How did life look before COVID-19?
Zoom was just another app. Weekends were special and not just another day!
It’s completely an understatement to say the pandemic has forced us to re-examine many things we thought we knew. From the world economy to destroyed livelihood everything took an ugly turn!
We can debate for years about the effects of the pandemic, but law has been one of the few sectors that has certainly suffered the most.
According to a 2020 published report , the legal professionals were noticeably affected by social restrictions and many firms were facing a significant decline in client demand.
Attorneys at many law firms were forced to return home to quarantine, and lawyers had to set up their offices at home while continuing to work remotely. Not just that, many Law colleges in Delhi, NCR, Pune, etc. got closed amid pandemic, thus affecting the education of future law generations as well.
Let’s have a look at some of the significant ways in which Covid-19 has affected the legal industry:
- Virtual Law Practices
A significant result of the pandemic has been remote working. Like almost every other profession, attorneys were also forced to pack up their offices and move into their homes. As a result of this change, attorneys had to start using video meetings with clients and collaborate on projects without being in the same office.
Besides these challenges, people had to deal with their families as well. Having to quarantine at home was a big adjustment for professionals accustomed to separating work from home life.
In spite of the learning curve created by remote work for some, the legal community as a whole was able to adapt to this change and many attorneys discovered that working from home was both viable and often preferred than in-office work.
- Enhanced Access to CLE Training and Legal Conferences
Many state lawyers are required to maintain their legal licenses by participating in mandatory Continuing Legal Education (CLE). Due to the pandemic, the legal community offered online and on-demand CLE courses and converted many popular in-person events (e.g. ABA TECHSHOW) to virtual events.
The advent of virtual courses and conferences enabled attorneys to stay up-to-date on changes in the legal field. During this period they got the opportunity to learn the best practices, and technology without losing time from their law practice.
While in-person events were great for networking and learning from experts, technology also offered most of the same benefits from the comfort of your desk without the need to travel.
- Job Loss
According to Times of India’s report published in 2020, around 20 lakh advocates were mostly dependent on open court adjudication of disputes. It was a common refrain of not so popular and moderately successful lawyers to earn their basic income from the day-to-day physical court hearings.
Also, amidst the pandemic, several companies had to lay off employees to save on their real estate expenses due to the economic downturn.
This was somewhat heartbreaking as these circumstances left these lawyers jobless.
- Difficulty in Finding Clients
“New lawyers in the national capital who are dependent on fresh filings and hearings for their income have been hit by Covid-19 followed by lockdown”, stated The New Indian Express in one of their published reports in 2020.
The reasons behind this could be numerous. A number of COVID guidelines, such as social distancing, quarantine, and others, may have negatively impacted the number of people who sought legal counsel in the first place.
In addition, since many people started spending a lot more time online due to the pandemic, law firms might have seen a reduction in clients if they didn’t have any web presence (e.g. a website, social media or even internet facilities).
What does the future hold?
Legal professionals and the judicial system overall have been affected by the pandemic in both positive and negative ways. But the positive side is that many individuals will now be well trained to adapt quickly to the changes. No matter what the crisis might be, legal professionals will be well equipped to cope with any fallout.
More transformations are on the horizon, and if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that unexpected things can happen at any time. So, one should be well prepared and well trained from the beginning itself.
By remaining flexible and staying on top of changing regulations, legal professionals will more effectively serve their clients, the court, and their communities.
And students who wish to join this challenging yet exciting career option should start preparing beforehand. Their skills and firm hold of knowledge will determine their future ahead.
They must opt for a top law college in Noida, like Asian Law College that will provide all the required training, upskill programs, exposure, and whatnot!