How law firms dealt with the pandemic? and lessons for the future!

By : | On October 18, 2021 |

Any businesses associated with the practice of law are often perceived as old-fashioned or change-resistant. Still, law practitioners (senior management, attorneys, litigation support specialists, and paralegals) presented outstanding adaptability, welcoming remote work culture. Not only in terms of technology adoption, but law firms also moved to a new mindset of working, that few of us had ever anticipated.

This unprecedented chapter (global health pandemic) made people realize that the change is not that hard to accept nor does it snatch your hard-earned legacy. More lawyers now agree that technology never replaces their expertise!

Here are a few classic scenarios and the learning points out of them:

Transition to Process-oriented work approach

The age when a senior attorney called a paralegal for the latest version of a document is soon coming to a close. The Covid-19 shutdown dictated that staff at all levels needed to get more autonomous and start learning how to use their (new and old!) technology. Law firms all around the globe accepted a process-oriented work methodology in which dependence on a person (physical or virtual) could be minimized. After a long time, people began focusing again on outlining processes. They identified the gaps in the existing one and ultimately tried sorting it out.

Transition to a cloud-based data storage/collaboration environment

On-premise storage environments, the stalwart of law firms, need continuous maintenance and monitoring by IT, this can be a problem working with a skeleton staff. On-premise setups and shared drives present limitations for remote working employees. These are the reasons law firms initiated the long-pending cloud transformation! A few law firms even upgraded their desktop-based legacy applications to a similar cloud solution. There are numerous managed cloud solutions available for small or mid-sized law firms that don’t have in-house IT resources. In my opinion, cloud transformation will continue as work from home culture is part of the new normal.

Court proceedings could remain virtual!

“Virtual proceedings are the best way to maintain social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the continued administration of justice through the duration of the crisis,” said a Suffolk County Courts’ Administrative Judge.

It was 31st of March 2020 when Judicial Conference of the United States approved video and teleconferencing for certain criminal proceedings. Since then not only in the USA but from all around the world, courts started delivering justice with the use of technology. To keep pace with this new trend, law firms have begun adopting modern technologies. However, few courts have moved all their processes back to their previous physical way of working, now they know the power of technology.

Aversion to technology will leave firms lagging behind

No business can afford ‘aversion’ to technology. Clients are more collaborative than ever and expect the same from their legal representatives. Without having a robust technology for matter management, document management, and tasks management in place, a law firm can’t serve the clients in an efficient way. Client expectations will go up with time and more advancement from law firms will be needed.

Did you know?

An overwhelming 84 percent of law firms plan to increase their technology budget

– 2021 report on the state of legal market by Thomson Reuters

Improving service delivery to clients is imperative for law firms and that’s the reason the majority of law firms are investing in innovative technology.

Tech-savvy lawyers could be the most important assets for the firm

Years of experience sure does matter, which is why the demand for senior lawyers and their expertise can never go out of vogue. However, with the recent adoption of virtual hearings + technology-backed court proceedings, new lawyers who are regular users of Zoom, GoToMeeting, Slack, Case Scheduler tool, and Cloud-based document collaboration platform are in high demand. Clients also prefer at least one tech-savvy player on the team to deal with legal proceedings’ virtual setup. Meanwhile, this virtual setup is here to stay for as long as courts are willing to continue virtual hearings.

Mapping Team’s productivity is more crucial than ever

The legal industry has often been a fan of micro-management. However, work from home culture has forced us all to reconsider this. Legal professionals often face innumerable distractions or interruptions when working from home due to lack of privacy, poor internet connections, and electricity outages during civil maintenance, and heavy storm or weather conditions. To counter such situations, law firms rely on various technology solutions to map teams’ productivity and help them cope with challenges to perform better even when working from home. Law firms of any size can leverage case or matter management platforms that are available on a flexible deployment model.

Do more with less – a success mantra for the future

Resource optimization is always crucial. It is time to upskill your team and identify the gap in routine work. You can hire Quality Excellence consultants to reinvent your internal processes. An optimized process-driven work methodology adds confidence when adding new projects using technology.

Automate monotonous tasks for cutting down operation costs!

There is no reason to allocate your expensive resources on repetitive and laborious tasks, rather automate them, and allocate resources on priority stuff that requires a logical ability (i.e. extensive legal research, litigation strategy building, review evidence, and other case-related documents). Sending a follow-up email for the requested information, reminders for due payment to clients, checking court deadlines and notifying stakeholders, manually assigning tasks to junior, and keeping a tab on ongoing tasks could be automated with a powerful legal project management platform.

Embrace Technology, instead of tools!

Sometimes energy is wasted on managing special-purpose tools. Small tools seem to be powerful and easy to use but using such individual tools on regular basis isn’t practical. It will add the burden of pushing data and exporting it from one to another. This also raises a question on data integrity. Law firms should approach an end-to-end technology, not individual tools, that fulfills all the requirements from start and end. It minimizes data pushing and pulling efforts.

Think twice before choosing a technology vendor

The effort, time, and money would go in vain if you deal with the wrong vendor or wrong tools. The foremost rule is to be clear about your challenges and set technology requirements. You can form a committee (which have members from all the department and from all levels) for internal assessment. Choose a vendor who has in-house built technology and who offers flexible pricing and deployment model. You should go with a vendor that allows you to choose cloud options of your choice. At Knovos, we facilitate our clients to choose between Knovos’ cloud, their own cloud, or any preferred third-party cloud. Never choose a technology that requires high-level change management (until you are prepared for it). Assess risks before adopting any new process workflow, as sometimes the vendor can discard your existing flow. Instead, you can choose a vendor who has a technology that fits into your current flow and improve your service delivery.

Wrapping up

The legal world has embraced the challenges of the last couple of years and evolved well! Now, lowering operational costs and improving service delivery are two mandates for law firms in 2022 and ahead.  So plan a big transformation and put it into action.

About Dharmesh Shingala

Driven by personal ambition to develop outstanding technological solutions for corporate and government clients, Dharmesh Shingala co-founded Knovos with Gita Shingala in 2002. Prior to Knovos, Dharmesh spent more than a decade developing and applying efficient and cost-effective solutions for various clients; in 1994, he founded GDS systems, the parent software company of Knovos, which primarily worked with the U.S. Government. At Knovos, Dharmesh has harnessed all of his innovative energy and foresight into developing unparalleled electronic discovery and information governance solutions and delivering them to law firms, federal agencies, and corporate IT managers.