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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Facing fear

Facing fear


Vanessa Ugatti explains how firms can take a confident approach to the financial uncertainties 

We are still very much in the thick of the pandemic and there is only one thing which is certain, and that is uncertainty.

As we enter the final quarter of 2020, I do not envy law firm decision makers for the tasks ahead.

There are many things to consider, not only financially but also from the perspective of mental health and wellbeing, including staffing costs, premises, professional indemnity, billing, how to continue managing and supporting staff working remotely.

How can you better navigate this seemingly unmanageable and movable feast?

Over the last six months many firms have risen admirably to the challenge of moving their entire operations from being office based to remote working and have continued not only to provide an excellent service to their clients, but also to maintain billing.

However, the duration of this unparalleled state of affairs means you may feel exhausted by the constant battle of having to juggle so many things, not to mention the ongoing uncertainty.

The key to coming through and moving into smoother waters will be a willingness to continue taking swift, decisive action and be equally prepared to take new actions in future, as the situation determines.

Because who knows what will transpire in the coming months?

There are a few simple yet crucial points to keep in mind:

  • You and your staff’s mental health and wellbeing must be a top priority.
  • Stay alert – not only to covid-19 but to the general changes that are happening so that you can respond rapidly.
  • Stay calm. 
  • Getting stressed and anxious will cloud your judgement. 
  • Make decisions quickly based on the information available to you at the time.
  • Keep the emotion out of it.

That sounds pretty obvious, right? Yet as human beings, decisions are often made based on fear which are then likely to result in disaster. 

Ensure that your fee-earners are competent and confident in charging their true worth, billing clients and then getting paid, on time.

It is so easy to get sucked into the drama of what is going on and then be tempted to discount or over service clients.

Competing on price normally means a race to the bottom.

This is not a business model I subscribe to, since it is both unsustainable and demoralising.

There is always someone who charges less, so why be that person or that firm? You must stand firm; know your worth; and avoid ‘fear pricing’.

In my workshops, I often share my take on fear as it’s so important not to be hampered by this emotion.

When fear is in control, it can be paralysing and cause you to bury your head in the sand.

But when you face fear it loses its power. Its loss is your gain and you ‘rise up’. 

So instead of the usual meaning, my ‘FEAR’ stands for ‘face everything and rise’.

The key to overcoming fear is always to take well thought out action.

It then becomes increasingly easier to overcome it. It probably feels uncomfortable, but that’s ok.

As I am often heard to say, ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’. Finally – and this is something people often fail to do – praise yourself on a daily basis.

This is an excellent tool for building confidence and makes you feel good.

If you don’t do it, who will?  

Vanessa Ugatti is the author of True Worth, available at