For businesses in nearly every industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a slew of challenges ranging from supply chain disruptions to employment issues to regulatory confusion.
And while poor economic times have often meant challenges for the legal industry as well, there are certain practices that tend to thrive during chaotic times. For example, there’s been a purported uptick in work related to litigation, bankruptcy and restructuring, insurance, employment law, and technology.
By leveraging competitive intelligence software to track and analyze the current events in these areas, your law firm is more likely to be prepared to support existing clients and uncover new opportunities.
Below we’ve outlined examples from just three industries, highlighting potential legal needs arising from the pandemic.
Healthcare: Working Capital Needed
In Nashville, TN, where healthcare has long been a booming industry, hospitals and other healthcare providers have worked diligently to prepare for and manage the wave of patients sick with COVID-19. At a minimum, that work has consisted of seeking regulatory approvals, making staff changes, and assessing the risk of practitioners falling ill with the virus while taking care of patients. Simultaneously, outpatient surgeries – often the bread and butter of revenue for some of these providers – were cancelled for a time, leaving providers suffering financially.
The Nashville Business Journal reported in April that “Nashville-Based HCA Healthcare Inc., the nation’s largest hospital operator, announced its senior leadership would take a 30% pay cut until the pandemic subsides to avoid layoffs.” Wendy Long, president and CEO of the Tennessee Hospital Association, told the Business Journal that Tennessee hospitals are losing about $1 billion a month.
It’s a good example of how, from a law firm’s perspective, work doesn’t always emanate from the obvious place. While insurance, compliance and employment law are all pertinent areas for hospitals (and even more so during a crisis than during “normal times”), bankruptcy, restructuring, and finance needs also are critical during this crisis.
Hospitality: Contract Disputes on the Rise
McKinsey released a report in June that estimated it could take hotels until 2023 to return to pre-COVID levels. Both personal and work travel are down year-over-year, with Smith Travel Research announcing in March its projection that that revenue per available room, a key metric of success for hotels, would drop a whopping 50% this year. These financial tribulations mean hotels and other hospitality companies are constantly having to assess and reassess access to cash, working capital, marketing plans, and health and safety regulations.
It also has major implications for contracts. JD Supra published an article in April outlining key areas of disputes for companies operating in the hospitality industry. At the top of its list? Hotel management agreements. JD Supra had some advice for companies operating in these conditions:
- Analyze contractual clauses allowing for the suspension or modification of contractual obligations
- Review insurance and debt finance agreements
- Establish early communication and adhere to any contractually mandated notice requirements
By digging into the more detailed impacts of COVID-19 on this industry, your law firm is positioned to proactively reach out to current clients, particularly those for which you’ve already been involved in drafting contracts. Combining external knowledge with a full understanding of internal efforts could lead to new opportunities with current clients.
Automotive: Big Data Requires Legal Guidance
We’d venture to say that most of us aren’t thinking daily about how the virus is impacting the automotive industry, aside from the knowledge that we are personally driving less while working from home. But Accenture reports that the automotive industry is suffering from a perfect storm stemming from manufacturing shutdowns, supply chain disruptions, a drop in car sales and a subsequent lack of liquid cash. The consulting company notes that in China, two thirds of automotive production capacity was impacted by the country’s shutdown.
One way the industry can respond to this crisis? Invest in Big Data. As Accenture notes, automotive companies should “evaluate the risks and create full transparency by using big data, intelligent systems and connected ecosystems. This communicates shortages or other challenges to all points along the supply chain so they can prepare, adapt or adjust accordingly.” Big Data also can help a company better understand its consumers, uncover marketing opportunities and inform “predictive quality analytics.” As Deloitte notes, “Applying advanced analytics across the manufacturing value chain will generate exponential vale.” And in times of crisis, it could help avoid some serious risk.
Where there is Big Data, there is a legal need. From data protection to intellectual property rights to privacy regulations, each of these areas could create opportunity for manufacturers and their law firms alike.
Above, we’ve outlined just three examples of industries facing challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with an eye toward thinking about some of the secondary and tertiary impacts. Understanding and analyzing potential challenges to this depth requires an ongoing competitive intelligence effort within your law firm that combines curated, external information with insider knowledge. Your firm can utilize competitive intelligence and competitive intelligence software during a crisis to:
- Create current awareness during busy news cycles by distributing topical newsletters to major firm clients
- Monitor the health of companies that operate in the same industry as your clients, regardless of whether you think there’s an opportunity to win work.
- Uncover secondary opportunities through analysis of operational impacts (uncover everything you know about the company and match your firm’s services to potential needs)
The industry-specific ramifications of the COVID pandemic re certain to be felt for some time. By leveraging the right competitive intelligence tools, the legal industry is poised to best help their clients when they need it most.