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Now that we are in the very midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it seems that the pattern of working from home has, for most people, become routine. Increased WFH, alongside fewer opportunities to interact face-to-face, has led to significant changes in the way companies conduct their business - and law firms need to be aware of changing expectations to integrate them into their strategy going forward.
Firstly, with the new trainee recruitment cycle and the start of a new academic year, law firms are getting to grips with a new way of engaging with aspiring solicitors. Students and law firms alike are starting to use new technology at virtual law fair events, by chatting in virtual ‘booths’. Inevitably, the law firms that actively attend these events, and make an effort to adapt to this new networking environment, will probably be most appealing to their prospective applicants.
Secondly, law firms must also consider how to alter their provision of legal services to suit their clients during coronavirus. Whilst presentation evenings and industry events may not be possible to conduct in-person, some law firms have embraced the ability to put on virtual industry-focused webinars, or virtual ‘Q&A’ panels. One advantage is that these events can reach a wider audience than in-person events - and might therefore attract prospective clients from many geographical regions. Setting up virtual events allows law firms to engage with clients about the practical implications of Covid-19 in their specific practice areas; and could therefore be a great way for firms to bolster their client interactions.
Additionally, possibly more than ever before, the strategies and decisions made by businesses will depend on changes in the law. For example, over the past few months, there have been changes in the way proceedings in court are filed and carried out, as well as changes in legislation, and changes in market predictions – all of which mean that clients may need help navigating the new legal changes and regulations. For example, government schemes and regulations - such as the furlough scheme - will mean businesses need to make decisions about employees and other areas of business. Law firm clients will need lawyers to be aware of the different strategies open to them in this rapidly changing commercial world.
Finally, just as businesses are adapting to changes due to coronavirus, law firms in turn need to adapt to the changing needs of their clients. Striking a balance between having a flexible, open, approach to conducting interactions using new technology, whilst also having a pragmatic and secure approach to conducting safe in-person client meetings where necessary, is crucial for law firms. This will also be an essential consideration for law firms going forward.
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