The COVID-19 crisis has forced the world to change how it conducts business overnight. As we all begin to move forward together and reopen our doors, new priorities and practices are beginning to take shape. Some will change our interactions with customers. Some will alter our long-established processes. Nearly all will in some way affect our bottom lines.
New opportunities will undoubtedly arise—as will unfamiliar challenges. Those who keep an open mind will be best prepared to tackle both.
For most businesses, two of the most common challenges will be planning and funding. If you uncover an opportunity, how will you finance it? If you experience a challenge, where can you turn? Finding the right solutions to balance these potential changes to income streams will be essential, as will managing debt and cash in a safe and efficient manner. A crucial first step is having a banking expert on your side to help you map out your financial strategy.
If you’re just starting your legal career, or only a couple years in, this can be a daunting moment in time. But it’s important to remember that in all times of crisis, there will always exist moments of opportunity. You may be out of work, or furloughed. You may have just graduated and now face the prospect of navigating an up and down job market. Being as flexible and open as possible can give you a better perspective when opportunities present themselves.
The tips that follow are recommendations gleaned from our affiliation with the Orange County Bar Association and its members. Keep these topics in mind as you manage the beginning of your career.
Now is the time to branch out and go beyond what you currently know. Specialization may have initially been your top priority, but pushing yourself to become more well-rounded may be just the thing to open new doors. Also, continuous learning, especially during a crisis, can be critical to both short-term survival and long-term sustainability. Keeping current on the latest technology, techniques, research methods and financing keeps you in the game.
Pay close attention to what’s going on in the world, then be ready with new ideas for how you can fit in. If the Great Recession taught us anything, it’s that staying aware and being resourceful can take you places. Yes, things may appear messy right now, but looking for ways to help clear up the mess can position you as a person with new ideas and solid solutions. With more and more businesses going remote, cyber law may find itself pushed to the forefront. Counsel may also be required in the area of biotech as that industry continues to rapidly evolve and meet new demands. Also, with the amount of stimulus funds dispersed, abuse and fraud may end up in the spotlight.
Another option to consider is service—leverage your skills and knowledge to benefit those in need throughout your community. However, first make sure you have the financial resources to enable service without jeopardizing the practice.
It’s essential to remember you’re not alone in any of this. Many are facing similar situations—inside and outside of the legal profession. Make as many connections as possible. Speak with other young lawyers. Reach out to lawyers who are mid-way through their career. Build a team of support that encourages and challenges you to think differently, then be proactive with your network by actively participating in causes you and your colleagues are passionate about. This is another great way to keep those skills sharp, connect with mentors, and build an even bigger network.