Looking Back at 2020 and 2021 Outlook: Q&A with Kluger Kaplan’s Alan Kluger
By Kluger, Kaplan, Silverman, Katzen & Levine, P.L. December 15, 2020
Q: The transition to remote work has been tough for many firms, especially when it comes to maintaining a firm culture. How has Kluger Kaplan been able to adapt so well to these sudden changes?
AK: Not being together in the office is a challenge because we have such a family-like culture. Kluger Kaplan is the type of firm where it is common for people to sit down at someone’s desk to just talk about things other than law. However, since going fully remote in March, we have been successful in finding opportunities that have allowed us to continue many of the practices that created such a strong firm culture.
We still have virtual charity fundraisers where everyone from the firm is invited. In past years, we have always hosted a big firm holiday party. Unfortunately, while we are unable to safely be together in-person for the holidays this year, we are working on hosting a virtual New Year’s party. It is important to keep these events and maintain our firm’s traditions, even if we cannot be together in person.
It’s also essential that we keep our close personal connections while working remotely. My legal assistant, who has been with me since 1987, and I still talk every day. We also have an amazing law firm administrator – Laura Klein – who is constantly in touch with the staff. She knows right away whenever someone is having problems and is ready to coordinate ways to help. We are all dealing with different things at home while still servicing our clients to the best of our ability. Communicating and staying in touch is really important, especially during a time like now. This practice has allowed us to successfully move forward with our clients’ matters while also building new relationships within the firm.
Additionally, mentoring is engraved in our firm’s culture, and I believe that in some ways, our mentorship has even improved since we went remote. With Zoom and other virtual platforms, it is much easier to schedule time to talk with someone. You can easily pick up the phone without having to rush into someone’s office or set time aside to meet in-person. As a result, our attorneys have had more time for mentorship now than ever before.
Q: How has the pandemic affected the firm on the business side?
AK: The transition to a remote environment has been seamless, but there was a major adjustment at first. We equipped all staff members computers at home and our IT team made sure that everybody had the capability to work remotely without missing a beat thanks to advanced technology.
Our firm has worked on matters around the country, from New York, Texas, and California. Interestingly, since everything is being done virtually now, we have seen an increase in inquiries from people outside of Florida who are looking for legal assistance with their cases. Operating remotely has expanded our firm’s reach and has provided more time for our attorneys to move client matters forward as well as take on more cases. Our firm has grown as a result, and we’ve hired two lawyers this year alone.
When you’re a litigator in high stakes cases, you also become an advisor. Since working remotely, our attorneys have been spending more time to talking on the phone with clients and meeting virtually.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in terms of work-life balance?
AK: I’m used to working remotely because our firm has been a paperless company for years. However, since the pandemic, the line for work and personal lives has been blurred, and many lawyers are working seven days a week. I try to maintain the same schedule every day: I get up, work out, and eat breakfast before starting work. At night, I disconnect and make sure that I make time for my wife and family.
Litigation is becoming fiercer because people are essentially locked into their office. As a result, cases are also moving faster because we have been saving time commuting with the use of Zoom hearings.
Q: Looking ahead, what’s on next year’s agenda for Kluger Kaplan? Do you anticipate any new trends heading into 2021?
AK: We’re bullish on litigation. Similar to the 2008-09 economic crash, I believe we will see more litigation that relates to people and businesses that have suffered economically. As I mentioned before, we have had a lot of new business this year and we will continue to focus on growing our national reach now that everyone is remote.
We are also focusing on marketing and expanding our digital reach. There has been a lot of new business and we have received calls on multiple occasions from people in other counties who would normally hear about firms by word of mouth (at breakfast meetings, the gym, etc.), but are now turning to Google since there are no longer in-person events. This is also why social media is becoming more important since that is a medium that many people are now using to stay engaged.
As for returning to the office, we’re not in a rush. We have been able to work remotely seamlessly and will continue to do so until it is safe to return to the office.