I recently wrote an article, which you can find here, that talked about physical location being less important and as Americans are finding themselves transitioning from working in their offices to working remotely. Now that COVID-19 has taken hold, and it looks like it will be here for quite some time, having an agile work-life where you’re able to have a productive workspace in both your backyard (or your bedroom) is essential.
As attorneys, we are admitted to practice in certain physical geographies, but our ability to reach our clients is far greater than simply our present physical location…especially now after so many people have distanced themselves as far as possible to avoid COVID-19. Regardless of the physical location (I’m working from West Virginia), most professionals are still able to serve their clients effectively. COVID-19 is simply accelerating the trend that’s already becoming dominant: it’s not your location that matters, it’s what you do for your clients. Law firms and lawyers must adapt to remain competitive to the clientele that increasingly sees no physical boundaries with its commerce.
Most law firms are steeped in traditions keeping with the historical ways of practicing law. However, in the new environment, professional service firms need to be adaptable and flexible. So, with that said, what are some of the most significant changes that will make a lasting impact on the legal industry?
Remote work and flexible working hours are going to be pushed to the forefront of everyone’s agendas, no matter the industry. Whether you work in healthcare, construction, consumer, legal, etc., having access to remote operations will now be imperative. For just as many attorneys that are answering emails straight from their phone, there are many other attorneys that refuse to conduct their business in any other way than meeting in person. Unfortunately, this may no longer be an option. With the uptick in the use of Microsoft Teams, Duo Mobile, Skype, Zoom, etc., more firms may be open to remote work still being an option after COVID-19 concludes.
Technology and Security
With agile workforces on the rise, so are the technological threats that go along with them. Now that we are virtually conducting business, we are regularly opening ourselves up to more virtual threats and security breaches than ever before. Acknowledging this risk and reaffirming vigilance is imperative.
More and more businesses, after seeing how well their employees have handled working from home, may consider smaller lease agreements or not renewing their lease. Especially for businesses that have leasing agreements in regions such as New York City, where the real estate is through the roof (pun intended). Firms may be able to cut costs by looking at a smaller space or by moving to remote work altogether.
No matter what change does or doesn’t stick, things will inevitably be different due to COVID-19. Again, for me, the key is availability. If I’m working from the office, from home, or even the beach, my clients know that I am willing, able, and available to help them with their legal transactions, regardless of physical location.
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ABOUT MIKE MERCURIO
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Michael N. Mercurio is a leading attorney in the field of mergers and acquisitions (M&A). He serves as outside general counsel in buy-side and sell-side M&A, as well as in all business law and real estate law matters. As a strategic partner to firm clients, Mr. Mercurio regularly counsels entrepreneurial individuals and assorted entities on the many challenges, issues, and opportunities companies face throughout the business lifecycle—from start-up to eventual exit.
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