Like so many employers, law firms were resistant to the idea of letting employees work from home or relying too much on technology – until they had no choice. The coronavirus pandemic forced many industries to reconsider how people work and use technology. Even the Supreme Court began holding oral arguments via video conference.
Although a recent survey shows that most lawyers don’t want to work from home full-time, it’s unlikely firms will be able to completely roll back remote work when the pandemic subsides. At least some of the tech tools used over the last six months will stick around. Consider these silver linings:
One of the most significant benefits of remote lawyering we’ve heard about is saving time – especially travel time. Like so many of us, lawyers who no longer have a commute have extra hours in the day now. And that time can be used to take better care of clients or ourselves.
Attorneys who do a lot of their work in court can fit more clients into their day. Remote hearings mean no traveling to the courthouse, or for some, multiple courthouses. We’re not expecting courts to continue holding all hearings remotely when it is safe to do so person again, but there are certainly opportunities to take advantage of this efficiency. Scheduling conferences, for example, could be conducted remotely rather than forcing attorneys to travel to the courthouse for a 15-minute meeting with the judge.
Thinking More About Security
We’ve written quite a bit on this blog about the cybersecurity risks law firms face. But the general consensus remained that law firms were tempting targets for hackers because they often had lax security. Perhaps the willingness to adopt recent technology will change that.
No longer holding client meetings in person forced firms to think a lot more about internet security, including figuring out which video conferencing platform to use. Keeping client files safe while employees work from home brings up more discussions of secure Wi-Fi networks.
Sometimes we all need a little push to make a change. The pandemic just happened to be a big one. But hopefully, the legal industry can use this time to figure out how best to use technology to keep up with client expectations.