The pandemic has changed nearly every aspect of life. In particular, the pandemic has dramatically altered the way in which work is conducted. Law firms and businesses of other varieties have pivoted toward working from home, often referred to with the acronym of WFH. This shift is likely to be more of a permanent change rather than a short-term trend. Here’s why.
It wasn’t long ago when law firm employees met face-to-face in meeting rooms and at cubicles to discuss work projects. The pandemic has spurred a seismic shift in the manner in which law firms operate. Attorneys, paralegals and other law firm contributors are largely working remotely, be it from home, libraries, cafes, hotel rooms or airports.
Advances in technology have made this transition quite efficient, setting the stage for a permanent change in how legal work is performed in the years ahead. It is quite possible the ongoing pandemic will last another half-decade or even longer, rendering the traditional law office as somewhat of an ancient relic of the past.
It was only a couple decades ago when law firms relied on tangible paper files stored in filing cabinets to organize case information. The rise of legal operations software has presented a digital hub for the organization and retrieval of the information attorneys and paralegals need to work with efficiency.
Legal software can be accessed from remote locations far away from the law firm headquarters, allowing for real-time collaboration with colleagues from the comfort of home. Some such software is also designed to automate mundane and repetitive tasks, freeing law office personnel to focus on complex problem-solving and providing timely and responsive client support.
Videoconferencing is the most significant alteration to daily work resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Zoom video conferences have quickly become the norm for exchanging information with fellow attorneys, paralegals, clients and even courts. The most efficient law firms are combining legal software with videoconferencing technology to replicate the traditional law office of yesteryear in digital form.
The shift toward working digitally has proven that much more efficient as it has consolidated the storage and retrieval of case information as well as law firm communication through the centralized hub of legal operations software. The end result is much more efficient legal operations that include contributions from hardworking personnel stationed across the country. Law firms that have embraced the technological shift during the pandemic have successfully onboarded talented personnel from distant locations, ultimately leveling the playing field for talented individuals in search of legal opportunities that otherwise would not have been available in their local area.
There is much discussion as to whether the changes in the way law firms function following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic will be permanent or temporary. Though some veterans of the legal industry who enjoy the traditional work environment will undoubtedly push for a return to “before times” as some mainstream media outlets are referring to the pre-pandemic era, the vast majority of law firm managers will allow for the digital shift to continue its evolution even if the pandemic ends in the months or years ahead.
There is no denying the shift to virtual work has ramped up law firm efficiency and improved worker morale. Though a reliance on technology certainly removes the human element of interfacing with co-workers in-person, a reliance on legal operations software for streamlining work ultimately reduces overhead expenses, adding that much more to the bottom line.
Technological innovation will continue to address law firm pain points regardless of whether the pandemic continues indefinitely or comes to a gradual end. Firms that embrace the technological shift will enjoy a significant competitive advantage as the legal industry continues to evolve.