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In It Together: Client Meetings Using Video and Document Signings

 

• How Heinz is using Microsoft Teams for client meetings (and their surprising response)
• Getting documents signed during COVID-19
• Advice for attorneys now working remotely

Recorded: April 3, 2020
Interview: Heinz J. Brisske, Huck Bouma, PC, and Valerie Peterson, ElderCounsel

Heinz J. Brisske is an attorney at Huck Bouma, PC in Wheaton, IL. Illinois is currently under stay-at-home orders so everyone is now working remote. The estate planning group at the firm is tight nit and typically meet often when they are in the same office together. They now participate in group meetings using Microsoft Teams. It’s part of the Microsoft 365 program. The meetings have up to 20 people participating and the group is still able to communicate together. Everyone in the firm, including staff, use Microsoft Team.

Communicating with Clients with Microsoft Teams
Using Microsoft Teams has become the hub for communicating with clients. It allows them to schedule a client meeting, sends the clients reminders with the meeting details and has alternative ways to communicate with them if the client doesn’t have a microphone and/or webcam. Communication with clients has stayed opened and accessible to everyone. The only hiccup is when there are documents to sign which we’ll touch upon later.

Having the process in place is critical when communicating with clients so we are prepared for their client meetings. Clients have had a great response to video conferences and are now asking why haven’t we done this all along? They understand there is a whole new world to take advantage of and going forward, this practice is going to change as a result of this crisis. We’ve crossed a bridge and there will be a lot of professionals and clients not wanting to go back to the old way. Video meetings will be a huge benefit to clients that travel 1-2 hours to get to the office.

Document Signing
One process we tried to put into place was drive-up signings. The client drives up, stays in the car, the witness and/or notary stands near-by but at a distance, and then we complete the signing. It worked well when there were just amendments to sign, but any larger document this process wasn’t ideal and problematic. Another way for document signings is to put a table outside with all of the documents laid out on the table to sign, but it didn’t work well with the breezy day. The best solution is to combine the two: have the documents in a marked binder that is outside on a table. The clients then sign the documents while we are at a safe distance away. Once they are done signing, they go back to the car and then the witnesses and notaries sign there that they need to do. Illinois does have an emergency order in place for virtual signings, but that’s hard to do since part of the order is that the client has to hold up page-by-page so the notary can see it so that will take a lot of time and be problematic so we are going to stick with the binder on the table process for now.

Advice for Solo and Small Law Firm Attorneys
Heinz’s advice is to not stop. Don’t stop marketing. Don’t stop talking with clients. Don’t cancel anything. Postpone, reschedule, just don’t cancel so you can keep your office going. If you have a client base, stay in touch. They need to know that you care and that you are there. The personalized touch is so important right now.

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