We talked to Caroline Francescato of LinkLei on how the legal social network connect the legal world to generate opportunities and business and the following is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Caroline Francescato: We are doing well, thank you for asking. Thankfully, we have been fortunate to have the ability to safely work from home. Our companies truly believe in practicing social-distancing and encourage everyone to take all necessary precautionary measures to stay safe.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded LinkLei.
Caroline Francescato: I graduated from Law school in 2016 and, as soon I decided to start my own business. I opened my first law firm in my hometown, CF Advocacia, which specialized in Family Law, and worked there for three years. This experience opened my eyes to many challenges the legal world faces on a daily basis, such as the difficulty of creating an online presence, acquiring new clients, and networking with other lawyers. This led to the founding of LinkLei. LinkLei is the first legal, social network, of which I currently hold the position of CEO.
How does LinkLei innovate?
Caroline Francescato: LinkLei is the first legal, social network here in Brazil. We simplify digital marketing for lawyers, connect them with opportunities, and help them attain new business.
Brazilian lawyers have a lot of restrictions from the Brazilian BAR Association in respect to advertising. At the same time, the legal industry is lagging when it comes to technology and the digital environment. Our company helps Lawyers be a ‘’digital lawyer’’, giving them an online presence, connecting them with potential clients, and ethically promoting their services.
How do we do this?
We are the only social network with a gamification system in which the more active a user is, the more visible their profile is. Also, their profile can be customized as a website, with three different layouts. We also provide them with tools for their legal practice. For example, they can easily hold online meetings on LinkLei.
In addition to all of this, we provide them with easy access to legal knowledge. Users have access to legal articles, international webinars, discussion boards, legal news, and other social networking tools.
LinkLei currently has more than 12,000 users. Our number of active users has increased substantially during the pandemic. Lawyers realize that they have to adapt and get into the digital environment in order to succeed and gain more clients.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Caroline Francescato: Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a major impact on our finances. In fact, the pandemic affected our investors, which forced us to look for new investments. However, we did not have any trouble finding a new investor, as the demand for digital products has greatly risen since the start of the pandemic. At LinkLei, we have also created new products, which have generated new sources of revenue. One example is LinkLei Academy, an online, international, educational project with the mission of providing lawyers beginning their careers with lessons that are practical, convenient, and certified.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Caroline Francescato: Yes, we did. We learned that nobody was completely prepared to deal with a global pandemic – especially the financial and mental health aspects. Even with cash on hand, it is impossible to know how long the pandemic will last. Laying people off is always difficult, even more so when you are in the middle of an economic crisis. We did everything in our power to retain all of our employees. Prior to the pandemic, we had plans to expand, but we were forced to implement a temporary hiring freeze and adapted to work with scarce resources. It was a challenging time, but it was important to us to be forward and transparent with the team. We did our best to listen to their concerns and address them. Unity and empathy have been among our core values throughout this moment of crisis.
In March 2020, we made the decision to begin having the entire team work remotely. Being a digital platform has allowed us to make a smooth transition to remote work. In fact, the transition has been successful to the point that we do not currently have any plans to return to an office. The lockdown forced us into this experiment of working remotely, and we have not missed a beat. One bright spot of this situation is that we currently have less overhead expenses than ever. This has allowed the business to thrive.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Caroline Francescato: Our relationship with the customer has always been digital, so we did not have to make a lot of changes in this area. We use Freshworks as a tool for our customer relationship management.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Caroline Francescato: No, we did not. LinkLei is being both kept alive and built from our own efforts, and I am beyond grateful for both the LinkLei team and community.
Your final thoughts?
Caroline Francescato: First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to talk about how we, at LinkLei, are innovating the world’s largest legal industry.
Brazil has more than one million lawyers, and our country has the most law schools in the world (more than 1,500). I regularly speak with lawyers from other countries, and a recurring topic is how the legal industry is lagging with respect to technology. Many lawyers have missed opportunities in their area due to this lack of knowledge. When we suddenly had to lockdown, all of the courts needed to close, and they had to deal with technology – which they were not prepared for. Undoubtedly, it has been an extraordinary challenge for the legal industry. The pandemic has forced law firms, lawyers, and judiciaries to implement alternatives to traditional in-person collaboration that will hopefully endure long after the virus subsides.
Fortunately, I am not afraid that the pandemic has certainly changed the way to work within the legal industry. Even universities and how the law is taught has been forced to adapt. I am extremely happy that LinkLei has already had the ability to help lawyers deal with all of these challenges. Without question, the pandemic has brought many changes to the world, and, fortunately, it has helped a technological revolution begin within the legal industry.
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