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. View Part 1 and Part III of the survey here
More than 4 months have passed since the initial wave of shelter-in-place mandates, and lawyers across a broad spectrum of practice areas are reporting significant changes in workload. Not surprisingly, many practices initially slowed down, for a variety of reasons, such as court closures. And, as we’ll see below, now that many areas of the country are reopening, some law firms are experiencing an uptick in their workloads due to a number of different factors, including pandemic-related legal issues and lawsuits.
Attorneys are anticipating (and are most likely beginning to experience) an increase in their workloads. One primary reason for this is that as the courts began to reopen, judges started to move along their backlogged caseloads at a rapid clip. Consequently, a majority of lawyers (53%) expect to be increasingly busy, between drafting, receiving, and responding to motions, appearing in court, and fielding increased calls from clients, both old and new.
The survey results pointed to two primary reasons for the expectation that workloads would be “High” or “Overwhelmingly High” in the months to come. The top reasons reported were an influx of new clients (42%), and current cases moving forward (37%). The former can be attributed to a laundry list of factors — many borne out of the COVID-19 epidemic itself, such as an increase in domestic violence cases and divorce cases, and the many employment issues presented by the pandemic. The latter reason is due to cases on hold due to court (and temporary office) closures beginning to move forward as courts reopen.
Of the firms anticipating a “low” or “concerningly low” workload volume, the majority (72.5%) cited a lack of new clients. This is likely due to a number of factors, including a lower than normal number of arrests being made during quarantine, thus resulting in fewer new criminal matters. Another contributing factor was the reluctance of legal consumers to hire attorneys in the midst of a pandemic due to financial or other reasons.
View additional survey results gathered in June 2020 on the state of law offices amid COVID-19.
If you are currently facing challenges around reopening your firm amid the pandemic, reference this webinar, How to Safeguard Your Law Firm Against Future Disruption.
What is the most impactful change your firm has made related to COVID-19?
“Contactless service. Clients need not travel to our office, and can do everything remotely..” -Alan, DC Metro Immigration
“No visitors except by appointment policy will likely be long term; we will keep in place even after COVID-19.” -Rob, Ryan Law Firm
“Offering remote consultations to our clients.” -Deborah, Pittsburgh Family Law Services, PC
Take a look at our additional survey results on the state of law firm offices and outlooks on the future of legal.