Attorneys reimagined their work in the face of great challenges and to great benefit in 2020. But what does the future hold?
Covid-19 transformed the way law firms look and function. As work-from-home policies took precedent, attorneys commuted to courthouses via Zoom, firms shrunk their real-estate footprint as offices operated online, and age-old paper processes became digitized. Pandemic-era workarounds, implemented for health and safety, started to make dollars and sense. And as with many fields, law became more virtual in twelve months than in the last twelve years.
Truth be told, the virtual-solutions-train was changing the way attorneys did business before the pandemic. The American Bar Association indicates 50% of lawyers already telecommuted in some fashion, and no doubt, E-Typist’s web-based Legal Transcription Services were in demand as far back as 15 years ago. But Covid-19 has accelerated an already growing virtual trend by changing perceptions across the board (and at an unprecedented rate).
Looking beyond the pandemic, Clio’s 2020 Legal Trends Report indicates 83% of lawyers will continue to video conference with clients after Covid. Further, 76% believe legal services are actually streamlined when conducted virtually. And some 96% of respondents said they will continue to store their data on cloud-based platforms. In a field known for its technology resistance, these technological adoptions spell a very different looking law firm of tomorrow.
And then there’s the brick-and-mortar office space. As the pandemic created shutdowns and clients became less than excited to meet in person, 7% of legal professionals let go of their commercial office space, with 12% claiming to be unsure if they will keep a storefront in the future. With remote work already on the rise pre-pandemic, many firms have found they could save as much as $10,000 to $20,000 per lawyer by adopting a virtual office space.
Because going virtual naturally removes the shackles of geography and time, cost savings are everywhere. E-Typist, for instance, now offers Virtual Legal Assistants. These trained legal secretaries can complete a variety of admin tasks remotely, without traditional employer overhead like insurance or tax costs. In more places than just law, labor is becoming rightsized, with businesses paying only for the work they need — when it’s needed.
Innovation equals efficiency, so perhaps it’s no surprise law firms are adopting technological gains long term. While the future for attorneys (like all professionals) remains uncertain, expect the unforeseen to look a little less scary as tech solves problems, big and small.