Law firms, like many other businesses, have transformed during the lockdown and changes are evident. Here are some lessons learned along the way and hopefully they can be helpful for legal practitioners in the future.
As we continuously go through, come out of and (at the time of writing) may possibly go through the lockdown again, every business has had to grapple with new challenges. Whilst some legal sectors have remained active, others had to cease operations.
The government’s decision to proceed with “maximum caution” in attempts to ease the lockdown could only mean law firms have to struggle even more. Lawyers are forced to work from home and avoid being in public if at all possible.
2020 has completely taken us aback, but we managed to adapt – overnight. The uncertainty of the future of working life will continue to haunt us, but working from home came with these lessons and it’s clear that:
- Almost all work can be done remotely. From client meetings to Court hearings and even preparation of Court bundles for trial is possible – you just need a stable Internet connection and a strong #legaltech app like CoreMatter to get things going.
- Most items deemed essential are very well not! Printers, stationery and even meeting rooms – in this case – are no longer prerequisites for the job as well. You can do away with it because (as the lockdown suggests) they are not always necessary.
- The stigma is not really attached to working from home anymore. This is because everyone is free to admit that they are working from home (since it’s not that we all have a choice anyway, isn’t it?). People are not really changing virtual backgrounds that will hide away their home surroundings, and even dress codes have become much more relaxed.
Effects of lockdown on lawyers and legal firms
Lawyers who practice in sectors that remain active will have their business carried out as usual, but for others, lockdown is a unique opportunity to try something new. Activities like writing blogs, conducting webinars and building up business development skills will prove helpful in the long run.
Working from home is definitely here to stay, which will really change the course of any job in the near future. Every law firm would have been adaptive to the home environment by now – with working from home, cloud computing and video calling becoming the default arrangement. It’s likely that offices will only be meant for socialising or to bring projects to completion. That is why investing in a legal software could prove useful for the firm, whether or not there is another lockdown being suggested.
Tips for legal services in the future
Moving forward, the uncertain future for lawyers will have definitely changed. It’s already made known that technology, the economy and the market for legal services are changing rapidly. Some important tips:
- Cash flow is vital. You should continue to review your cost base, whether or not you’re cutting down or reducing fixed costs.
- Negotiate flexible contract terms. Keep your costs as flexible as possible, from office space right down to your mobile phone payment plans.
- Maintain personal contact. Although this is easier said than done during this era of social distancing, still, try to speak to people rather than sending an email. Human interaction is still important and especially beneficial to your mental health too.
Regardless, the pandemic has reinforced that there are certainly no cookie-cutter solutions – period. Reassess your law firm’s core values. The strengths. Learn from the lessons and be rest assured that there will be value added to the client’s journey along the way, again.
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