We are all working hard to accept and adjust to the fact that business is now being done in a new way. It’s strange to think that not so long ago the term “social distancing” was not part of our vocabulary. But there is good news – as it always has before, the law has adapted. Courts are creating new processes, the CRA is implementing new policies and deadlines, and lawyers have transitioned to home offices and continue to serve clients. The work is getting done but what about the social side of office life?

I think for many of us, relationship building and maintenance has taken a back seat to sorting out the smooth delivery of services (and home schooling, and groceries, etc.) However, now that we have settled into a new way of working it’s time to invest in these relationships and consider who you may have forgotten about.

Office Contacts

Start by thinking about the people you may have stopped and checked in with as part of your usual day at the office. Often this will include colleagues whose work may not have overlapped with your own at all; perhaps it is someone you passed on the way to your desk every morning, someone who shared your coffee break time, or the friendly face down the hall who always had the extra gum/highlighter/textbook you were looking for. It’s easy for these people to fall off your radar as routines change. Make a point of carving out some time to check in and have a chat as though you were still in the office. Everyone appreciates being thought of and these small interactions are an important part of daily life and work satisfaction. Now that you don’t have the excuse of running into each other in the elevator/kitchen/coffee shop, it might be a good idea to schedule reminders for yourself to reach out.

Client Contacts

While it’s likely you have been in touch with all your active clients, assuring them that service will continue and updating them on new impacts, don’t forget about inactive clients. These may be people that you would normally have caught up with over lunch or a drink after work so it’s important to ensure you don’t let the absence of these venues push this group of people to the back of your mind. A genuine check-in to see how someone is faring will always be appreciated. You can catch up about favourite Netflix series and perhaps also let them know about any new initiatives your firm or company has developed that may be of interest. This article from the American Bar Association contains advice on how to continue to develop business in this changing landscape.

Fostering New Relationships

Even though it feels like normal life is on pause, there are still new connections to be made! Networking is a key factor for successful lawyers and this is still true even though we find ourselves working in different ways. This article from Canadian Lawyer Magazine recommends joining online conferences, scheduling time for virtual coffee meetings, and taking on a new volunteer role (there are so many popping up right now!). Contributing to online communities is another way to connect with those with shared interests – and it doesn’t have to be limited to legal interests. You never know who you will connect with when you tap into new communities.

With these relationships in mind, take stock at the end of the week of the people you have had the opportunity to interact with; is there a category of people you are missing? Make a plan to check in with those people in the upcoming week. It will feel more like the “normal” you were used to, you will be continuing to grow your network and may even end up with a new skill to add to your resume.

Jennifer is a Recruitment Consultant with The Heller Group. She is actively involved in the recruitment and placement of lawyers into law firms and corporations. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys hiking with her two dachshunds.

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