Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Ryan Groff, Practice Management and Product Advisor
What's good for law firms will be good for courts
The stress and strain of unforeseen disruption should not be underestimated, but disruption compels reconsideration of assumptions. Borrowing this sentiment, Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts suggests that a willingness to ask questions during such times could mean that we “leave this crisis with a better, more resilient system of justice.”
The Chief Justice’s forward-thinking perspective means a lot coming from the leader of the oldest continuous appellate court in the western hemisphere. But his reasoning is nothing new.
The states are often the incubators of justice where new legal precedents evolve before federal adoption. What’s good for the states is good for the nation. So too, the efficiencies of legal mobile workforces taking root in law firms right now have the potential to drive changes in courts.
What’s good for law firms will be good for courts.
The legal mobile workforce is accessible
In May 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States modeled legal access. It aired live audio arguments for the first time. Rather than diminishing the value of the court—as proponents of in-person only argument feared—improved access only enlivened public engagement with the court’s important work. Engagement with the legal system will improve with increased accessibility.
Legal mobile workforces, like the Supreme Court, are accessible when they use 21st century technology for 21st century problems. For example, imagine a client’s confusion when their bank provides fully online mortgage applications and financing approvals, but their law firm cites security concerns when it requests documents via fax or First Class mail?
Clients expect to collaborate online with law firms to draft their offers, purchase and sale agreements, and deeds. They expect 24/7 intake, scheduling, document retrieval, billing, and electronic payments. When the rest of life can be done from a smartphone, the question is why not law? Fortunately, these tools are affordable and bring immediate value to firms and clients. Law firms cannot avoid this reality, and courts will quickly follow suit.
The legal mobile workforce is mobile
In February, few if any of us imagined that court hearings would be held on Zoom. This is because courts wield absolute power over how they operate. No competition, long standing precedent “the way we’ve always done it,” so why change?
In March legal communities adapted very quickly to the worst public health crisis in generations. In May and June attorneys made plans to get through the summer. But as fall rolls around and schools across the country open in hybrid and online formats, it is obvious that “new normals” have become normal. We live in a mobile world.
Working from anywhere is a huge problem for lots of small law firms. Client information is in physical filing cabinets, the same information is manually typed into multiple documents, bills are mailed, checks are received, and banks must be visited. The inefficiency of this way of work was costly even before the pandemic. Now it is absolutely unprofitable.
When law firms enter the mobile world, attorneys run paperless offices. It means all client data is stored securely in one, cloud-based system accessible anywhere, from computers, web browsers, Apple and Android devices, Amazon Alexa and with Apple iWatch. It means that email templates, document retrieval, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams are built into one system.
Join the legal mobile workforce
The legal system cannot afford for its attorneys to“wait and see.” Clients need access to their attorneys now. When law firms join the legal mobile workforce clients can access legal services from anywhere.