COVID-19 has led to an economic disruption throughout the world, and businesses are finding it hard to cope with the same. If we talk about the legal industry, most of the law firms and lawyers have reported revenue loss due to lockdown, reduced business operations, and a shortage of staff. Legal professionals have left no stone unturned in adopting multiple strategies to tackle this challenging situation.
Let us find about these strategies and figure out what plans do the legal professionals have in place for the post-COVID-19 period.
1. Coronavirus will leave its own set of positives
James White, Experienced Trial Attorney with a Focus on Complex, Mass-Action, and Class- Action Litigation
“The virus’ impact on the practice of law is going to be profound. We already see law firms cut back on their hiring and change the way they do things. The days of old, of twenty lawyers hanging around outside a conference room in line waiting to go talk to a judge or an official for five minutes and billing the client for two hours of travel, those days are over.
As a legal service provider, I do think there will be some benefits to the client. Matters will be more accessible to them and more affordable for them, and this is something that we’re excited about. We’ve prepared for the remote practice of law for a long time, not because of any pandemic. We just felt it would be the most efficient way to deliver the product to the client.
We’re already seeing enormous challenges from people that we represent. We’re getting calls that we’ve never received before. People are not stealing to get drugs. They’re not stealing for greed. They’re stealing food. People that have never been in trouble before!
We’re also ramping up our bankruptcy practice. We hope that people don’t find themselves in that situation, but we certainly want to be there to assist those who may have that need and are under those pressures.
The judicial system will operate differently too. I think judges are going to have to adapt as well. And those adaptations will be challenging for some judges and less challenging for others, but I think at the end of the day, the legal system will be better as a result of this.
2. We are affected by COVID-19 but not broken for the future
Ryan Reiffert, Business Attorney
I’m a solo practitioner. My plan is to absolutely hit the ground running after COVID-19. I think this virus has really injured a lot of the more ossified and traditional practices who were unable to adapt during the virus and opened up a lot of space in the market. I have seen people continue to form businesses – as far as I can tell, the entrepreneurial spirit of the US is undiminished from this crisis.
3. We have understood the need to have a crisis plan in place
Andrew Jezic, Maryland Criminal Defense lawyer and Partner at Law Offices OfJezic & Moyse, LLC
“Our first priority post-COVID-19 will be to follow up on the list of leads we have gathered during the shutdown. With the courts at a standstill, we have had the opportunity to create a sizable potential client list, which we will use to jump-start our business as we return to normal services. After that, we will be putting an emphasis on creating a crisis management plan. This pandemic has opened our eyes to the need to plan for the unexpected, and we will be devoting a lot of time and effort to ensure we are ready when the next unforeseen circumstances occur.
4. Zoom has made and will make things easy for lawyers
Russell Knight, Attorney at Law Office of Russell D Knight
I’m a family law lawyer with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Naples, Florida. I used to travel back and forth between the two places before this crisis.
Now, I’m “trapped” in Florida and loving it. I am still doing intakes and even hearings in Chicago and loving it. Zoom has changed everything about litigation, and it means we can practice anywhere.
I will no longer say that I only practice in one county and courthouse. With Zoom, I practice anywhere my license is good.
5. Firms are looking to cut costs and increase revenue
Ken Seddon, CEO of LOT Network
Ken Seddon, CEO of LOT Network- the leading international nonprofit community of companies protecting against costly litigation brought by patent assertion entities (PAEs, also known as “patent trolls”), shares his view on post COVID-19 plans for corporate/IP legal teams:
Immunization from PAEs is needed now more than ever. Companies that are facing economic challenges look at additional revenue sources which, for some, include monetizing their patent portfolio. PAEs are still seeking monetary gains when companies are trying to be strategic with their expenses. Historically with each recession, companies sell or abandon their patents to save on operating costs. This means that when the economy turns down, PAE activity sharply increases.
As IP lawyers are looking at ways to protect their company’s innovation post-COVID-19, they’ll look at cost-effective strategies like LOT Network.
6. Bankruptcy will be on the rise
Patrick J. Best, Tax Planning Attorney helping small business owners nationwide to save money on their taxes.
We are anticipating a large shift in our firm towards services such as bankruptcy, social security disability, and tax resolution. The need for these services tends to increase when unemployment rates are high or when the economy has a downward turn.
Businesses will need Chapter 11 bankruptcy to stay alive. Others may need Chapter 7 bankruptcy to close. Individuals will need Chapter 13 bankruptcy to repay their late mortgages or late rents. Some people will never go back to work.
Many times those people turn to social security disability as an income replacement. The legal services industry always fluctuates with the economy. No matter the direction, we intend to help those who need it post-COVID-19.
7. Overall re-evaluation of legal practice is needed
Todd A. Spodek, Criminal Defense, Divorce & Family Law Attorney
I think that lawyers have to realize that they are “trusted advisors” to their clients and are looked for guidance in turbulent times. I manage a criminal defense/divorce law firm, so I always joke; that it’s all drama all the time. We try to be very client experience-oriented, and the pandemic will change that going forward. We must make our services accessible and use whatever we have to help our clients end goals.
If the pandemic has done anything, it’s hopefully allowed people re-evaluate what is important in their life and what is not so important. Anything that can mitigate the clients’ exposure is key now. We are going forward with re-evaluating our office spaces, determining, what is the best way to handle them, and how we can reduce our real-estate costs which will trickle down to our clients.
We are fine-tuning our system so it’s all automatic and our clients can fill out their intakes online, pay online, sign the retainer online, calendar a call/video with the attorney online, and we can fit their schedule rather than vice versa.
8. Remote working helped and will help us significantly
Melvin Babi, General Counsel with specific emphasis in Business, Real Estate, and Bankruptcy Law
I’ve had my own practice for 13 years. When it comes to Bankruptcy law, I need to focus on making my clients comfortable with their situation and now also with Covid-19.
To ensure the safety of our clients, our firm has taken significant steps to operate and interact with our clients remotely and securely.
We’ve integrated a client portal system that securely receives our clients’ documents and explains why we need them. Clients have loved the explanations because it provides them with a sense of empowerment to contribute to the solutions they’re seeking.
This pretty much gives us an idea that every legal professional has leveraged technology to support remote working and ensure smooth business operations amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. They have realized the importance of sticking with the digital approach in the future due to the benefits it brings along with it.
Still, there are and will be some legal back-office processes that demand time, effort, and cost of lawyers concerning hiring, training and paying the in-house staff for handling the same.
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