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6 Ways Your Legal Career Might Change Post-Lockdown

  • June 2, 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has affected all sectors. Just how much of an impact it has had on the legal industry will not be ascertained for many months, but we can, however, expect some changes in the coming weeks and months.

The lockdown has caused an economic slow-down which experts are predicting will lead to a recession. Your practice will likely change in certain areas, as some specialisms lose custom, while others remain buoyant or expand.

Consequently, your role might look different as you return to work – but how?

In this blog, we look at the ways we can expect your legal career to change post-lockdown.

1. Increased Remote Working

Firstly, there is a good chance that if you have been working from home during the lockdown, you could be asked to continue doing so.

The efficiency with which many practices went fully digital has made employers aware of the benefits of this working model.

Some have found it easier than others, with a lack of working space or a proper home office set-up.

  • Is your firm’s cloud-based software running smoothly or will it need to be improved if remote working is here for the long-term?
  • Are you as productive remote working as you were in the office?

If you have enjoyed working from home, there might be a possibility for you to continue to do so either part or full-time. You might have to think about how this could impact your home life if you need to set up a permanent home office space or upgrade your technology.

Speaking of technology, let’s look at the importance of digital legal services in the post-lockdown legal arena.

2. Going Digital

Working from home has made many legal employees realise the importance of being able to connect with clients digitally.

Caroline Fox, Principal Attorney at CJFox Law PLLC, highlighted the importance of this recently, stating:

“Lawyers need to be up-to-date on technology, including secure forms of video communication. We need to know how to securely access documents and enable quick, efficient communication with our staff and clients.”

“New lawyers need to be taught how to mail certified letters, when and where to send important documents, how to send a fax (with or without a fax machine), and other seemingly “trivial” administrative tasks that are the backbone of the legal practice.”

If home working is going to a part of your longer-term plan, you must now think about how you need to change to be able to give 100% service consistently.

Keep your manager and Senior Partners updated as to where digital services need to be improved. Inform them of what is working well and if any of your digital services need updating, such as digital document signing software or investing in new video platforms.

3. Lockdown’s Impact on Family Law

The two-month lockdown has created a surge in some legal specialisms. Family law is one area which has seen a dramatic increase, with matters of divorce, childcare and domestic violence issues featuring heavily.

Forced living arrangements have brought family tensions to a head, with a reported increase in divorce rates in both China and America, with the UK expected to follow suit. Families who unfortunately find they can’t resolve their issues will be seeking legal advice in the weeks and months following lockdown.

If you specialise in family law, you can expect an increase in business. Are your team prepared? You might have to think about enlisting help from other departments (more on this later) or expanding your team to deal with the influx.

4. Employment Law Issues

Lawyers dealing with employment law will see a surge as we emerge fully from lockdown. Clients will be trying to navigate the economic slow-down and manage their employees.

With the highly changeable situation regarding temporary workers in some sectors, clients will need extra guidance in these areas. Many commercial organisations have hired staff on short contracts en-mass for the first time and made changes to permanent workers’ contracts – all of which come with their legal implications.

Additionally, with the inevitable redundancies in some sectors, this is predicted to lead to an increase in legal action with employees believing that they have been mistreated or let go illegally.

Additionally, there could be an increase in workplace disputes during the return to work over the coming months. There is already unease among some employees not wanting to return to work in regards to workplace safety and childcare issues.

The unusual situation we are in will likely create unprecedented lawsuits.

5. Slowed-Down Specialisms

As with every period of economic slow-down, law firms will see a reduction in some specialisms.

Conveyancing is one area expected to be affected. The two-month ban on house viewings and government guidance not to move unless it was necessary meant the residential housing sector came to a standstill.

Some firms are also reporting a decrease in activity across numerous sectors, as clients try to cut back on using legal services to cut costs in the short term. But this short-term cut back will only increase clients needing legal services in the longer-term.

A recent McKinsey report on the impact of COVID-19 on law firms highlighted that law firms historically weather downturns better than the overall economy.

It is important to remember that a natural dip in the market has not caused the recent economic problems; it has been a forced slow-down due to the virus. This means that if a vaccine is found, or when the majority of businesses are open again, the economy could rebound quickly.

Finally, we look at how specialisms will need to adapt to ensure the survival of the firm.

6. Cross-Functional Teams

Many Practices are finding that a solution to the coronavirus crisis is to put together cross-functional teams. This means working with members of your firm that you haven’t previously; it involves a big shift in the dynamic of your team and will include creating new working relationships and possibly working in unfamiliar territories.

We can’t be certain yet as to where the real opportunities will be, but in the next few months, it will become clear which specialisms and client types will be critical to your success.

What Next?

There is going to be a wide range of demand across many legal specialisms as we go forward. Opportunities will appear in different areas, and the future of your legal career might not be with your current employer.

If you would like a conversation about what opportunities are available to you right now in the emerging market, call us on 01772 259 121 or get in contact here.

About Clayton Legal

Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help.  Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

If you would like to know more about recruiting trends in the legal sector this year, download our latest guide here.

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