How Remote Work Is Changing the Legal Profession
COVID-19 has brought the world many changes and if you’re in the workforce, the biggest for you is likely getting acquainted with working from home.
While working from home sounds great at first, soon, you realize that there are many aspects that you have to adapt to, all on your own.
Especially in the legal world, where client relationships and face-to-face meetings are the bulk of your responsibilities, you have to figure out a way to make it work, even in the midst of the pandemic.
Time management gets tougher as productivity declines and we ask ourselves, “How long will remote work continue?”
While we can sit here and predict the future, no one really has a straightforward answer, so until then, we’ll just have to improvise, adapt and overcome.
Working from Home in the Legal Industry
Here are some of the top reasons of how remote work is altering the legal profession:
Online billing solutions and cloud-based practice management tools are crucial aspects of a remote legal workplace.
Firms must have strategic solutions about how to maximize the use of cloud-based tools in order to stay on task, in the anticipation of increased absences caused by the Coronavirus.
Building a work culture is certainly tougher when employees are working remotely, and during this time, lawyers should think about how they want to build their company culture for the long-term.
Many firms have chosen to replicate the remnants of the office by requiring strict dress codes, schedules and daily check-ins for employees, even while working out of office.
Others have decided that their employees work better when they’re comfortably dressed, given the freedom and trust to their work done on their own times, and not micromanaged.
It all depends on what your employer requires of you but either way, you have to make the best of it in order to tend to your clients, and get your work done on time.
Pre-pandemic, many lawyers were familiar with being on the road for most of their week, but don’t see that happening again in the future.
Solicitors who have been able to spend more time with their families over the last year will likely prefer to rely on video calls, zoom meetings and other technologies that promote remote collaboration.
Many lawyers will ask themselves if travel is necessary for a short meeting, when it can be done much easier via video call.
Separate Home & Work Life
Lawyers may have never had a regular nine-to-five workday, being in the busy, erratic profession that they’re in.
However, working from home is beginning to dissolve the boundaries between personal life and work life, even further.
Because some lawyers aren’t required to work during the traditional daytime hours or they have children to accommodate, they’re reaching out to their clients at late hours of the night.
While lawyers should be accessible to their clients 24/7, that leaves room for various mental health issues if you’re working during random hours of the day.
Try to stay disciplined and don’t overwork yourself if you mentally can’t handle it.
Law firms use a time-based metric to track their productivity because they’re so used to billable hours.
Many firms have had to reevaluate that approach because every employee is facing different challenges during this time. Some lawyers may find it easy to stay on task and work from home, while others are completely lost.
Recent studies showed that 20% of lawyers reported having trouble meeting billable hour goals due to their new working-from-home environment.
Many law firms are relocating, downsizing their offices and should consider reinvesting in technologies that promote remote work for their home-based staff.
That all depends on your particular law firm and remote lawyers cannot rely on or demand their firms to increase their productivity.
In the meantime, read about our tips on how to boost your home office setup, if you’re having trouble staying productive.
Remote offices are impacting lawyer-client relationships because lawyers are trying to figure out what they have to do to keep up and continue serving their clients.
Lawyers and their clients are both working from home, and it increases the likeliness of overcrowded email inboxes with questions, comments and concerns.
While lawyers need to consistently maintain their client relationships, they also need to have targeted conversations with a goal, rather than random check-ups.
Clients are already comfortable with uploading their information through the web, and lawyers should take advantage of that rather than be afraid of how it will affect their overall relationships.
Can You Work from Home as a Lawyer?
Working remotely as a lawyer is challenging, however, there are many positives that you should take advantage of at this time.
Find ways to stay productive, maintain your client relationships, and work during (more) traditional hours, in order to sustain your mental health and overall drive.
Remote work is changing every profession, so don’t feel alone and instead, be motivated to conquer what’s coming your way.
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