5 “What-ifs” About Legal Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic
For businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic is a time of hypotheses and uncertainty. While some companies do have risk management policies, many organizations have failed to effectively address challenges caused by the current crisis. For instance, 45 percent of British companies reported a lower turnover than they had expected. Massive employee layoffs are also becoming rather common. Since the ongoing situation is completely unprecedented, it has stirred frustration and a bit of panic across the business world.
What does this mean for legal teams? The law industry heavily depends on face-to-face communication. Social distancing and travel restrictions have affected the entire paradigm of routine legal work. Naturally, lawyers are concerned whether legal operations will continue as normal or if they will come to a halt soon. Also, most legal professionals have been forced to work remotely during the quarantine. So, the crucial question is how to implement digital tools into the traditional workflows of legal teams.
In this blog post, we’ve gathered five main “what-ifs” most legal managers and general counsels are pondering today. Take a look at them to understand how to effectively deal with changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
1. What if my legal processes are not suitable for remote work?
Most legal operations have tight deadlines and must be completed without compromises on accuracy or quality. That’s why legal processes are generally fine-tuned and rigid. To avoid risks, law teams are reluctant to update their routine workflows unless it’s absolutely necessary. The COVID-19 crisis is a perfect example of when legal departments are forced to implement changes despite discomfort. Yet, there is also a silver lining.
The COVID-19 crisis is a perfect example of when legal departments are forced to implement changes despite discomfort.
It’s much easier and faster to adopt the entire new practice at once, rather than taking one step at a time. Also, during quarantine, all team members are interested in ensuring their remote work is effective, so they are less likely to resist the improvements and alterations.
To carry on with day-to-day tasks, legal professionals must be equipped with all the necessary tools. For several years, our team has been working with organizations that have low process agility. This experience allowed us to collect several useful tips for legal managers. So, to make the technology adoption process as smooth as possible, you need to:
To achieve legal process optimization, you can use a contract management or document drafting solution like AXDRAFT. This service will help your team create legal documents 70% faster and avoid mistakes that often take up to 40% of their time. In addition, the document automation tool will allow you to reduce in-house legal costs, which is a significant benefit given the potential economic crisis.
2. What if my team is not qualified to operate in the digital landscape?
Odds are your legal team lacks some of the necessary skills to accept and implement all changes right away. But it doesn’t mean they are unable to learn them. So if you feel your team needs more training, you should initiate an educational process. Also, place extra attention on project management. It’s best to use a proven methodology that can cater to the needs of virtually any department or team.
Demystify the process of change for your team members.
Here are a few recommendations for legal managers and general counsels that focus on how to launch the change process and make it comfortable for all employees:
In practice, business process optimization isn’t as painful as it may seem, so do not be shaken. After all, your team will only need to adjust to new digitalized processes once, but the benefits will last for a long time.
3. What if my legal team is too stressed to perform well remotely?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the level of psychological tension is constantly growing. People are exposed to an enormous amount of news, both depressing and optimistic, and it can be really difficult to maintain informational hygiene. In this context, legal professionals are in the same boat as everyone else. So, it would be foolish to ignore the physiological side when implementing legal technology in day-to-day operations or when evaluating employee performance.
Personal support is vital for cultivating a sense of security during the crisis.
As a team leader, you can still take steps to ensure everyone feels safe and connected, despite the self-isolation. For instance, to increase the team’s morale, you can:
The above measures may not eliminate all areas of stress for your employees, but they’ll help create a healthy work environment and encourage your team to successfully overcome hardships.
4. What if our confidential information is compromised in the digital space?
Data scandals get a lot of media attention, so we can’t avoid discussing the risk of leakage. Remote work wouldn’t be possible without moving the entire business to the digital space. This means that all confidential information must also be transferred to software systems so legal professionals can perform their routine tasks from home. Naturally, this raises a lot of security concerns.
While it’s true no one is immune to cyberattacks, there are preventive actions you can take to minimize the chance of someone getting unauthorized access to confidential information. In particular, to ensure data security, you should:
Besides, you must have a data breach protocol prepared beforehand, even if you think you’ll never use it. Despite all preventive measures, data breaches do happen, so having a plan in place can help you minimize the risks and get back on track much faster.
5. What if the economic crisis destroys the need for legal services?
Putting it simply: it won’t. Not for all service types, at least. The demand for lawyers is actually increasing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the upward trend may seem counterintuitive, the reasons are quite logical:
Unfortunately, the factors above don’t ensure the legal industry will be protected from layoffs, as they are likely to occur across all business sectors. But, eventually, things will return to normal and the curve will flatten. Besides, the increased demand for digital services will likely extend potential areas of opportunities for legal services.
The COVID-19 health crisis has caused many changes to the routine work of law firms and legal departments. During quarantine, most lawyers are forced to work from home, leaving legal managers no other choice but to launch a digital transformation. To successfully complete this process, it’s critical to choose the right tools for the automation of legal operation. For example, AXDRAFT can help your team reduce the time spent drafting routine documents (NDAs, DPAs, SLAs, etc.).
And remember, many companies still need legal support to deal with the business implications of COVID-19. So don’t forget to remind your team just how important their mission is during these uneasy times.