How will the inevitable lockdown affect your law firm business?
The events taking place around the world can only be described as a scene from a movie. The outbreak and the spread of the novel COVID-19 virus were unexpected and have put everything on halt. Our freedom has been limited, favorite restaurants closed, and contracts postponed for the betterment of the society.
The justice department has also received its fair share of impact, with courts suspended indefinitely. What does this mean for law firms? Even though courts are temporarily closed, that doesn’t mean people don’t need legal representation. Countries are initiating lockdowns to try and curb the spread of this virus. Let’s see how this decision will affect your law firm business.
Working from Home
For starters, a gathering of more than five people in one place has been prohibited, which means offices have to shut down. Law firms have been forced to close down offices in countries such as China and Italy, where the rate of infection has skyrocketed. This means it’s only a matter of time before the same is done in the US. Office-based lawyers are working from home, but this has brought its own challenges as well.
No Face-to-Face Consultation
The restrictions on unnecessary movement mean there won’t be much of face-to-face consultation with your clients. All consultations will have to be conducted online or through phones. All documents that need to be signed will have to be signed electronically.
It was successfully done in China, and other countries are considering this option if the situation doesn’t improve. The use of a video communication system will have to be established for such a trial to take place. In China, for example, a Beijing judge allowed such a system to be used to settle a private loan dispute. Getting familiar with such systems will make your work a bit easier. The legal system allows video testimonies under certain conditions, and it might take it to accommodate the current conditions.
A halt in some Cases
Cases with high stakes will be given top priority, which will force a halt in those with little priority. You might have to prepare your clients psychologically so that they don’t get disappointed when such an announcement is made.
Accumulation of Unsettled Court Cases
It’s common to have pending court cases in any law firm. However, you should brace yourself during this period as the number of pending cases will double, depending on the time it might take to handle the COVID-19. The continuing cases might take more than you anticipated due to the shortage of staff and working in a new environment.
Law firms rely on their clients to generate revenue. While retained clients might continue pumping money to your law firm, you will still experience a revenue reduction during this period. You’ll be forced to pay for office spaces that you aren’t using and still keep your staff, such as secretaries and paralegals, on the payroll. This will have an effect on your revenue and will force you to rethink your strategies.
With no way of knowing when this pandemic will be contained, law firms and other businesses will be forced to adapt and change their ways of doing business. You might want to be innovative in providing services to your clients while not exposing them to the outbreak or breaking any regulations set aside by the governments to keep the public safe.
It’s also time for your law firm to start investing in video streaming technologies in case such a procedure is allowed. Passing this advice to your clients might help to smooth the transition and ensure everyone is on the same page when the time comes.