Please enjoy this blog authored by Oscar Montezuma, Director at Niubox.
According to Clio’s COVID-19 Impact Research 2020, new legal matters dropped by almost 40% upon the COVID-19 crisis. MyCase survey records that 48% of law offices in the US are operating remotely. These two reports provide us with powerful insights on the global impact this crisis is having in terms of revenue in the legal practice, technology adoption and flexible work policies. However the biggest challenge is how to change culture and introduce a purpose oriented and client-centric mindset in the legal industry in the rise of this extraordinary situation.
In our case, our culture has played a big role in facing the challenges and struggles brought by this crisis. Since we opened back in 2018 we embraced the principles of NewLaw. Among other things, we replaced billable hour for flat fees (moving away from the "we sell time" model), replaced micromanagement for team empowerment, eliminated measurement of team performance through time tracking and replaced it with measuring client satisfaction and implemented strong flex and horizontal work policies.
Last December we did a pilot of 15 days remote work and results exceeded expectations. On January and February, we implemented four day weeks and it worked even better. We can safely say we had good training before the crisis. However, all of this would not be sustainable and remote work would have been tougher if it did not rely on a consistent purpose and set of cultural values taken to practice. The current crisis is putting the culture of law firms (or lack of it) to the test and questioning the traditional law firm business model. For traditional multiservice firms, this will be a huge challenge in terms of the agility and understanding new client needs. We keep strengthening our culture as we move forward.
In the side of business, I think we can be in the wake of a whole new market and set of opportunities for technology law and legal tech professionals. I have been advising for almost 15 years clients in the technology industry and for the first time clients are demanding not only the traditional legal advice on their tech issues but additional technology counseling skills and capabilities.
As for technology tools that continue being a great support for our work in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis we can mention the following:
- Work management solutions. As we eliminated time tracking from our DNA, we have tried different project management solutions. Our bet is now on Wrike which has an array of functionalities for managing from simple tasks to more complex projects.
- Meeting planning and collaborative work. We have been working with G-Suite tools where Google Calendar stands out, however given the large amount of e-meetings Calendly has been a great tool for helping us organize our time and ease the scheduling of meetings with clients. Collaborative real time work powered by Google Docs has also been essential.
- E-signatures. Twenty years ago the world was discussing the regulation and usage of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) systems for e-signing with legal validity. In Peru digital signatures (PKI) have a more robust legal protection than generic electronic signatures, however both are legally valid. We have been assessing clients in their acquisitions of legal signatures and also have been adopting them for our internal use and submission of documents to public entities.
- Communications and videoconference. For e-meetings with clients, Google Meet, has been a very useful and stable solution. However for large video conference sessions such as webinars Zoom is still an industry standard.
However, I think the best way to be prepared for a pandemic event like COVID-19 again is to focus on purpose, culture and human values. This mindset change powered with technology can be a winner and open new avenues for innovation and disruption for any legal organization.