If the pandemic has taught me anything, it is that everything and anything is possible through technology. As president of a small family law legal practice in Monterey Park, CA, I did everything traditionally. I found clients traditionally, retained them traditionally, and stayed within my traditional boundaries.
But two years into the COVID age, not only has everything become virtual, it has actually become a very positive thing. Not just in how I run my business, but in how I market Yang Law Offices to find future clients.
Naturally, the main difference in the technological landscape has been the introduction of Zoom. Before the pandemic, the main way to communicate with prospective and current clients was to have an in-person meeting, especially before retaining us. They would come into our office and we would do an initial consultation. They would sign a retainer if they wanted to proceed.
But everything has changed so much in the past two years that I have clients who I have never met in person. Isn’t that strange to think? We’ll talk by telephone or we’ll have a Zoom meeting or talk via some other communications platform. And the client will retain us without ever meeting us in person.
This change is not just in technology. It has changed how I have allowed myself and my firm to look for clients in other parts of the state, areas that in the past were too cost-prohibitive because of distance to pursue.
For example, we have been able to retain clients in the San Francisco Bay area. Before, it did not make sense to fly up to San Francisco just for a court hearing and have our client pay those fees. But now we can just hop on a computer and show up in a court hearing in San Francisco or Oakland or Sacramento.
Some ways of marketing the law firm have remained the same. I still count on referrals—and some of them are now coming from the Bay Area, making that adjustment pay off—and cross-referrals with other attorneys.
This is important when it comes to prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements. There will be an attorney representing one side of the couple. Since that attorney cannot represent both sides, we will be asked to come in and represent the other party. And that keeps us in good graces with the other party’s attorney.
But the power of technology should not be underestimated when clients are thinking of who to retain to best represent them. They will undoubtedly turn to the internet for reviews of lawyers and law firms. We make sure you can always find our positive reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. Having a good reputation online is very important and will continue to be so important.
There is one other important factor that I use to look for new clients, pre-pandemic and beyond. I speak fluent Chinese. Since my firm is headquartered in a heavily Asian area of Southern California, having a good reputation within the Chinese community really helps us put a solid foot forward.
There is a shortage of Chinese-speaking attorneys in the area. Having the ability to fluently speak Chinese very often makes or breaks the deal. Having the attorney speak the same non-English language as the client makes the client feel more comfortable. It can make it easier to communicate. In fact, sometimes the first question a prospective client will ask is, “Do you speak Chinese?” If we say, “No, we do not,” they will just move on to another attorney. So, yes, it is definitely helpful. They are definitely grateful.
And another good step technology has taken, while our online reviews are only in English, they can easily be translated into another language—say Chinese—via Google or a similar program. And since I am not the greatest when reading Chinese, if I get a long, difficult text from a client in Chinese, I can translate it via Google translate and just continue the conversation without missing a beat.
Continuing down the path of how everything has changed in just a short time, everything is done now by email. We require that our clients scan their own documents and email them to us if they don’t want to physically bring them down to our office. Sometimes clients do not have scanners. So, we are relying on a lot of technology apps—like Scannable—to scan documents using a smartphone.
As I look back at the past few years of my business—especially the pandemic ones—I did see one area of my marketing life sort of go by the wayside. Before the pandemic, I used to go to several business networking events in person. I would go to one or two networking events in a week. All that has gone out the window. Many of the events have stopped meeting in person. And now I just depend on word-of-mouth referrals to supplement that shift.
The pandemic has had some unique effects on the world of family life and family law. Because of the circumstances, the divorce rate has spiked and many relationships have found themselves in times of difficulty.
As this has given me more opportunities to market my firm, I have definitely been able to see positive results on this end. Business has increased somewhere between 20 to 30 percent over pre-pandemic numbers. We also now have a team of 30 members: 15 attorneys and 15 support staff, doubling in size during the pandemic. We hired all these new attorneys and new assistants to handle all these new cases.
While I am grateful for the opportunity to grow my law firm at such a perilous time in history, I am anxious—as are most—to return to simpler times. And with such a growth in technology leading our lives, I hope the lessons we have learned during the past two years will serve us well.
About the Author
Elizabeth Yang is the founder and CEO of Yang Law Offices, an intellectual property, business law, family law, and estate planning firm based in Los Angeles, CA.