COVID-19 and the need for lawyer mobility

The Covid-19 pandemic sent shockwaves across the world this year putting millions of people at risk and forcing most of the world to shelter in place, increasing the need for lawyer mobility. Times like these amplify everything. Nothing is normal, tried, or true. During the pandemic, states have been forced to ensure that the crisis is not worsened by indiscriminate travel or the gathering of people unable to maintain social distancing.  The coronavirus has forced an unprecedented shift to remote work for attorneys and their staff, and across many other industries. Law firms have found themselves being forced to practically reinvent themselves to accommodate their legal cases through remote access. It has pushed law firms into redirecting much of their staff to work from home or and for clients to connect with them virtually. In just a short period of time, entire firms moved out of the law office to makeshift home offices. 

In many cases, it took a global pandemic to expose the case management potholes that existed in the outdated legal software being used at many law firms. Attorneys are now reexamining their legal software and updating to a platform that does it all: Legal Practice Management Software, Legal CRM, Legal Billing, and Intake Software.

During uncertain times, having the best legal software can ensure seamless workflow and productivity and connectivity  Incorporating technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are enabling individuals to communicate effectively and to check in with any developments in their cases and files. Life is different now and in many ways, it will probably never return to the same status quo once the pandemic passes—and that is not necessarily a bad thing. By being forced to work remotely, many firms are realizing that with the right tools they can still operate efficiently and grow their firm.

There are legal software solutions available everywhere in the marketplace, but not everyone will fill the needs of your area of practice. Law case management software  from Law Ruler can streamline the daily operation of your office and effectively manage client and case records, appointments, documents, accounting and schedules. While practice management software for a law firm is not new, cloud-based software can provide law firms with 24/7 access to the firm’s data from anywhere and at anytime when using an internet enabled device.

In the past, law firms were cautious about utilizing cloud solutions because of perceived concerns over client confidentiality or any kind of spyware attack. But moving onto the cloud will protect data while increasing security and enhancing the day to day productivity of the firm and giving the staff the freedom of mobility. For example, because of the limited return to full operation of businesses across the country, and the limited access to court, an attorney on the cloud can have immediate access to data without having to rely on innumerable phone calls while some one else scrambles for the necessary information. However, the duty of technological competence exists, and means that attorneys must not only understand both the risks and benefits of technology as it relates to their specific needs, but also it is required that said attorney understands that reasonable precautions must be taken when it comes to the electronic transmission of confidential or sensitive data and he or she must take reasonable precautions to comply with this duty. At a minimum, the lawyer who works remotely has an obligation to be sure that all communications – whether phone calls, texts, video chats or emails – are conducted in a way that will minimize inadvertent disclosure. Attorney, partners, and staff must also design their workspaces in such a way as to not reveal confidential information in either electronic or paper form.

The cloud offers answers to remote work. Cloud providers are obligated to meet the most stringent compliance needs to prove that they are safe for government or multimillion-dollar businesses. Your firm will benefit from the emphasis on security, but you must also be aware that you must secure what you are putting into the cloud using the provider’s infrastructure. Because data is not stored or processed in a physical location, a lawyer working out of the office can access the newest version of a document because everything stored on the cloud is synchronized in real time and accessible from any internet activated device. With a cloud based case tracking management system added to the bundle,  a lawyer can easily keep track of his or her time, and get paid and settle matters faster because time and billing features are an important part of Law Ruler’s legal case management software.

A robust legal case management software will help to eliminate client frustration especially when face to face meetings are no longer part of the expected routine. Issues such as communication, unmet expectations or unclear timetables are managed better. This technology will help attorneys working remotely to build better, more successful relationships with his clients forming better partnerships and fostering improved   communication. Providing the best client service possible is crucial during these trying times. A client unable to work face to face with his attorney is already frustrated and having the best tools to calm that frustration is imperative. Software that will enable accuracy and produce fast high-quality output while managing risk has never been more important. Legal document automation software automates what is essentially the repetitive task of creating a document every time there is the need for a new contract. Many contracts, except for a few details and variations are similar leaving the documents to practically recreate themselves, reducing human error and cost while increasing speed and efficiency. Adopting cloud-based document automation software will drive business efficiency and innovation while driving down cost to clients (especially during these times when many are furloughed from their jobs), increase margin, and create consistency.

Remember to be mindful of any discrimination risks when setting up remote work policies. Federal, state, and local laws against discrimination in employment remain in effect, and employers should ensure that staff receives any necessary reasonable accommodations as the nature of the workplace changed and employees are asked to work with new technologies. Employers should also keep in mind that the stresses faced in these uncertain times by their staff and the potential for situations to arise that may negatively affect morale are bound to happen. By staying attuned to workplace dynamics and ensuring that employees are treating each other with respect, a sense of community can be fostered through teleworking while still promoting the firm’s policies and mission.

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