Law PC (Post Coronavirus): How will Law Firms adapt following COVID-19

May 12, 2020

3 min read

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What's going on here?

Though the Coronavirus crisis will likely continue to affect the world of business for the foreseeable future, many law firms and commentators are beginning to consider what lessons can be learned from the crisis. The question, therefore, becomes, what could/should a post Coronavirus law firm look like?

What does this mean?

For much of the past decade law firms have been considering how to adapt and grow in the digital age, as well as how to remain competitive in a changing economy. Whilst many have made forays into innovations in work practices, e-learning and costings, these have often been small investments. However, Coronavirus has forced big picture changes in many areas allowing firms to see that providing high-quality legal work is possible in newer and perhaps better ways.

What's the big picture effect?

The number and range of effects the present crisis is having on law firms and the world alike are innumerable and, in some instances, presently unrecognisable. Therefore, the best way to highlight possible changes to law firms is to look at several specific issues. 

The first and most obvious of these is remote working. Whilst a report from the Society for Human Resources Management found that 69% of workplaces allowed remote working in 2019, the present scale of remote workers far eclipses any previous numbers. Despite this, firms are currently seeing that they are still able to deliver high-quality work without the need for a large centralised office. This discovery is likely to have massive ramifications for both law firms and their employees. Firms may choose to move away from flashy and large city offices with unused space and opt instead to have smaller offices primarily for client meetings, trainee development and larger office infrastructure meetings. This will allow them to save money, and let employees have a better work-life balance as well as easier handling of childcare responsibilities. However, firms will have to consider how to ensure workers have good team bonding opportunities as well as good mental health.

To facilitate remote working, as well as embrace the possibility of distance learning, firms may need to implement new technologies. This can be in the form of software or hardware, but managing partner of FisherBroyles (the world’s first and largest distributed partnership, a model in which individuals partners around the world work together via technology, rather than office space), Kevin Broyles, says that it’s important to use tech experts to both fully equip employees with the tech and the know how to operate it.

The last methods which firms may use to adapt are slightly more theoretical. Many firms operate as semi-autonomous different practices, with various strengths and weaknesses, and a lack of a consistent quality. Many firms may take this period of disrupted, out of office business to revamp themselves, providing a clearer vision of their firm going forward. Similarly, many clients both generally and due to the current pandemic, are viewing legal services as discreet parts, rather than having single lawyers or firms handle all their legal work. Therefore, firms may consider adopting a “Hollywood Model” wherein they keep a core of dedicated staff but bring in experts on a project by project basis. This will allow for lower operating costs for firms, as well as higher quality and more competitive work.

What’s important to note is that all these changes are theoretical, firms could simply choose to stick with their pre-COVID structures. However, as a prospective lawyer, considering the possible ramifications will really highlight that you’re an impressive candidate.

Report written by Hari Majumdar

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