With the abrupt move to remote work, Zoom is seeing usage skyrocket. The video conferencing program has become an essential business tool literally overnight.
But to work remotely well, you need to do more than issue laptops to every employee or purchase a few virtual communication tools. You need collaboration, transparency, real-time analytics, task management, and more.
Let’s be honest…
If your business doesn’t have the right software, processes, or culture in place, you’re probably struggling right now managing a remote workforce.
Everyone is talking about Zoom. And Zoom is great. My company relies on Zoom now more than ever for internal and external meetings.
But Zoom is just a bandaid for lawyers who are getting banged up and bruised from working remotely for the first time. Cloud-based practice management solutions, like Litify, are the cure.
How Law Firms Will Adapt
COVID-19 is unlike any moment in modern history.
Along with every other painful disruption of everyday life, people around the world are being forced to rethink what ‘work’ looks like. What do employees actually need to accomplish tasks and drive revenue?
Do they require commuting to a designated location to work in a cubicle? Can business go on without access to printers or fax machines, office phones or large conference rooms?
After a few weeks of working remotely, most businesses are realizing that these work ‘necessities’ may soon become antiquated relics—never to return after stay-at-home orders are lifted.
Here’s what else I see:
1. Lawyers Will Have to Adapt to Client Communication Preferences
Working from home has caused a shift in client communication. In-person meetings and depositions are nixed, with a greater reliance on video conferencing. But some clients simply want answers, and the coronavirus pandemic has forced law firms to become more flexible to accommodate them.
More lawyers are stepping away from traditional forms of communication to instead ask clients how they want to be contacted. The firms that we work with have said they’re using everything from text messages and email to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to update clients on their case status.
This shift to fast, mobile communication has also made client portals less of a pipe dream and more of a reality. Client portals are a win-win. They allow clients to know exactly what’s going on with their case at any time of the day, and they save law firms time by cutting out precious minutes playing phone tag or sending multiple emails back and forth.
This adoption of new methods of client communication will continue—clients will demand it—and we may see some law firms forego in-person meetings altogether once the crisis subsides.
2. More Law Firms Will Embrace Remote Work Post COVID-19
I don’t think businesses will rush to cancel office leases just yet. But I do think that law firms that once shunned remote work will see that work can go on from home.
Many businesses may adopt new flex work arrangements and part-time remote work. If we can avoid long commutes a few days a week, why shouldn’t we?
With new remote work policies will come the need for mobile software that allows employees to seamlessly transition from the office to their homes.
3. The Surge of Remote Work Will Make Some Office Staples Obsolete
To my earlier point above, working remotely requires new software and tools.
With employees no longer having access to office staples like envelopes or stamps, they’re relying on email more.
No physical office phone? Time to download cloud-based phone systems, and dial out from a computer or mobile device.
Since they can’t print documents, they’re using document management software to save and share important records.
Without the ability to mail or scan contracts, they’re using e-signature for the first time.
And while they use secure e-signature, the question looms: Why is the legal industry still reliant on notaries?
The list goes on and on. What we’re seeing is that we can do so much with just our laptop and smartphone. These are really the only physical ‘office supplies’ we need in 2020.
4. We Only Need Our Laptop—and the Cloud
You can walk away from the office and resume work on your laptop if you’re on the cloud.
Cloud-based solutions are no longer a ‘nice to have.’ They’re a necessity. This crisis can’t make it any more clear.
The businesses that were ahead of the curve and had invested in cloud-based solutions prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 are reporting that they are relatively business as normal. They switched to a paperless office and adopted mobile-friendly, digital-first strategies and it’s paying off. These law firms were able to send employees home knowing they had access to everything they need to be successful:
- Access to documents, files, and case records
- Ability to contact and collaborate internally and externally
- Clear expectations, thanks to online task management solutions
- Transparency into the business, knowing who is doing what and on which matter
- Access to real-time data, with the ability to benchmark individual performance
A Forced Reckoning for the Legal Industry
Prior to COVID-19, it was a running joke that law was years, if not decades, behind other industries that were embracing technology. The joke is no longer funny.
The legal industry is being forced to confront the consequences of a long history of running from change and neglecting innovation.
If the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t cause managing partners to seek out cloud-based practice management solutions for their firms, their employees will ask for it. Employees who are frustrated by the obstacles that working from home present when you lack the right equipment.
I believe this is Litify’s ‘Zoom moment.’ If you want to know how to become one of the law firms I mentioned above who are operating business as usual, let’s talk.
Terry Dohrmann is a founding executive and Chief Revenue Officer at Litify.