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Silver linings for legal industry in COVID-19 crisis

By Doug Striker bio

 It would be tragic if nothing good came out of this worldwide pandemic. Yes, it is easy to focus on the terrible, awful things that are happening on a global scale and even in our own neighborhoods and families. But at the same time, we simply must also recognize that good things are developing out of this tragic, exceedingly difficult experience.

I recently heard a podcast on “99% Invisible” about the surprising silver linings that are emerging around the world due to our collective quarantine. People in Jalandhar, India can see the Himalayas from their city for the first time in decades because their air is cleaner. Researchers in Alaska can study whales without the incessant, deep roar of cruise ships on whale-watching tours. Pandas in a zoo conceived for the first time after 10 years of trying; veterinarians chalk the success up to a lack of stress from human visitors at the zoo.

Silver linings in the legal industry, too

I’m happy to report that there are silver linings in the legal industry, too. My personal favorite: Lawyers are starting to realize what many of us have known all along. If you don’t understand technology, you will be left behind. And COVID has accelerated both that fact and lawyers’ need for tech training.

I recently read several articles that back me up:

From AboveTheLaw

Author (and IMHO – genius!) Robert Ambrogi wrote an article titled, “7 Ways the Pandemic Will Forever Change Law Practice.” Number 1 on his list:

“1. Lawyers will no longer see technology as something to be feared.”

“Many lawyers [have] persisted in their ignorance and fear of technology, viewing it as a threat to their clients and themselves. In a matter of a month, any lawyers who still harbored fears of technology have of necessity come to see it as a lifeline to the survival of their practices and their continuing ability to serve their clients. Going forward, that will fundamentally reshape the legal profession’s use and adoption of technology.”

In fact, nearly all of the other 6 facts that Mr. Ambrogi shares in the rest of his article also point to attorneys needing to embrace technology.

  1. Lawyers will no longer see innovation as a threat to the “guild.”
  2. Regulatory reform will accelerate.
  3. Courts will accelerate innovation and online services.
  4. More legal services will be delivered remotely and online.
  5. Law firms will reduce their physical footprints.
  6. Legal education will be revamped.

Can you imagine being an attorney in this new reality and saying, “I don’t want to learn about [insert tech term here, such as Word, PowerPoint, the Cloud, eFiling, Document Management Systems, etc.]?” That attorney will be sitting at home alone, staring at a yellow legal pad, unable to serve his or her clients.

From Forbes

Additionally, Mark A. Cohen recently wrote an article for Forbes titled, “COVID-19 and the Reformation of the Legal Culture.” He wrote:

“COVID-19 … has cast a harsh light on the outdated way justice is dispensed, law is taught, and legal services are delivered. In a matter of weeks, law schools have transitioned to online learning, cracks in the partnership model law firms have become fissures, and technology is an operational lifeline. The Corona virus has harnessed the potential of underutilized tools and alternative work paradigms long resisted by the legal establishment. Entrenched ways of doing things have been altered with astonishing speed, ease, and acceptance.”

And from Aderant

“The right technology can enable your firm not only to operate as well as it does today – but also bring about improvements in collaboration, client communication, efficiency and security. This is the time to embrace the great cloud migration by going beyond technologies like email and document management to address all core law firm operations. This includes, but is not limited to, timekeeping, billing and compliance management and collaboration between attorneys, staff and clients.”

Technology training Is more important than ever

Okay, so attorneys are gaining new respect for technology, but that doesn’t mean they know how to use it yet. Now is the time to ramp up technology training in your law firm, which is actually easy to do even when everyone is working remotely. All you need is a robust learning management system (LMS) stocked with training materials that quickly and succinctly teach the platforms and skills that your attorneys and staff need. Additionally, this LMS must be cloud-hosted so that your employees can access training from the comfort of their homes.

 


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