With the pandemic situation gradually subsiding as days pass, its impact on various industries is still felt. Some changes are short-lived, while others seem to stay longer than expected. Among the affected businesses are law firms. But unlike most industries and organizations that are forced to end their operations, law firms are prompted to adapt to the changes caused by the pandemic.
Numerous law firms are now finding ways to embrace the changes, big or small, for them to continue running their operations and serve the clients. As we’re now moving towards brighter and safer days, we’ve compiled some of our most significant observations in law-firm operations and the legal sector in general.
1. In-person meeting alternatives
One of the biggest changes that the pandemic has brought, not only to the legal industry but to others too, is the increased popularity of videoconferencing and cloud technology. In fact, such changes offer a more favorable option for firms, professionals, and the clients themselves. This advancement is particularly beneficial for situations wherein office doors are closed and the staff and lawyers must continue their operations at home.
If you and your team are more used to meeting clients are restaurants, coffee shops, or libraries, relying on virtual meetings is now more preferable. You can also use video conferencing to communicate in real-time with your staff, lawyers, and other internal stakeholders.
2. The need for crisis teams
For many newer firms, creating a crisis team isn’t a priority until the pandemic happened. Sure, each crisis is unique, but having a team that can respond to things such as natural disasters or armed conflicts is generally needed. You need people within the organization who can create a crisis management plan covering four phases: mitigation, preparation, response, and recovery.
You can then adapt the plan to suit the specific type of crisis you’re facing. Most importantly, your crisis team should make time to meet regularly to revisit or update the contingencies. Ideally, the team must consist of your legal team, public relations, leadership members, and operations.
3. Remote work from home
For other organizations and businesses, working remotely is merely just an extra option or privilege before. But today, many law firms are also forced to embrace this setup to still accommodate the clients and operations without compromising on anyone’s safety. With the recent news of various effective vaccines, a better balance between on-site work or remote setup is expected.
This change is also seen to be a great advantage for members of the firms that have parenting responsibilities. Plus, it’s a huge step to reducing their footprint while making their internal workspaces more efficient than ever.
4. Increased family tensions
At the pandemic’s outbreak, different things seemed to have happened in terms of family law. For one, family tensions are at an all-time high. As a matter of fact, one study found that being in quarantine has stressed out many parents, making it more difficult for them to balance their family and work life.
However, for the legal industry, court hearings relating to family law cases are taking longer than before, leading to a slower rate of work accomplishments for many firms. At the same time, financial options have also become harder for many considering the recent house prices and stock market.
With various financial pressures, obtaining legal solutions for child custody and divorce has become more difficult. There are also reports that issues regarding such cases are increasing, given the hearings and negotiations getting done via video conferencing. In this case, judges are also finding it hard to make decisions.
5. Surge in employment-related issues
Apart from family-related issues, employment law has also seen a boost in various concerns from both employees and their employers. Employment lawyers are facing a surge in services for problems related to work benefits, overtime pay, and so on. There are also cases wherein employees are forced to increase the working hours without getting the right pay. In turn, law firms are getting arrangements to make the work chargeable by helping employees secure their payment before starting the work and receiving their full invoices.
Apart from work pay, the pandemic has also greatly affected employment contracts. Some contracts are written with the option for the agreed salaries’ reduction, unpaid leaves, deferment of promotions and bonuses, and immediate termination.
From the way operations are implemented to the demand for different legal services, it’s quite clear how the law firms are striving to stay the course. Regardless if you’re a member of a law firm or a client in the legal sector, it’s always best to keep abreast of the changes in the industry, especially at your local level.