How Law Offices Are Staying Safe During COVID-19
COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, but legal troubles will wait for nothing. Now, more than ever, careful handling of how and when meetings and interviews are conducted has become essential for law firms around the world. There are plenty of steps that law offices are taking to be a safe environment for staff and clients during COVID-19.
Virtual Legal Services
Most people are getting tired of Zoom meetings filling up their days. That said, the benefits of offering virtual legal services have become clear over the past year. Some clients even prefer the flexibility and ease of virtual meetings. Clients have even begun to ask about or request virtual meetings during their initial consultation.
Clients who can not travel easily such as injured, incarcerated, or elderly clients are enjoying virtual meetings as well. Streamlining legal services in a way that is accessible by all can really open up the possibilities for new clients, especially in underrepresented communities.
Meeting remotely has also allowed for more collaboration between attorneys who have otherwise busy schedules. Reducing travel time between client meetings not only gives attorneys more time for other tasks, but the time savings can also increase a firm’s overall productivity. This means more time spent actively helping clients.
Masks have become an integral part of everyday life in the modern world. And even in a properly social-distanced office space, masks can reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19 or other contagions.
Communicating effectively and clearly while wearing masks has proven to be difficult for many industries. The sensitive nature of legal discussions can be difficult to convey when you take some valuable body language off the table. While meeting remotely eliminates some posturing, the micro-expressions everyone makes are often hidden behind a mask.
Social distancing has been defined in the zeitgeist as staying 6 ft away from other people. This act of separation can make collaboration difficult. Reviewing contracts or documents with a group has become a challenge as extra steps are needed to digitally render and share each page. Many law firms have already switched to paperless recordkeeping for the types of documents that allow it, so for them, this extra step is not as challenging.
The sharing of sensitive information through the internet has reinforced the need for a solid IT department and security measures since much more is available digitally. A law office is no stranger to the need for security, but with more valuable client data dangling in front of them, hackers and other cybercriminals have been tempted to increase their efforts as well.
One of the largest Covid-19 law office updates is the change to how offices are staffed. Cutting the number of personnel in the office is an easy way to adhere to social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Reducing staff sounds like a terrible thing, but it often does not mean people are losing their jobs. Many people enjoy working from home and see the elimination of their commute as a reward. Other staff members enjoy the extra space to spread out and organize their work. Many law offices have begun rotating staff with days working remotely and days spent in the offices.
The cost savings for employers that are gained from employees working from home have also been significant. A lot of companies have adapted their office management model to use less space and resources while giving employees more freedom and flexibility. The myth of a hardworking employee becoming too relaxed and unmotivated at home has been shown to be false.
The changes made to accommodate for COVID-19 will likely have long-term ripples in the way offices function. Many legal professionals dreams of an end to wearing masks at work or the day they can firmly shake their clients’ hands again. But, the added convenience and safety measures provide a great additional value for new and existing clients. Through smart adaption to new conditions, law firms will continue to flourish and provide new types of services.