The year 2020 got humanity to witness and experience a never seen before pandemic, Covid 19, which put all humans across the globe under unrest. Alarming impacts were visible in economies and businesses worldwide, with countries going in for lockdowns for months at a stretch.
Like all other industries, the legal sector was also impacted in more ways than one. In this write-up, I shall summarize the effect of Covid-19 on the legal sector.
The Flipside of Covid:
Covid brought a fair share of troubles for the legal industry as it did for humanity worldwide. While the industry players brought in changes to sustain in due time(mentioned in the article below), the sector initially saw a decline in projects. Legal firms reported that the demand dropped by 20% in April as compared to other years.
To address this, various cost-cutting measures were brought into place by legal firms, which included lay-offs, pay cuts ad furloughs alike.
However, these were the initial effects that started waning off as time passed and people started adapting to the changes brought in by Covid.
How Covid 19 is affecting the United States’ vital legal markets?
· Experts from Chicago have mentioned how the Coronavirus pandemic brought the need for remote working and new ways to support clients like every other industry. Technological innovation and adaptability of law firms became the critical factors for sustenance. The focus shifted to business continuity and extending support to clients in these uncertain times while ensuring the law firms themselves had a strategic plan for potential future crises.
· Significant collateral impacts were visible in the legal market due to considerable effects on law firms’ manufacturing, retail, transactional, and tourism clients.
· On the other hand, many countries, including the United States, witnessed new legal work generated due to insurance disputes and multiple other litigation disputes.
· The practice areas thriving in Seattle like IP, corporate, litigation, real estate, employment, environmental, tax, restructuring and insolvency, technology transactions, and investment management continued to witness demand from the client base during the pandemic.
· Experts from Alabama have reported that the pandemic created considerable work for the Government and regulatory lawyers. They had an added task in hand to advise their clients on ways to access the benefits of relief funds floated by the Government to support businesses industries.
· Legal experts in Florida have witnessed significant growth. They expect to see a further spike in legal requirements in government relations, administrative and regulatory law, healthcare, labor, and employment law.
Has Covid-19 changed the ways of working for lawyers as well?
As Covid-19 stepped into our lives, communities and impacted the way we have lived so far, it was evident that transformations and innovations would percolate down to our work and businesses. Humanity got introduced to a new way of life that had “social distancing” in it. That meant cutting oneself and one’s family off from the rest of the world, be it offices or social gatherings. This resulted in a revolution in organizations worldwide’ work arrangements, and work from home or remote working got eventually introduced.
The legal industry was no exception to this as legal firms shifted base to homes and continued supporting their clients and tackling challenges thrown by Covid-19 and otherwise.
Covid 19 has helped reshape the legal industry and working of lawyers in more ways than one. Few are listed below:
1. Remote Working: As mentioned above, the switch to remote working since the onset of the pandemic has made legal firms realize many valuable lessons. As offices shifted seamlessly from office to home, productivity and work quality remained unaffected. So much so that in the coming years, firms may integrate remote working in their work cultures to attract and retain top talent.
2. Need for re-analyzing office spaces: With the majority of the workforce working remotely, in the future, law firms may think of saving on real estate by re-evaluating their office space need.
3. Technology Adaptation: Covid 19 got lawyers and law firms to take to technology innovations in their pursuit to stay connected with their clients and provide them quality services like all other business verticals. Court proceedings and hearings shifted online, and remote advocacy came into play. Not only lawyers of all age groups or the law firms, the Judicial and Federal Courts also adapted to change and continued delivering in Covid times by embracing and leveraging technology. Videotaped depositions and hearings are the new norms.
4. Travel time reduced: As the courtrooms came home online for all, it zeroed down the need for travel in Covid times, which meant legal firms could achieve more, and eventually, save travel time and cost.
To conclude, as Covid 19 is there to stay for a couple of years more(as suggested by health industry experts), the legal industry changes that it brought in are also there to stay.
Law firms’ focus shall now be shifted all the more to legal process outsourcing, as physical meetings remain a thing of the past(at least till the vaccine starts working).