Attorney COVID Best Practices and Profitability
Covid-19 has forced the legal industry, like the rest of the world, to adapt or die off. Fortunately, the profession is capable of changing with the times. By adapting to modern technology, law firms can not only survive this pandemic, but thrive as well.
Working from Home
Covid-19 has eliminated the need for many employees to commute to work. The time typically required to drive to and from the office can be used to finish a brief or prepare a request for admissions instead. The firm itself may also save on overhead if it no longer has to pay for a commercial lease. Joining LegalMatch can lead to even greater savings: “When I joined LegalMatch (and it’s the only marketing platform I’m using) I cut my marketing overhead by eighty percent and I doubled my business.” – Clarke W., Wills, Trusts and Estates Attorney
Remote working also affords the luxury of a more comfortable environment. Employees can dress more relaxed (in their pajamas if they wish) outside of zoom meetings. They have all the comforts of their home without worrying about a supervisor looking over their shoulder all the time. Employees may increase productivity when they are more comfortable.
The biggest downside to remote working is that employees may find it more difficult to connect with other employees. Colleagues are still an e-mail away, but in-person presence can be comforting for some. Legal secretaries, paralegals, and other support staff may find it easier to simply knock on an attorney’s door rather than take 10 minutes to send a lengthy e-mail. Associate attorneys cannot brainstorm ideas or strategies over lunch. Law offices can still work together remotely, but there is a loss of comradely not easily replaced by e-mails or zoom meetings.
Personal and family life may also be a bigger distraction than anticipated. Parents with younger children may be forced to run a daycare alongside their legal practice. A household all working from home may hinder their internet capacity if they are all in meetings at the same time. A traditional office may offer a distraction-free and Wi-Fi capable setting for work. Productivity may suffer if the home-life cannot provide a stable work environment.
Remote Depositions and Trials
The biggest advantage of remote depositions is the time and expense saved on travel. Attorneys no longer have to travel to the deposition site. Attorneys and parties can simply open a video link and join the conference like any other meeting. Clients will appreciate the savings on billing time and travel expenses that come with reduced travel. Witnesses will save similar expenses and will probably be more comfortable in their own locations.
Discovery disputes may also be resolved faster. If a discovery referee’s presence becomes necessary, the referee can simply join the call at the appropriate time instead of having to travel and sit in the entire proceeding.
However, remote depositions are more difficult to control than a live deposition. Deposing attorneys cannot see what else is in the room with the witness. It is a good idea to obtain a stipulation that the witness will not look at their phone or read any e-mails, text messages, or other forms of communication during the deposition.
Similarly, the defending attorney cannot fully communicate with his or her client. It’s more difficult to determine if the witness is tired or uncomfortable. Background noise and/or interruptions may also become an issue if the parties do not choose their deposition location carefully or if privacy is difficult to achieve. For instance, young parents will need frequent breaks to monitor their children.
Ideally, everyone present at a remote deposition should have a decent web camera and a solid internet connection. Reality is often different from expectations. A witness might only have a cell phone. Counsel might be working from home and sharing their Wi-Fi with a spouse who may also have an important business meeting on zoom at the same time.
Working with and anticipating the limitation of technology is critical. Join the deposition’s audio by phone if you’ve experienced internet issues beforehand. Some court reporters offer “real-time transcripts” where you can see the transcript as the court reporter is typing each and every word. A real-time transcript can be streamed live if your video feed cuts off at random times.
Most video platforms today permit users to share screens. This is a useful function to keep everyone on the same page. However, not all video platforms have such an option and not all parties have the capacity to view documents on their devices. Deposing attorneys should consider sharing their exhibits within 24 hours of the deposition.
Work With LegalMatch in the New Normal
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced law firms to adapt in order to remain profitable. Family law attorney James J. states, “LegalMatch has positively affected my bottom line, especially during this COVID-19 crisis. It shows that there are people out there that need legal advice despite the crisis. LegalMatch allows me to reach out to more potential clients at little to no cost, when compared with other advertising services’ monthly fee.”
Justice doesn’t wait on a pandemic and neither should you. LegalMatch is committed to helping its members especially during these harrowing times.