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Covid-19 Survey: Lawyers Continue to Work Remotely and in the Cloud

Stacked3Here is a recent Daily Record column. My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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Covid-19 Survey: Lawyers Continue to Work Remotely and in the Cloud

It’s hard to believe that the pandemic has been with us for nearly 6 months  – and will likely be around for months - or even years - to come. As a result of COVID-19 and its effects, some firms are busier than ever, while others are finding that business has slowed down.

This newfound reality that we all find ourselves in makes it challenging to run a successful business, as many law firms are now unfortunately discovering. Because of the pandemic, lawyers and their employees have transitioned to remote working. As a result, according to a recent survey, law firms are increasingly relying on the cloud-based technology that makes remote work possible, since it’s the only way to ensure that law firms continue to be both functional and profitable.

The survey was conducted by MyCase in June (note that I am the Legal Technology Evangelist for MyCase) and was a follow up to a survey conducted in April. In the most recent survey, 56% of firms surveyed were working remotely in some capacity. 40% of respondents reported that their firms were operating in their physical office, 18% of firms were operating exclusively remotely, and another 38% of firms were partially open with a portion of staff operating remotely.The majority of those firms that were fully remote have no proposed timeline as to when they will return to their offices.

Compare this to the results of the April survey, which showed that 87% of firms were working remotely in some capacity. This 36% decrease in law firms working remotely suggests that some law firms have been able to reopen as states relaxed their orders on essential businesses. These numbers will undoubtedly continue to fluctuate based on geographical location and public policies.

Law firms reported that they were taking a number of approaches to future-proof their businesses against prolonged interruption, the most notable of which was adopting or continuing to use cloud-based technology. The use of cloud computing legal software by lawyers has steadily increased since the start of the pandemic, and the survey results showed that 90% of the law firms surveyed shared that cloud-based technology enabled their firm to work remotely at this time, an increase from 79% in April.

Also of import is that for many law firms, cloud-based software is the key to their continued profitability despite the pandemic. According to the survey results, 70% of the lawyers surveyed reported that cloud technology is paramount to their firm's financial stability.

For many law firms, the transition to remote work in the cloud was sudden, and in some cases, involuntary. Fortunately, the majority of lawyers surveyed indicated that although the change was unexpected, it was a positive one, with 52% strongly agreeing that the technology adoption by law firms due to the pandemic is a positive trend. Another 54% strongly agreed that the same was true of the courts.

So, in other words, as I’ve been saying for years now, technology is your friend, and change is good. I wish it hadn’t taken a pandemic to get lawyers to agree with me, but who am I to complain? I’ll take what I can get!

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney, author, journalist, and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase  law practice management software for small law firms. She is the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a Thomson Reuters treatise. She writes legal technology columns for Above the Law and ABA Journal and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. You can follow her on Twitter at @nikiblack or email her at niki.black@mycase.com.