How COVID-19 is Reshaping Legal Practices and Presenting Innovation Opportunities
COVID-19 is causing untold challenges. The world is changing in every which way because of it, but the evolution isn’t always negative. While most of the consequences of the virus have been disadvantages, it is also forcing specific industries to excel and embrace technology. One of these sections is law.
Legal practices are being accelerated and reshaped by the use of remote hearings and other technological advances. While it has, of course, caused problems it has also opened opportunities for innovation.
Read more below to see how COVID-19 is impacting legal practices and changing them for the worse and for the better.
COVID-19 & the Legal Industry
More than two-thirds of respondents to a survey of the legal industry said that COVID-19 is the biggest challenge facing the industry. Cash flow is one of the most primary concerns, with almost half saying that they anticipate a short-term decrease in demand for their services. This sentiment has led to 71 percent expressing the concern that insufficient work will not cover future costs.
Cash flow is necessary to keep legal businesses moving forward, and 44 percent are worried that they don’t have enough to meet current operation costs. Firms are reducing staff hours, cancelling subscriptions, and delaying investments among other cost-saving measures. Still, despite this a third of people believe that the pandemic will lead to an increase in their workload in the long and short-term.
The market is more confident than people might expect. Especially when you consider the scale of the global crisis, some firms are reporting remarkable stability. There is expected growth within the next five years. While many factors contribute to why these companies feel that they will continue to grow, a few are pertinent in the time of COVID-19.
For one, many people are working from home. There have been various studies showing that people are more productive working from home, without a commute and working within their own space. Zoom and other online tools have made meeting online easy and productive. Not all appointments need to be done in person. This also lends itself to a younger, more technologically proficient workforce. A representative from the law firm McGinley Solicitors shared that their most obvious time-saver are remote hearings. Courts are finally transitioning to an online infrastructure, making some hearing processes easier. Others have to be done in person, but anything that doesn’t have to be is going online.
Limits of Technology
Still there are undoubtedly limits to technology. We have yet to see how it might negatively impact the legal process. It isn’t always clear how a person is feeling over the internet, it is just easier to get a sense of them in person. This could lead to some faulty decisions.
Furthermore the transition into a more technologically savvy legal sector will take a while. Some people are resisting these changes. There is also the argument that some firms may take advantage of this transition and early flaws, even contributing to complacency of the virus.
Is Confidence Complacency?
The COVID-19 pandemic has not done away with the problems in the legal industry that existed before it. It has, however, temporarily put them much lower on the priority list for legal professionals. Around three-quarters of the people who were surveyed in the study above are concerned about staying up-to-date with compliance regulations.
There has been an added pressure to stay compliant with the laws put in place because of the virus, and many legal professionals will do their best to avoid the restrictions that result. Legal firms have a business model that leaves room for much growth, and the need to grow is pertinent to these times. However, it is important for the sector to embrace the advantages of the pandemic in order to stay compliant while staying as productive as possible.
When you look at the positive side of things, the restrictions can enable legal firms to innovate and create new ways to grow and succeed. Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and the law firms that embrace the challenges and begin looking at their practices in new ways, the more innovation will occur within this field. It is imperative for all of us to look beyond the immediate and toward the future of not just the legal industry but of the whole world.