Editor’s note: To follow up on an initial COVID-19 survey revealing the financial, operational, and individual challenges attorneys are facing during COVID-19, MyCase recently launched a second nationwide survey exploring the state of law offices, current workload, and predictions for the future of the legal industry. What follows are the findings of our June 2020 survey responses collected from a broad range of legal professionals.
As states amend restrictions on businesses operating out of their physical offices, law firms are continually adjusting their operational protocols to reflect the uncertainties of the pandemic. In this post, you’ll learn about the key challenges law firms are facing, how they’re approaching their collaborative workspace, and what actions they’re taking to future-proof their business against further disruption.
Having gauged the impact of COVID-19 on the legal profession in early Spring, the survey found that a majority of attorneys closed their office doors, many transitioning swiftly to remote offices and adopting new technology, like videoconferencing, to help with the transition. Though a number of initial challenges remain the same for firms currently in operation, our latest survey results affirmed significant changes in the status of the offices themselves.
Based on the June survey results, 40% of respondents are operating in their physical office whereas only 18% of firms are operating exclusively remotely. This leaves 38% of firms partially open with a portion of staff operating remotely.
Then & Now
Many firms are returning their physical workspace. Back In April, 87% of firms surveyed were operating remotely in some capacity; that number has since dropped to 56%. This 36% decrease in law firms working remotely suggests that attorneys were able to reopen as states relaxed their orders on essential businesses. These numbers will likely continue to fluctuate based on geographical location and public policies, so we can infer that the future state of law firms regarding remote and in-office work remains uncertain.
18% of firms are still fully remote. Survey results revealed that of these firms, the majority have no proposed timeline of when they will once again restaff their offices. For these firms, there don’t appear to be any definitive trends toward reopening within a certain amount of time.
With the CDC and WHO reporting increases in COVID-19 cases over recent weeks, law firms are taking a number of approaches to fortify and future-proof their businesses against prolonged interruption — notably adopting or continuing to use cloud-based technology, as reported by 77% of respondents. Others are putting office safety at the forefront by implementing new policies (57%) or purchasing PPE equipment (47%). In efforts to maintain financial stability, 45% of firms have opted to create new business offerings (ex. drive-through document signing and notary services). This speaks to the urgency of better accommodating new and existing clients in a climate where expectations of legal services are rapidly changing.
From April to June, the challenges attorneys are experiencing haven’t changed drastically. Maintaining financial stability remains the #1 challenge as reported by 36% of law firms now in contrast to 49% when first surveyed. Interestingly enough, client-related challenges, such as meetings, collecting payments, and obtaining signatures, are slightly more prevalent now than they were when shelter-in-place mandates were first introduced.
If you are currently facing challenges around when and how to reopen your firms, reference this webinar, How to Safeguard Your Law Firm Against Future Disruption.
What actions have you taken, if any, to ensure your office reopens safely?
“PPE (masks and gloves) provided to staff and clients, no contact protocols in place, social distancing requirements, plexiglass installations, extensive employee training to include constant disinfecting of workspaces and disinfecting between each outside person entering office (restricted to one at a time).” -Jessica, Ikon Law
“We have adopted cleaning procedures and are meeting with clients remotely when possible.” -Monica, Briones Business Law Consulting, P.C.
“We have all staff working at home, all client meetings are virtual, using online signatures and notarization. We’re making it as easy as possible for clients.” -Michelle, Howser & Associates