Looking Ahead – How Will Law Firms Be Different After This Pandemic?

Work Remotely

The law industry has learned so much from recent events.

Employees can work remotely. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 30% of the workforce worked remotely. Now, in the midst of the pandemic, approximately 85% of the workforce is working offsite. Going forward, it is estimated that 50% of the workforce will continue to work remotely.

Due to this increase, it has become more important to ensure that remote workers are compliant with the firm’s technological policies. To this end, each firm should update their technology policy to include:

  • Remote bandwidth cannot be less than a predetermined speed.
  • Personal internet passwords must be secure. Most firms are requiring dual factor authentication.
  • Personal devices must be approved by the firm and not shared with family or friends.
  • As updates occur, all employees using personal equipment must continue compliance.
  • Firms may restrict BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) equipment. All equipment must be firm supplied or firm approved.
  • All employees should participate in cybersecurity training on a regular basis. This training can be administered remotely.
  • Many clients have technology requirements. All employees must be aware and comply with these requirements, as well. It is imperative that employees do not improperly share any confidential information.
  • Regularly discuss policies with all employees and owners.
  • Employees need to be educated on proper protocols with respect to online meetings such as Zoom. Many meetings are recorded, so any misconduct will be documented.
  • Continually encourage employees to report anything they believe to be an issue, even if it turns out to be the employee’s mistake.
  • Employees must have a technical contact to whom they may report technical issues and concerns or from whom they may receive technical help.
  • Many courts in various districts may allow remote appearances.
  • All employees must read and sign the firm’s remote work policy.

Firms can become more efficient thereby needing less employees.

  • While working remotely, many employees are becoming more technically advanced.
  • By properly utilizing software applications, firms should become more efficient, thereby needing less human interaction.
  • Firms should continue to educate employees to the nuances of software applications.
  • If a company ignores this trend, it will become less profitable than its competitors.
  • As more people are working remotely, the more efficient firms will prioritize workflow and monitor it more frequently.

By working remotely, firms can save money on rent.

  • As leases expire, tenants will probably require less space.
  • Firms should reevaluate space requirements for all locations. Some locations may no longer be necessary.
  • Again, it is expected that 50% of the workforce will probably continue to work remotely.
  • Some employees may need to work onsite only some of the time.
  • It may make sense for employees to share offices and/or cubicles, assuming routine cleaning procedures are in place.
  • More meetings will most likely occur electronically so that less in-person meetings will be necessary. This means that less conference room space will likely be required for meetings. Conversely, the updating of meeting applications may become necessary.

Expect costs to shift from employee and rent to technology and software applications.

  • Firms should reevaluate existing technology. Many firms will want to move to the cloud and employ integrated document management solutions.
  • Reevaluating technological structures will take a lot of manpower and will initially have an impact on the firm’s short-term profitability, but there will be a return on investment.
  • It is expected that over 85% of professionals will perform some work via their smart phones and tablets. These devices will need to be integrated with the firm’s main databases.

Expect travel to be reduced.

  • Clients will probably not require as many in person meetings.
  • Retreats may be cancelled going forward.
  • Annual association events may be conducted remotely. Some events may become biannual.

Expect cyber security insurance to become more necessary and premiums to increase.

  • All cyber liability insurances and their premiums should be reevaluated.
  • Expect clients to require proof of insurance with minimum limits.
  • Expect professional liability insurance policies to include disclaimers.
  • All policies should be thoroughly reviewed.
  • Firms should require all business partners to provide certificates of insurance regarding their policies and limits. If a business partner is a primary provider, the firm might discuss being named in the policy.

Expect taxes to increase.

  • Employee taxes may be reduced as workforces are reduced.
  • But, in the short term, all taxes will probably increase to offset governmental shortfalls.
  • It is important that firms budget for additional taxes. Firms should check with their respective accountants for guidance.

Summary.

Because the landscape of most businesses is changing, the businesses that review and analyze specific aspects of their operations have a better chance of thriving than ones who may take the “we’ve always done it this way” approach.

Published by: Zolasuite.com

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