2020 was a historic year for change. All of us were forced to adapt to the virtual world––on both a personal and professional level––as the world as we knew it became more and more disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing limitations. This resulted in the inception of “the new normal,” from which we are still operating today. As much as we’d like to be in denial, the new normal is here to stay, albeit in a less extreme fashion. The legal industry is no exception, despite the stubborn pushback from attorneys worldwide. Of course, fear of change, or metathesiophobia, is the biggest culprit behind this pushback, which has been almost as palpable as the changes themselves.
If your law firm failed to become comfortable with the changes 2020 brought us, it is in your best interest to do so now. Check out our Changists 5 list on the top five changes in the legal industry from 2020 that are setting up the landscape for the future of law. Don’t fall behind your competitors. Start evolving now. Make 2021 a year of growth, not a year of setbacks, by mastering the following changes.
- Increased legal tech integration
In order to stay competent and competitive, it is vital for your firm to reduce paperwork and outdated methods as much as possible in favor of streamlined legal tech options, such as the use of AI, eDiscovery, e-Billing, e-Signatures, Cloud services, contract lifecycle management, and legal process management systems. This shift results in various short and long-term benefits in terms of risk mitigation, profit maximization, and efficiency optimization.
2. A more positive approach towards work-life balance
Having to work-from-home had never been an option for most attorneys. Some may have never even considered it an option pre-2020. Having had a taste of this life, the difficulty––and importance––of maintaining a healthy work-life balance within the legal profession became impossible to ignore. Gone are the days when “living to work” was the standard; it has since been replaced by the motto of “working to live.” This shift in attitude will result in less billable hours, allowing lawyers more time to recalibrate their focus in order to eventually shape the practice towards having a more client-centric approach.
3. Prevalence of virtual trials and work-from-anywhere
Even though holding virtual trials poses many advantages, they are also encumbered by countless challenges, as is expected of any unplanned and rushed change. Holding in-person trials in the current climate is dangerous and irresponsible. If we want to succeed at mastering this aspect of the new normal, we need to master working-from-home––or, from-anywhere in due time––first. To facilitate this transition, we need to have a plan in place on how to tackle its biggest challenges––namely communication, teamwork, and productivity. We can expect more innovation surrounding cloud services, instant messaging platforms, and productivity trackers to curb these challenges. It is up to us whether we take advantage of these resources by becoming early adaptors or continue to struggle.
4. Stronger commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion
Corporate social responsibility, particularly regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, has been steadily gaining momentum as a cornerstone value of firms in recent years. We can expect this trend to skyrocket in 2021 and beyond due to the growing social unrest that took center stage in 2020. Clients are voting with their dollars and they are unafraid of holding the companies they invest in accountable. This is especially true for entities that claim to uphold justice. A firm cannot uphold justice without upholding social justice. Similarly, a firm cannot represent equity for their clients if equity within itself has yet to be established. Firms will expand their goals and mission to reflect their clients’ expectations by engaging in unorthodox methods surrounding recruitment and performance reviews. Beyond internal diversity, we can expect firms to harness the power of social media to attract a more diverse clientele as well.
5. Globalization of the practice of law
When handling a case completely remotely, your location has little to no effect on your likelihood of succeeding (holding everything else constant). Although it is unlikely that practicing across borders will become exactly commonplace in the near future, we are definitely on a path towards that end. Ironically, as restrictions and limitations on in-person procedures have increased, we are also seeing more expansion opportunities opening up for small to mid-size firms that had previously been reserved for BigLaw, effectively leveling the playing field. If there is one thing 2020 has taught us is to never say never. Our wildest dreams are more attainable now than they have ever been, so why should we hold back from being ambitious?
Which one of these are you most excited about? How have you managed to cope with these changes thus far? Keeping an open mind is necessary, now more than ever. This can make or break your business. Don’t let fear get in the way of your success. If you are unsure of where or how to start evolving, book a free consultation with us, The Changists, today and we’ll keep you from dissolving.