for attorneys for more helpful information.

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