When the year 2020 started, most businesses still had normalcy in their day to day practice and services. However, when March 2020 lockdowns began as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, only a few, if any, got by unphased. The legal industry was also impacted as the number of legal matters to be opened went into a decline of over 30% since the start of the year. Reports saw a 56% decline in requests for legal assistance by the general population. Many people either stated that they would delay reaching out for assistance if they did have legal issues, or that they simply did not know that services were running at all due to the pandemic.
That hasn’t stopped most law firms from re-evaluating their approach to the ever-changing world. As with everyone else, many law firms needed to learn how to adapt to a pandemic world and not lose focus on their true mission. To dedicate themselves and their focus towards the needs of the clients. Despite the decline in requests for legal assistance, issues were far from absent. Clients will continue to need law firms but need to be reached in new ways. Legal workers needed to change their ways of keeping themselves and their clients safe while still meeting the client’s needs.
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Technology Has Been a Huge Factor
Technology has been a huge factor in adapting to a pandemic world. Law firms have welcomed in a new era of online interactions with their clients that allow for online meetings and payments rather than physically meeting face to face. Law firms have also managed to stay afloat due to transitioning to online payment methods as it has reduced the time and hassle of mailing and processing invoices from paper. Professionals in the legal industry found in a survey that law firms that accept online payments have had a 39% increase in payment speed.
The needs of the clients have changed throughout the pandemic as well. Although many clients still have the same needs as before the pandemic, the pandemic itself has caused new needs to emerge. Law firms have shown dedication to continuing to meet the needs of both the pre-pandemic world, the current pandemic world, and expect to adapt to the needs of a post-pandemic world.
The Pandemic Has Forced Law Firms to Change
With Covid-19 affecting the health of so many people across the world, many clients both young and old, have had to consider changing or creative legal documents such as living wills. Some law firms have stepped in to fill this need by either offering discounted or free services to those in high exposure professions.
Law firms in some states such as Florida and Iowa began offering teachers that were required to return to classrooms during the pandemic, living wills for free. John Dalli, a Bronx nursing home abuse lawyer, was among some of the lawyers that offered to help teachers at no cost. A Pensacola attorney, Robert Allen, went as far as to say he viewed teachers as being like that of first responders as they have and still are, risking their health for a stronger economy. These are prime examples of how law firms are dedicating their focus on their clients amid a pandemic.
The Pandemic Has Created Lasting Change
The dedication of law firms will not stop when the pandemic ends. The pandemic will create lasting change in the legal industry in how law firms offer services and their preparedness should disaster strike again. Being forced to work remotely due to lockdowns and social distancing measures has already proven that services and meeting the clients’ needs can be done successfully through online platforms and new technology. Law firms that discovered the efficiency of online payment methods will likely retain that practice rather than return to multiple day payment processing. Online technology also offers the possibility of reaching a larger client population as in-person meetings may no longer be necessary.
John Harrity, co-founder and the managing partner of Harrity & Harrity law firm states that all employees are already equipped to be able to work remotely from home with all the same office setups available in their homes. Harrity & Harrity is also entirely paperless and cloud-based so that all documents and systems are accessible by employees as necessary should they be working in an office setting, or remotely from home. Although we don’t truly know how long until we will be free of the pandemic, law firms will continue to meet the needs of clients even post-pandemic. As the world heals and states reopen for business, new legal matters will arise that will require attentive law firms to assist with. Many of those law firms will have new platforms to work with that will better suit the needs of the clients. Law firms may have had a decline in business, but they will continue to work hard for their clients for many years to come.
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