This is an unsettling and chaotic period of no longer business-as-usual for every industry, and the legal practice is no exception. While we are all trying to stay safe and relatively production, a tsunami of change is overwhelming us.
Clio, one of the largest law firm management systems, published a survey of law firms to assess the impact of the Pandemic on the practice.
Generally, the report confirms what we have been experiencing first hand – that the practice has been significantly affected by social restrictions and we are seeing reduced client demands. This is notwithstanding the ongoing need for legal services. Here are some of the findings:
- Law firms have seen a drastic deceleration in new matter creation. Since the start of 2020, the number of new legal matters being opened each week has decreased by more than 30% compared to a baseline average of weekly matters opened during the first five weeks of 2020. When compared to the brief increase at the end of February, the number of new weekly matters dropped a total of 40%.
- 77% of law firms agree that their day-to-day operations have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.
- Lawyers expressed widespread concern over the future success of their businesses and their ability to make ends meet. Much of this concern is likely due to the majority of firms having seen a drastic decrease in the number of people reaching out for legal services.
- Legal professionals take the novel coronavirus outbreak seriously. Only 11% of legal professionals agree that social restrictions are an overreaction to the virus. Additionally, 75% of legal professionals report higher levels of stress and anxiety.
- 50% of legal professionals are more concerned for their financial future than for their personal health.
- Lawyers are still essential but will need to adapt to client needs. Overall, public perception of lawyers remains significantly positive for lawyers among the general population. 77% see lawyers as an essential service. However, many consumers also perceive barriers in terms of cost and the accessibility of legal services.
- 38% of consumers agree that a remote hearing would negatively impact their case outcome.
The pandemic has exacerbated the issues that lawyers have been facing over the past two decades. We can no longer play the ostrich and stick our heads in the sand. We need to become proactive in adapting to the changes we are facing. We must – in order to survive – re-imagine how we meet clients wherever they are located to deliver services that are professional and affordable. Technology will only advance our goal of servicing our clients.
For a summary of the report go to: https://www.clio.com/resources/legal-trends/covid-impact/
For a full copy of the report go to: https://www.clio.com/resources/legal-trends/