COVID-19 has impacted the entire world. Among the many industries that have changed, law firms have also adapted. Many lawyers are wondering what long-term impacts these changes will have on the industry.
While there are still constant changes, there are a few notable outcomes that will likely stick around.
Cloud usage & remote work
While cloud-based systems and remote access have gained increasing popularity, the number of firms who have made the transition in the wake of COVID-19 is substantial. With limited access to office and the need for remote work, the benefits and necessity of cloud-based practice management programs and tools have been made clear. Without cloud access, firms have discovered the possibility of being unable to continue to work on their client matters. As a result, the shift toward cloud programs has gone from a thought to a necessity.
Additionally, law firms are finding there are benefits to remote work including reduced expenses from office space costs and improved employee morale.
Virtual consultations and meetings
Being able to connect with clients and colleagues has remained, causing a push toward virtual communication through tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts. Even once there is a return to the office, it’s highly likely there will be a reduction in long-distance travel and in-person due to the effectiveness of video conferencing. While there is no substitute for in-person communication, video conferencing presents the opportunity to be able to keep a connection while cutting down on the time spent getting to and from the meeting.
Remote court appearances
The closure of many courts has forced remote court appearances in order to keep cases moving forward, with judges holding conferences through telephone, Skype and other methods1. Once the courts open, if there is continued social distancing, it’s likely that will become a more adopted – and permanent – feature. There are many times where face-to-face interaction is necessary to work through a case, but for more minor instances where travel and associated costs aren’t in the best interest of clients, these types of remote court appearances will provide a valuable option.
These are just a few of the many changes that are sure to come as a result of COVID-19. Other potential long-term impacts include culture shifts, faster adoption of technology, and improved work from home policies.