The unprecedented Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has badly shaken a lot of institutional norms of human existence and the post-Corona scenario is sure to witness a sea-change in the way society, organizations, business and professions will function and operate thenceforth. And, as far as the ‘Post-Corona Growth Opportunities for Lawyers’ is concerned, it can be said that because a lawyer always remains young and a student of law at heart, post this pandemic phase they all will be required to re-calibrate, modify and adapt themselves to the changed times to find and make their place in a somewhat new world.
It is often said that a lawyer on cyclic basis has both thick and thin phases in his profession, but an able lawyer is one who prepares and equips himself well in the thin phase to make and gain the most in the thick one.
Even before this gloomy phase passes away, the present times have a variety of issues awaiting intervention by lawyers, to name and address one of the most important one being, employment-related issues.
The MHA by its order dated 29.3.2020 under the DMA, 2005 directed all the industries, shops, commercial establishments to pay all wages without any deductions.
The notification raises a number of issues to be looked into from the perspective of both an employer and employee and involves a gamut of laws like, DM Act, Payment of Wages Act, ID Act etc. Similar such orders are being made in term of construction workers which constitute one of the biggest migratory population.
Once normalcy is attained, there will be a number of subjects which is awaiting legal interventions to set at rest the issues. A few areas where young lawyers may find space to flourish can be discussed as hereunder:
- Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code: One piece of legislation which was enacted for time-bound recovery of debts will act as shrapnel in this time of crisis.
Thus the same would involve the active participation of lawyers from both sides in terms of recovering the debts for creditors and, on the other side, saving the already sinking debtors with no business activity being conducted during the lockdown.
- Debt-Restructuring: Debt-Restructuring is going to be a major tool being adopted in order to overcome the financial distress caused by the pandemic.
- Foreign Investment: According to an OECD Index covering 68 countries, India possesses the 8th most restrictive FDI regime. The same would involve submitting proposals to the Government in order to relax the norms for such investment while safeguarding the interest of the domestic industry.
Post Covid-19 and with a feeling of hatred of the world towards China, a lot of companies would be shifting their bases. In order to attract these countries, India will have to relax its FDI policies; thus a ready reckoner to these policies would be very helpful for any new entrant.
Knowledge of Foreign Exchange Management and allied laws will also be very helpful.
- Labour & Employment Laws:With the great possibility that the pandemic results into a global recession or if it may be termed to be depression, there will be a number of employer-employee disputes surfacing.
There are all the possibilities of the economies not simply slowing down but the same being contracted to a smaller size.
- Mergers and Acquisitions:The history of recession has shown that the smaller player often gets wiped out. In order for such smaller players to survive, they will have to look for merging themselves with bigger players or where required, even getting themselves acquired.
- Banking Defaults/Disputes:This is another area that will require interventions by lawyers.
- Rent Defaults/Disputes:MHA notification that payment of rent should not be pressed, would raise a number of disputes which regard to payment of rent and default towards the same.
- Non-Performance of Commercial Transactions:Force majeure, which can be one of the most contended and debatable topics by itself as to the applicability of Force Majeure because of COVID.
- Outside Court Settlements & Mediations, might find a flourishing field due to escalated litigation costs.
- Transactional Lawyering:The post-pandemic phase will show us a wide variety of disputes being germane, which would caution everyone for future and would further result into prior execution of contracts and agreements thereby attempting to cover all possible disputes that might arise and their effects on the performance being already put in black and white.
With time lawyers will also have to adapt themselves in order to meet the challenges of the changed time post-Corona. The involvement of technology in the legal world in India is so far minimal, but adaptability and involvement of technology will be a major step required in the new situation. This could mean:
- Setting-Up Legal Incubators for Startups with a view to nourish the startups, and in turn, fast churn the wheel of the economy.
- Creation of Online Legal Platforms: As a major change in lifestyle of all is likely to be seen post COVID, people will become cost-conscious and at such times providing basic legal services at minimal costs would be a big attraction for clients.
- Integrated Services along with MBAs (business development), Engineers (infrastructure works), Architects, Doctors (health laws) with other professionals might add as a big attraction for clients looking for a one-stop solution.
- Lawyers should equip themselves technologically in terms of both hardware and software to match with changing times.
Even in present times, a good number of e-hearings are being defeated due to the lack of availability of resources. In fact, it is advised that there should be few hours of dedicated learning universities and law colleges should offer in order to equip students with modern technology and trends in law.
- e-Hearings in Court are happening only in exceptional cases today. The limited cases being heard can be justified in present times, but for future, e-hearings can also become a normal daily practice.
One of our former Justices has even conceptualized a legal world where the big infrastructural buildings and resources spent can be done away with and work can be kept going unperturbed in any circumstance.
So, young lawyers are advised to look at the silver lining in the hazy environment and equip themselves for the future as there is much to come their way in the post-Corona days.