Since the pandemic, the legal industry has faced significant changes and challenges. But as we begin to move past the immediate impact and into the aftermath, it’s time to start thinking about the longer-term. What will the legal industry look like post Covid-19? And how can law firms continue to adapt?
Flexible working has become much more common across industries in general, the legal sector being no exception. For an industry rooted in tradition, it’s been a challenge for some law firms to adapt. Working from home, whilst dealing with a higher legal demand for services and remote hearings – this is not how solicitors were trained to work.
Family Law has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. With a substantial increase in divorce and domestic violence matters, family lawyers have had to work around the clock even when away from the office to ensure that their clients’ needs are being met. Even before the pandemic, there have been pilot schemes in place to test the effectiveness of out of hours court sessions and later working.
There’s no doubt that the traditional 9 to 5 approach to office life has been well and truly put to the test and whether that continues to be the norm remains to be seen.
Remote hearings: perks and problems
Remote hearings have been one of the biggest changes for legal professionals. Though it’s been extremely useful for cases to continue despite lockdown restrictions, it hasn’t been an easy journey.
Remote hearings have been reported to feel slightly artificial, and both legal professionals and clients have shared concerns that the gravitas of the occasion might be lost. Attendance at court can help people recognise the seriousness of a situation, and there’s some concern that remote hearings feel more laid-back and informal.
Whether remote hearings are a friend or foe depends entirely on the circumstances. The Law Society has found that remote hearings have worked really well for simple or short hearings involving only judges and advocates, and for commercial matters. In contested and protracted family cases, or where you have witnesses who are vulnerable, the jury’s still out (pardon the pun) on remote court hearings.
Can solicitors work from home?
Nearly everyone’s had to work from home in some capacity since the pandemic began. And even as people head back to the office, a lot of businesses have introduced hybrid working as a permanent policy. Will law firms follow suit?
As we’ve said above, law firms have had to become much more flexible, and working from home has a big part to play in that. In a post-pandemic world, we will rely more heavily on technology. Future lawyers will need to demonstrate they can work with a multiple of software and hardware with flexibility and show their digital expertise. Fortunately for us, we’ve never shied away from keeping up with the times, so this hasn’t been too much of a challenge here at Harrogate Family Law.
The law will always be a people industry. Clients need that face-to-face interaction with their lawyers. Family law cases often involve sensitive and complex issues. It’s difficult to navigate those together without in-person meetings. Clients may not feel as comfortable or supported if everything is discussed through a screen.
There’s no doubt that a return to the way things were before isn’t on the cards. It’s likely that some of the changes will remain and law firms will have to adapt. At Harrogate Family Law, that’s what we’re striving for, in a way that ensures the very best care for our clients in the safest possible way. Ultimately, we want our clients to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible throughout their legal journey.
If you want to work with a family law firm that always puts clients at the centre, call us today.