The next challenge is called ‘remote lawyer’. And the digitization of offices and procedures, towards a digital environment, is the way.
Until a few months ago, a lawyer who easily dealt with the settings of his mobile phone synchronized with the in cloud from office, webinars, platforms of meeting and other bad words so far uncommon in legal jargon, it would be called, among its peers, geek ou high-tech.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced changes in the way the world works and in law, it accelerated a technological leap similar to ten years of an evolution that was already happening more expressively in other sectors of activity. In the final stretch of the lack of definition, the question arises: the digital transformation is here to stay and will 2020 remain in the history of Portuguese law as a turning point?
The arrival of the pandemic in our country forced the closure of the premises of many law firms, as in other professional areas. Some adapted easily and adhered to teleworking, while a significant slice was greatly affected by confinement and shaken by a earthquake with a virus name that changed your horizon of routines and procedures.
Whether due to the pressure of a pandemic or any other external factor to activate the technological turbo, the time has come to leave static models and embrace the efficiency of remote technologies in the activity of advocacy.
The several weeks of working at home cannot be seen as a mere suspension of normal activity, but as a transition to the era of digital transformation. The great challenge is to motivate and involve those who work in the legal areas to reinvent themselves in their work and organizations must know how to recognize and encourage the mental agility that is necessary to move them to the new phase of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
From the health crisis, a huge storm came over the economy: increased unemployment and the number of insolvencies of individual and collective people; retraction in investment and decrease in consumption; increased litigation and clients (especially private individuals and micro and small businesses) with greater difficulty in meeting the payment deadlines – all of which foresee changes in the billing of the law firm, particularly in the smallest offices.
Now, in the coming weeks and months, the reopening of law firms has to cling to the land that has already been won and, in addition to turbo, take on adoption and transformation: by accelerating the trend that already exists in other sectors, advocacy – not only for large offices, but also for small ones – can emerge from the crisis with a transformed workplace and permanently transform how legal work is performed It is delivered.
Small and medium-sized offices even have a significant advantage here, due to the agility that comes from their less complex structures, which will allow them to take energetic steps more quickly towards digital transformation.
There is a very big difference between a lawyer working with VPN and video calls from home or adopting tools genuinely designed for collaboration that allow him to work with anyone else, from anywhere. This is the next challenge: the remote attorney. And the digitization of offices and procedures, towards a digital environment, is the path that, inevitably, the great majority will have to follow to guarantee efficiency, reduce administration or indirect costs, maximize time and guarantee competitive prices / hour to customers. your customers.
If, on the one hand, direct contacts with customers have almost disappeared in recent months, the remote attorney you will be closer to your customers whenever necessary, without feeling the need to go back to the “base” to complete reports, consult endless paper folders or deliver proof of expenses.
The digital archive becomes the result of the rigor of everyone who contributes to it, at the hand of a click or mobile application. With all this, security is reinforced, as the office’s documentary collection is now housed in the cloud, in infrastructure with superior security and resilience, while also being safe from the most nasty misfortunes that can affect any physical installation of an office.
Although many offices still value daily eye contact in their organizational culture, the truth is that, in recent years and, particularly, in other latitudes, the ease of being able to work outside the usual scenario of the office secretary has been sought by lawyers, namely by the generation millennial, looking for greater flexibility and maximizing your time.
In the scenario of a team with several remote lawyers, it is up to the organization to promote Human Resources policies to strengthen team spirit and ensure change management, as not everyone has the same level of familiarity with technology.
For the effective practice of law, the technology is there: the communication channels with clients will be multiple and essentially digital. Video conference meetings are here to stay. Real-time access to customers and employees to what goes on in the projects. The hours spent in front of the screen will increase, but you will gain in agility and productivity. Online documents and distance training will become the new everyday routine in offices, reducing travel time and expenses.
The results will depend on the organization’s capacity, small or large, if determined by motivation, agility, infrastructure, digital knowledge and collaboration tools.
Carlos Vaz de Oliveira
(2020, June 25th). The “new normal” in advocacy involves more technology. Accessed June 25th, 2020, in: https://jornaleconomico.sapo.pt/en/noticias/o-novo-normal-na-advocacia-passa-por-mais-tecnologia-605075