If we look at history, the legal sector has been reluctant to catch up with change. However, an utter need to change has begun to rise slowly, with new entrants entering the legal services market. Moreover, client expectations are growing, making law firms and departments consider an overhaul of their business model.
Nevertheless, the speed of change has been slow until the COVID-19 outbreak occurred last year. The social distancing guidelines and remote working policies have accelerated transformation.
Legal organizations would have spent years implementing change, but last year, we saw things getting changed within weeks. Many law firms adopted the concept of providing online legal services. However, to understand the actual situation on the ground, let’s read what experts have to say about it
Therefore, let’s read what experts say leading legal industry changes now and after the pandemic.
1) Be Prepared for Rapid Changes
Justin A. Hill, CEO at Hill Law Firm- Any leader in the legal industry must take into account the shared experience of your staff, clients, and industry and adapt to address all of those constituencies. Specifically, at our law firm,
- We have been open and involved with the judiciary in crafting plans to address the current pandemic.
- Also, we are openly discussing which of the innovations should become long-term adoptions by the industry.
- The most important thing for attorneys is to remember that our system of justice must be maintained within whatever constraints exist.
I think the pandemic taught us a lot and created rapid changes. Those changes will be available for any future need.
2) Normalization of Work from Home
Nance L. Schick,Esq., Chief Resolution officer at Third Ear Conflict Resolution –One of the first pandemic changes I’d like to see continuing is the normalization of work from home, at least where it makes sense for clients, employers, and employees. This, of course, comes with some challenges, such as:
- Complete conversion to paperless offices
- Increased cybersecurity audits, training, and maintenance
- Ongoing training on software, time management, and effective communication
After much resistance to complete conversion to electronic files, the pandemic forced many heavily-papered firms to get online. There’s still time for those who have made some improvements but have a backlog.
- Most importantly, we need to embrace ongoing training as part of our work.
- Dedicate time to improving our technology and leadership skills.
- Learn how to recognize when to say no to the latest tech tool, magic fix, or shiny ball.
- Try to communicate that effectively, yet compassionately.
- We must listen better for what clients, employees, and others need, so we can identify how to best serve them.
3) Minimizing business interruption is key
Stewart J.Guss, Personal Injury Attorney at SJG – My mantra is “plan for the worst, hope for the best.” My law firm’s business continuity plan was crucial to our success in 2020 and beyond. Minimizing business interruption is key, and the pandemic confirmed that law firms need to stay on the cutting edge of technology in order to do this.
Artificial intelligence is being used in the legal industry to save time by assisting in the researching, reviewing, and indexing of cases as well as predicting outcomes. AI can help us comb through relevant documents to find that needle in the haystack bit of evidence.
Lawyers can lead change within their own firms by committing to the implementation of new technology like this and appropriately training their employees, as well as providing them with relevant classes and courses for their career development and enrichment.
4) Make a crisis management plan in place
Steven Dorfman, Managing Attorney at The PerecmanFirm- If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that every law firm needs to have a crisis management plan in place. Everything from data backup, remote operations, property management, and personnel management needs to be taken into account.
Following the COVID19 shutdown, we were fortunate to implement a plan in response to the crisis that took into account all of these factors. As a result, we enjoyed tremendous success. It hasn’t been without struggles. Indeed, having a staff that works remotely can be difficult. The staff can frequently feel detached from the office community, and we all certainly feel that we’ve had one too many Zoom conferences. That said, I believe we’ve had such a successful time adapting to the current pandemic because we’ve attended to the firm’s practical needs as well as the staff’s personal and emotional concerns. As we turn the corner on this crisis, I am confidently aware of how our firm will respond. We now have a solid framework in place on how to proceed in the event of any future pandemic.
5) law is going digital
EricRohrback, Director at Hill & Ponton, P.A.
Lead digital transformation: Leading change post-covid is going to mean responding to the need for increased digital transformation, particularly with respect to automation and the more sophisticated use of data analysis and CRM to better understand and segment target markets. Law firms have traditionally been slow to adopt these technologies, but the pandemic has forced them on the industry. Leaders must accept that law is going digital, including increased tele-law opportunities, which will also mean expanding marketing efforts outside of the historically quite small geographical areas that many regionally-based law firms have targeted.
More Diversity and Inclusion Efforts: Law continues to be one of the most genders and racially homogeneous industries in the United States, and earnest law leaders in 2021 and beyond will be those who continue to take these principles to heart and make meaningful changes at the partnership, junior staff, and administrative levels.
6) Remote consultations Is in Power
ManetteSmith, Founder of The Nieves Law Firm, APC- While the COVID-19 pandemic has led to various changes across industries, it has clearly accelerated and even enhanced the progression of how law firms and legal entities serve clients. By now, industry leaders should be familiar with the remote work and remote consultations that accompanied the pandemic. If they aren’t, they likely won’t be around for long.
Leaders in the legal field can lead change now by taking advantage of these changes and further expanding on them. Remote work allows companies to reallocate budgetary items, like rent and parking. Also to various line items and expenditures that allow the firms to better serve their clients.
Remote consultations can be beneficial to clients who cannot make it into the office for a consultation, and they will be around for a while because of the convenience it provides. Lawyers should focus on making this remote consultation experience as seamless and efficient as possible for potential clients.
The pandemic has also forced the legal industry to rely more on technology, similar to what the rest of the business field was already doing. Law firms should further try to expand their technological capabilities to automate repetitive work for attorneys and legal assistants. Hence allowing their staff to focus more time on providing clients with outstanding legal representation.
Even in the post-pandemic time, change will continue to disrupt the legal sector. Therefore, leaders must consider process transformations to continue business not just amidst crisis but also in the new normal that is here to stay.
The prime focus should be targeted toward core elements of business, which becomes easier by joining hands with a firm that can provide quality and optimum support in handling your legal back-office functions. Therefore, we can say that this pandemic is an alarming message for the entire legal sector that a speedy transformation is the need of the hour that builds a path toward a better future.