The rise of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus has had a vast impact on many industries around the world. For those in the legal profession, many questions have arisen. These include how to advise clients as well as how to seek out new clients while adhering to the requirements necessary to reduce the spread of the issue such as using masks and maintaining social distancing. Lawyers, like everyone else have been affected by this issue in many ways. A recent survey of over two hundred lawyers along with over two thousand legal consumers has helped illustrate exactly what’s happening right now and show where the future of the legal profession might be going forward.
Revenue is essential for all law firms to succeed. Many law firms choose to engage in pro bono work in order to help reach goals they believe in. In order to facilitate this process, law firms need to charge for their advice and assistance. In the midst of the pandemic, many law firms are reporting a decrease in revenue. In fact, more than four in five report revenues have dropped as the pandemic has unfolded. Of firms reporting a drop in the amount of money flowing into their coffers, about a quarter are reporting they’ve seen such funds shrink by more than half.
This is a serious concern for many firms as it can make it very hard for them to remain in the legal field. Roughly twenty percent have responded with layoffs as a direct result of the pandemic. Only one in twenty law firms have increased their marketing budgets.
Getting Back to Normal
For so many law firms, the biggest question is when they can expect to get back to normal. More than half of all respondents believe this process may take up to a year. In addition to fiscal issues, many law firms have also decided to change the way they do business. More and more, staffers are now working remotely. Not only are more law firms making use of remote workers. Once the worst of the pandemic has passed, law firms report they intend to have staffers continue to remain remote workers rather than coming into an office setting.
Clients who work with lawyers are also questioning how to get back to normal and what that might mean for them when it comes to the use of legal services. In general, clients much prefer to meet with a lawyer in person before hiring them. However, the pandemic has changed this view. Those who are seeking out legal counsel are now more willing to consider alternative means of hiring a lawyer. Instead of having an in-person meeting, they might be willing to communicate via the use of video conferencing and email.
Many clients are willing to hire a lawyer even in the middle of a pandemic. For those who are not looking for a lawyer at the present time, the biggest obstacle remains the costs involved.
As legal professionals look to the future, questions and concerns remain. One thing is clear: the road ahead is likely to be very long.