As the world adjusts to shelter-in-place orders and social distancing, every industry will face unique challenges. For years, many legal professionals have imagined that our work is recession-proof. The truth is, we are not immune to the effects of economic strain. In order to survive this pandemic, we’ll need to make sweeping changes to the way we think about litigation.
Today, we’re reviewing some of the changes we’ve seen so far:
Both consumers and corporations have been making budget cuts wherever possible. Shelter-in-place orders and ongoing quarantine measures have led to a sharp decrease in new litigation and forced many to pump the breaks on ongoing cases. Although the demand for legal services is higher than ever, both law firms and e-discovery companies have been forced to lay off workers. These layoffs disproportionately impact regional companies, which often have less money available to continue operations without government support.
With more and more attorneys working from home, strong internet connections are critical. Most e-discovery procedures involve extremely large data sets, which are very difficult to manage over shared residential bandwidth. Unfortunately, those working from home are sharing their signal with other members of the household. This means that at any given time, the device traffic coming from one household or neighborhood may be too heavy for necessary work. Currently, internet service providers are recommending connecting devices directly to the modem to avoid signal interference.
New Phishing Schemes
For years, law firms and other companies in the legal industry have worked to fend off increasingly sophisticated digital attacks. In the midst of the global pandemic, hackers have taken advantage of our decreased security. The two most common threats? Email phishing schemes and malicious Facebook group posts.
Oftentimes, would-be hackers will make contact via unofficial Facebook groups (such as those dedicated to coronavirus response). Even the simple act of clicking a harmful link can set off a chain reaction and allow others to access your files. It’s important to use extra caution before clicking links from individuals or news sources that you don’t recognize. Additionally, you may be exchanging passwords and remote access information frequently these days. Consider sharing that information over the phone rather than through email, and always double-check that the domain of the address you’re writing.
With jury trials all but impossible, mediation is becoming increasingly common. Mediation can be fully remote, which allows you to further your case while minimizing the strain on local court resources. After gathering client consent and setting the time, simply send a video link to all parties and begin the process. After mediation, your settlement agreement can be shared and signed via email.
Increased Demand for Employer Counseling
Although the demand for legal help has been rising across the industry, perhaps the most dramatic change is the increase in companies requesting legal assistance. Many employers are unsure of their obligations to their employees (especially those who cannot come into the office due to voluntary self-isolation or mandatory shelter-in-place orders). Lawyers are helping to establish policies for continued operations through remote work. For many, this means shifting focus away from their preferred specialty and helping businesses issue guidance to their employees and provide reasonable accommodations.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, let us know in the comments and feel free to share it on social media. As you adapt to remote working, please feel free to reach out to us with any questions. Remember: we’re here for you from File Thru Trial™.