Companies and professionals in most industries have always been willing to embrace or at least consider the idea of employees working from home. Some law firms, however, have always been resistant to the idea. It was only after the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to consider working from home that most law firms implemented the idea.
With law firms being forced to embrace remote work, the transition has been bumpy with many lessons being learned along the way. Over a year since the first case of COVID-19, most firms have now settled on a framework that defines their remote and hybrid nature of work. A survey carried out by Loeb Leadership revealed that as many as two in every three legal professionals wish for the remote working arrangement to continue even beyond the pandemic.
The Pros and Cons of Working from Home for Legal Professionals
One of the definite advantages of remote working in legal firms is that it saves money. As an illustration, a remote worker does not have to spend hours each morning commuting between home and the office. The staff of legal firms that work remotely are ultimately more productive. They do not have long rituals to undergo as they prepare for work, helping them save a lot of energy to invest in their work.
The research also showed that working from home is less stressful for most people, enabling them to focus more on their work. This becomes apparent in the quality of work that the support staff do in researching and putting ideas together. All in all, remote working is more economically feasible for the modern law firm than the traditional 9 to 5 office way to work.
Remote work has also revealed multiple notable issues that make it less ideal than going to work in person. For starters, COVID-19 caught many law firms unaware, and they did not have the time to assemble the technologies they needed to facilitate remote work. It also reveals that attorneys have had it rough trying to switch to working remotely with little to no contact with other attorneys. In addition, some lawyers have had issues working on cases and helping clients without meeting them in person.
The Top Remote Working Practices So Far
How are legal firms overcoming the challenges associated with working from home? Here are some of the best practices they use:
Invest in Good Hardware, Software, and Connectivity
It is impossible to work remotely unless staff members have a computer with a good connection at home. While most people have a machine at home that they can use for work, it was important for legal firms to ensure that they are up to the task and software was up to date before staff could connect to their network.
A good internet connection is important but considering the sensitive nature of the documents legal firms handle, VPN software adds a layer of security when connecting to the cloud. It is common for legal firms to advise their staff on how to protect their connections and computers from cyber threats.
Must-Have Collaboration and Communication Tools
There are many software tools that lawyers and employees of legal firms working remotely use to ensure a steady workflow process. Communication and collaboration tools are suites of software that bring teams working remotely on one project to the same workspace. Two of the most popular collaboration apps used in the legal industry is Microsoft Teams and Slack.
Communication and collaboration tools are chat-based illustration software on which teams can get things done. Once strange in the legal industry, these tools streamline communication and eliminate the reliance on email threads to track items and actions. Today, most firms use some kind of collaboration software with in-built communication tools to manage their cases and clients.
Using Cutting-Edge Time Management and Billing Systems
Lawyers and employees of legal firms have always had a hard time when it comes to pricing their work. For instance, while a lawyer may have a set hourly rate, it is often challenging to charge most clients for the exact duration they use the legal service. However, firms have had a challenge billing their clients and following up on payments and related matters.
With cutting-edge legal time management and billing software, it is now easier than ever for firms to support remote work. These tools have proven to improve the productivity of staff and the profitability of legal firms. One of the most notable legal time management and billing tool LawBillity comes with advanced integration features including detailed reports, expense and time tracking, and mobile device access capability.
Document and Project Management and Knowledge Management Tools
Besides collaboration software, knowledge management tools have played a significant role in helping legal firms adopt remote work. Knowledge management tools are used to identify critical data then leverage it to serve it at the right time and for the right purpose. Firms have found the need to invest in platforms that securely share files and documents on the go, and staff can use them to track projects and estimate timelines.
Many companies and law firms use traditional project management tools such as Asana, Jira, and Airtable to manage their projects. Some choose to develop in-house legal project management software. The critical point to note is that these tools have made it possible for people to work on the same projects from different locations and even at different times. They use the tools to ensure legal projects are well organized, responsibilities delegated, and that no task is overlooked.
Now that remote working is a part of the ‘normal’ work culture, every industry seems to have no choice but to jump on board. Firms in the legal industry have by now adopted the most efficient ways to keep their organizations running – but there are always ways to improve workflows and processes.
By far, the most challenging departments to automate and necessitate work from home have been time management and billing. Find out how you can save money by accurately tracking time with a free 14-day LawBillity trial.