Covid – the catalyst for change in the Legal sector
There’s no doubt that every sector has experienced rapid and fundamental changes within their business over the last 6 months, but for the legal sector, this has been especially exponential.
An industry known for its traditional working practises, with an abundance of regulatory requirements and a reluctance to embrace innovation, law firms today have realised that things will never be the same again.
As lawyers and support staff were quickly vacated from the ‘safety net’ of the office, systems and equipment which had never been moved, were now expected to work exactly the same for a completely remote workforce. This was an extremely scary prospect for any Managing Partner, as the protection and safety of their incredibly sensitive data is always paramount.
Staff now have access to this data from home, across home grade broadband and across multiple mobile devices. This has caused and is still causing for some, a huge headache for this industry.
However, after the initial panic there has then been a wonderful realisation that actually, it doesn’t really matter what four walls you’re within. You can still be productive, available and protected, if you use the right technology and if you embrace some consistent and relatively straightforward protocols and procedures.
Don’t get me wrong, this industry, like many are still finding their feet with remote working and digitalisation, but those that had a strong IT Partner on board, achieved it much more easily than was ever imagined.
With the main concerns being around resilience and connectivity, plus of course GDPR and Cyber Security measures, many firms are looking to their IT Partner for support on these. With expert advice and effective online training for all staff across the organisation, these concerns can be quite easily removed.
Whilst acknowledging there are still issues that need to be worked through. For example: how do you integrate new joiners into established teams; how do you ensure proper supervision; and how do you keep staff engagement and morale high with a dispersed workforce, there so many positives that have come from this forced and rapid change to the legal sector. Having spoken with many law firms, I’ve briefly outlined the top ones below:
Clients are happier
It’s true that client demands and expectations have changed. They now feel it’s entirely acceptable to call their case lawyer at 7pm when the kids are in bed to discuss their case. It’s convenient for them and they’re the ones paying, so why not. The days of 9-5 are over and businesses who are available around the clock and offer greater flexibility will come out of this the best. With law firms embracing this new expectation, they’re enjoying increased client loyalty and further improved reputations.
Employees have a better work life balance
Although home working is nothing new, very few law firms offered this to their staff and had no future plans in doing so. Yet now, with many firms seeing the same if not increased productivity levels from home workers, the model has been proven. Many Managing Partners are now feeling much more relaxed about having a remote workforce and with happier staff, who get to see more of their family or have more time to spend on their favourite hobby, it makes sense to continue this way of working. By allowing employees to flex their hours when it suits, they also become more available to their clients.
Technology is delivering cost savings
As all firms continue to scrutinise their outgoings, finances are heavily under the spotlight. Not only can firms embrace the possibility of having a smaller office, or no office at all with a remote workforce, they are also seeing financial benefits through their new technology choices. Covid-19 has encouraged a huge amount of businesses to progress their plans to move to the cloud quicker than originally planned. By adopting a subscription-based payment model with cloud technology, firms enjoy a predictable monthly cost as opposed to large upfront outlays. With the option to lease laptops and screens and get rid of bulky in-house servers, companies are saving thousands on maintenance costs and enjoying more up to date and secure equipment at the same time.
So even though for this sector it has been extremely challenging and it’s true no one is quite out of the woods yet, Covid-19 has moved the legal sector forward in a way which nothing else could have. Now is the time to really embrace it.