In the midst of a global health crisis, law firms must find ways to adapt. There will always be a high demand for legal services despite the prevailing threat of COVID-19, so firms will need to implement the right measures to protect their staff and their clients from the disease.
As the world inches closer to a vaccine for COVID-19, the new normal will certainly pose several challenges to the legal industry for the months to come. Weathering these challenges will mean making very significant adjustments to how attorneys across all specialties perform.
For that, let’s take a look at the future of law firms in the new normal:
No-contact consultations: Maximizing the use of communication platforms
In the new normal, social distancing is necessary as much as it is a form of risk mitigation. Considering the high transferability of Coronavirus, organizations will have to look for ways to limit person-to-person meetings. This comes as a disadvantage to lawyers who need to meet their clients in person to discuss the details about their case.
Despite that, lawyers and clients can still collaborate efficiently using platforms that allow for remote communication. Right now, lawyers can set up high-quality audio conferences via Zoom. The platform allows for instant file sharing, audio control, and slideshow sharing so lawyers can go over critical documents with their clients.
Aside from Zoom, there is also Skype, which is also great for video conferencing. Installing the Skype app on a phone gives lawyers an alternative way to communicate with their clients without incurring hefty charges.
Of course, there is also Google Hangouts for when you need to ask questions regarding the content of an email. Recently, however, the tech giant has rolled out Google Meet, allowing users to set up real-time meetings straight from Gmail.
Whichever you like best, using a communication platform can help lawyers and their clients reduce the need for scheduled in-person meetings and, more importantly, engage each other when there’s an urgent need to.
Apps for days: Simplifying document processing in the age of COVID-19
Considering the situation right now, there are apps that can help law firms prepare documents, organize cases, as well as manage and track workflows.
The new normal will definitely see more and more lawyers using digital services and software for a variety of tasks. When it comes to preparing documents, lawyers can draft out contracts involving several parties through Google Docs. The platform allows people to make real-time changes to documents they are allowed access to.
There are also apps specifically made for the legal world such as PathLegal. The software features a straightforward case management component. It allows lawyers to schedule appointments and manage clients, enabling them to save time and ensuring that everything runs smoothly from day to day.
Dropbox is also an essential app to have when it comes right down to sharing files. It’s secure and it allows for up to 18GB of free storage, making it a great way to save backup data in case of hardware damage.
Law firms can also make use of apps like Slack, Wunderlist, and Trello for assigning tasks, saving resources, and managing to-do lists that anyone can update. These productivity and workflow management tools can be a great help to maintain cohesiveness in a law firm.
Adherence to health protocols: Simple habits for saving lives
What will the modern law firm look like a few months from now? For sure, not all activities can be handled remotely. And depending on local policies, firms may have to follow certain procedures like everyone else.
As lockdown measures are relaxed in some states, local law firms will still need to follow certain protocols for in-person meetings. The De Alicante Law Group based in Bend, Oregon, for instance, requires personal protective equipment for face-to-face consultations. Other law firms are also setting up sanitation areas where employees and clients need to pass through before entering the firm’s premises.
It’s a small sacrifice in terms of convenience, but these measures are necessary to keep the legal industry on its feet while protecting people from a very lethal virus.
Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the way we live and the way we work. But considering the fact that this isn’t the first health crisis humanity has dealt with, it’s important for people to make changes to their habits.
We can only imagine how the 1918 pandemic changed the legal world, but one thing’s for sure: the industry will continue to thrive so long as firms adapt to changing circumstances.