The past year has set a very low bar for making this new year a better one, but three areas of strategy are inspired by my Chinese tiger mom’s words: “You are one of the luckiest people on Earth. Show grace, gratitude and love.”
The worst of the pandemic appears to be over. Infections from new variants may sweep the world in surge after surge, and COVID-19 has forever changed how we do business, but we have been through the denial phase, the surprise phase and the reaction phase. Now we’re in the getting-back-to-a-new-normal phase. So it is in law, and in businesses across all industries.
Sensitive to bar attorney marketing requirements, our firm distributes useful information. Immigration law differs from most other law in that it is billed by the contract. Even with the social media that marketing teams generate, referrals are a huge proportion of business.
Most senior partners in impactful law firms push their legal team to talk with clients more frequently to make sure they’re pleased with the direction of the case, answer questions, review the importance of honesty and integrity now — before getting to court, to minimize surprises — and at court. The happy client becomes an evangelist for your business, and that is doubly true in immigration law.
Enormous change requires grace. Take a deep breath. Pre-pandemic, life was furiously paced and fun. The legal team still travels, but to a lesser degree. Videoconferencing via the software du jour has caught on with immigration courts, with the internal law firm and with businesses around the world. Some businesses are meeting with clients in person, mask to mask. And while clients like to see our attorney on screen, lawyers find it distracting and, especially when conversation requires a translator, the phone wins out. Seeing just a pair of eyes is no match for the expressions that are formed from the combination of eyes, nose and mouth in an in-person, face-to-face conversation.
Immigration clients are primarily born speaking Spanish, Mandarin, Hindi and dozens of other languages. Bilingual radio shows still support that, but Facebook Live and podcast immigration Q&As are increasingly replacing traditional media. And live requires a single take.
To keep in contact with clients and show gratitude, a business can send out an annual holiday greeting card, which can initiate conversations, and following up with handwritten notes can keep those conversations going year-round. It can take a tremendous amount of effort but produce hugely successful results.
Love in business is also important. It’s all the people who’ve ever helped you. Love the people who hired you, and those who fired you. Those who stuck by you. Inspired by them, I’ve discovered a niche in philanthropy. That work has allowed us to touch so many foreign-born youth who need help in education, both in the United States and overseas. That work is so rewarding, both knowing that we are doing good that is confirmed with video or written notes from the many beneficiaries.
Happy New Year. Let’s drink to Grace, Gratitude and Love, 2022. ●
Margaret W. Wong is the founder of Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC