COVID-19: Mass Remote Workforces and New Client Demands Shake Up Legal World
Evolver Legal Services is committed to helping the legal community navigate the threats of COVID-19. For information on services to assist in a shift to remote work and adapting to your clients’ concerns, contact us to discuss our experience with remote work support, hosting for legal clients, compliance expertise, and outsourced IT support.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges across the entire economy, creating a shared state of instability. The legal community faces unique challenges due to the sensitive nature of shared documents, case protocols, and an unprecedented crush on technology resources while still working to protect employees from the spread of the infectious disease. Here are two major categories of challenges in the wake of the world’s response to the novel coronavirus.
Virtual Casework and the Strain on Secure, Remote Infrastructure
Many companies are experiencing a crash course in remote workforce management. But even legal firms that have previously instituted remote work policies are now experiencing significant strain on their servers, VPN access, and communication platforms.
The larger the law firm, the more moving pieces have to be accounted for when adapting to Social Distancing. More than 60 large law firms have had to announce their move to long-distance employee interaction. Firms with offices in major metropolitan areas will see more orders along the lines of shelter-in-place and mandatory workforce reduction. For smaller firms that have not previously dealt with virtual work, state regulatory action could force them to close their physical offices regardless.
Putting most or all of a company’s staff on remote status introduces a litany of protocol issues. Are all employees safely guarding client data? Are data being properly backed up and secured? The World Economic Forum has recently put out a call for businesses to be aware of cybersecurity, listing three top reasons: increased dependency on digital infrastructure raises the cost of failure, an overall rise in opportunistic cybercrime, and riskier behavior associated with more time online, including a breakdown in phishing protocols.
A Global Pandemic Changes the Face of Client Needs and Upcoming Business
The ascent of Social Distancing means new legal realities for clients and firms. Clients may have specific requests related to the virus that now put firms in HIPAA compliance territory. The move of entire industries to virtual workspaces now increases the threshold of events that could invoke GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) or CCPA (the California Consumer Privacy Act). Major industry events in the legal community have also been cancelled. Conversations with vendors or trade experts in specialized disciplines such as eDiscovery have been put on hold.
There will be months or potentially years of confusion regarding the legal response to this novel coronavirus and subsequent efforts to contain it. While regulatory bodies like the European Union attempt to suspend rules that interfere with pandemic response, many clients will still have questions about the applicability of these relatively new rules. Making sure in-house legal experts aren’t overtaxed with these kind of questions will become crucial in the time to come.
These events also compel firms to think farther ahead in regards to caseload and subject matter expertise. Lawsuits related to the insurance industry are already piling up, which will require some firms to shift their personnel strategy and seek technology solutions to either fully pivot or expand an existing line of business.
The community as a whole is working out the long-term implications and best practices to navigate the response to COVID-19. One of the best things legal professionals can do is stay informed and remain mindful of the changing landscape. For its part, Evolver Legal Services continues to adapt its service catalog to best assist our client family and new clients in need of expertise consulting. We will continue to update the community with needed information as the situation unfolds.