The genie of new working practices released in response to the coronavirus of 2020 will not be put back in its bottle, but will usher in a new era of legal services delivery

We’re living in unprecedented times. If you’ve ever read any of Moore Legal Technology’s output before, you’ll know we have always had a lot to say about the changes facing lawyers and the forces that shape these. Well, we’re now facing a perfect storm that will bring all of these forces – and more – together.

At the time of writing, we have been in semi-lockdown for less than a week (slightly more if you count the general social distancing applied in the “early days” of the virus), and already businesses of all types are struggling to come to terms with the “new normal”.

Are we “essential”? Can we work from home? Can we still serve clients? All of these questions and more are on the minds of every lawyer.

What does the future hold? Is it a vision like the Disney* Pixar film Wall-E, in which humans live side by side but in isolation from one another, every whim catered for by robots and their only interaction via a screen? Or will we emerge from this situation and place even more value on human contact? Even if we simply go back to normal, attending unnecessary face-to-face meetings is unlikely to be high on anyone’s agenda – especially when technology has given us the means to avoid them.

Upsides of homeworking

While working from home is not without its challenges, there have been upsides. This week, I’ve been eating more with my family, taking delivery of locally-sourced fresh produce, and enjoying regular walks (within safe parameters) for their own sake.

Workwise, I’m sure we’ve all felt a degree of stress and worry during this adjustment period. However, the pace of life has felt slower, people are generally more forbearing, and the difference between true priority and “busywork” is clearer than before. I’m sure many will be keen to use technology to hold on to some of the more arcadian aspects of our current situation.

In short, I predict that the things that can be accomplished remotely, surely will be accomplished remotely.

Technology? It’s all there

The good news is that the technology we need already exists. Twenty years ago, things would have looked very different. However, nowadays, video calling, online collaboration tools and online payment services all exist already. Our experience is that most law firms have found organisational change to be the barrier to adoption. Well, that just cannot be the case any longer. We all need to adapt – fast.

Once we all get into our stride with this new reality, and basic necessities are taken care of, we’ll all start to need legal advice again. Family law, employment law, commercial law and – sadly – private client work are likely to experience a boom during and after the lockdown.

Property will be slower, but with less opportunity to spend our disposable income, I’d bet on property rebounding strongly too. And, lots of this work will be sought and instructed online.

At Moore Legal Technology, we have always preached the value of having an online presence, and that is more crucial now than ever – the ONLY way anyone can instruct a lawyer now is via the internet! If you aren’t online already, this is the time to do it.

Once the genie of video-calling, online document exchange, online payment and so on is out of the bottle, it won’t go back in. Clients will now expect it: “Well, you managed it during the coronavirus…”

A fire has well and truly been lit under the legal profession – there is now no option but to modernise.

*The House of Mouse has ridden to the rescue of many stressed-out parents
(myself included) with the release of Disney+!

The Author

David Kerr is a director of Moore Legal Technology, a digital marketing agency which specialises in helping law firms succeed online

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