Recovery after Covid-19 and thriving in the recession

I’m sure a lot of lawyers and law firms are struggling to cope with the lockdown, even as thoughts turn to recovery after Covid-19. Many aren’t set up for homeworking, social distancing or self-isolation. And it’s all happened so quickly there has been very little time to prepare. Yet this is when your clients’ minds are really focused on what’s important to them, and they’ll be looking to you for advice and to set contingencies in place.

Here are some suggestions – from my own experience and the experience of others close to me – on how you might manage recovery after Covid-19 in the short-term, the medium-term and in the longer term.

Ease of access to files

If you have a document or case management system, you should store them all in document management.

What about documents that are not client-related, such as admin or management documents? There are excellent commercially available web-based document management systems on the market that take document filing to another level, with all documents of any kind instantly available online, from any location on any device. These products can in many instances be integrated with case management systems, or standalone if you prefer.

Full marks if you always scan all incoming hard copy correspondence and other documents into your document management system, because this enables the full case content to be seen electronically, essential in times of crisis such as this, where almost everyone is required to work at home. How though does post get physically scanned if there is no one in the office?

You might consider it reasonable for one fully consenting person to attend the office, with appropriate gloves and other protective equipment, to scan all post and distribute it electronically to the correct cases and people.

The options are to send all printing to the central location where the person scanning incoming post can print and send out outgoing post, or to print to a local printer and go out and post the documents. The former would appear for most firms to be the most economic in terms of minimising the number of persons who would be out and about.

Homeworking environment

Good cloud-based software can be accessed from anywhere on any device, but what if your device isn’t up to scratch? Computers are quite simple to move from one location to another these days, both because they are less bulky than they used to be, and they are pretty much plug-and-play, something that many businesses will be taking advantage of during recovery after Covid-19.

Without adequate protection, this presents a serious security risk, so make sure that each machine requires secure login procedures and is protected by up to date, centrally managed, anti-virus and other protections. Instigate dual or multi-factor authentication, which requires at least a secondary approval on another device, usually a mobile phone, to gain access. Products are available for very little cost and are easily deployed.

Phone services

A VOIP phone system will enable you to replicate making, receiving and transferring calls as though you were in the office, particularly if matched with a softphone licence that enables a headset or microphone and speaker to be plugged into your PC so that you can take calls via the computer rather than on a handset.

Virtual meetings

If you’ve resisted video technology for meetings so far, now is the time to consider it. People still appreciate being able to look into the eyes of the person they are talking to, perhaps now more than ever, with isolation imposed on us and thoughts turning to recovery after Covid-19.

Many commercial products facilitate instant and schedule meetings with multiple persons, screen sharing while in the meeting for demonstration and explanatory purposes, chat between people through messaging within the meeting, whiteboards for illustration purposes, and call recording.

These come at a cost, but don’t overlook offerings that may already be included within your existing subscriptions, particularly Microsoft Teams, which is available within Office 365 subscriptions. Office 365 in itself is a must for our logistically difficult circumstances, as the key Office products are available to you online and on most devices.

Online legal services

It has long been my belief that the real value of online legal services is the blend of human and machine that the software can facilitate.

On the other side of the coin, most lawyers are too burdened with archaic methods of processing work and no quality time to spend with their clients. Collaboration software overcomes this and is the perfect antidote to 80% unmet legal need, which research points to, and lawyers having no time for their clients and falling out of love with their jobs.

This is an abridged version of a series of five blogs appearing at https://www.legalworkflow.com/blog/.

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