In the last few weeks, we’ve seen communication technologies be leveraged by lawyers and law firms to survive… Tomorrow entirely new models will be used like the Future Framework for Legal Practice. Which path will you choose and how long will you wait?
* * *
The Covid-19 situation has presented many challenges, and Italy has felt it more than most places in the world. From a legal perspective, there are incredible efforts like the "Sportello Legale", an initiative by 4cLegal to connect corporations and people with legal support including how to handle Force Majeure clauses, contracts, employment requirements and more.
In such a devastating time where mobility is restricted, the most pressing issue for the Legal Services industry itself is how to continue our work. The systems we’ve setup may have been from a time where everything was done in person and on paper. However, now there are many ways in which we can digitize our processes and also make them more efficient. At the moment, the obvious technologies we can utilize are ones for Video conferencing (like Zoom, Hangouts, Skype etc) and Cloud-based File Storage (google drive, OneDrive, Dropbox etc.) But this is a first step.
In this current COVID-19 crisis, the most pressing issue is how we can continue to work from home with each other and with new and existing clients. But what happens once the crisis stabilizes and passes over? How many lawyers and firms will find these tools “normal” to use? And the biggest question: What curiosity does it put in the hearts and minds of lawyers of a better way to run a legal practice? When it’s time to rebuild with such a fresh memory of the devastation, I believe most lawyers will look at the ethical and sustainable ways to rebuild and will approach the business of law fundamentally differently.
It is fascinating that we need to wait until desperate times to force a change in our behaviour. Unfortunate as it is, it ultimately presents an opportunity. The Legal World will need to take stock on how this COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent effects will create a fresh impetus to build more efficient legal services.
This pattern is not new, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis gave rise to “Legal Ops”: the methodology for efficient operation of in-house legal teams, who were asked to do more with less money in their budgets. This in-turn created momentum in developing and using efficient tools through technology to make in-house legal work. That force brought the LegalTech industry beyond a few eDiscovery giants being the only sizable companies applying technology to Legal Services, to an emergence and growth in the LegalTech ecosystem we see today.
The LegalTech Ecosystem continues to mature as more solutions using technology are developed and money is put into this side of the market. This will inevitably also take a dip with financial strains across the world - but this is precisely why it would be wise to consider a new model of practice. The interesting thing is, you won't be the first in the world - but you may be late if you don’t start!
Above all, I wish you safety and good health!