How Has COVID-19 Changed The Legal Process?
COVID has changed the way we perform almost anything we do on a regular basis. It’s changed the way we go grocery shopping; the way we get food from restaurants; and the way we socialize with the people we love. Many people also have found the way that they do their job to have changed drastically over the past few months, whether that be reduced in-person meeting; spread out office space; or working remotely. Lawyers have not been exempted from this. The way law is practiced has been impacted greatly by COVID, but that does not mean that the legal process has slowed or stopped.
In fact, due to COVID, the legal process has become more efficient in some areas. Normally, I might have to leave the office for travel purposes. Not every case I take allows for me to stay local the whole time. COVID has allowed for hearings to be conducted remotely, rather than in person. Recently, a client and I were able to appear before a Texas judge without even leaving Greenville.
Hearings are not the only things that have gone remote for many lawyers; many meetings with clients are being held remotely as long as the technology on both ends is working. While technology can be fickle at times, it has become even more of an invaluable tool over the past few months. The expansion and common usage of technology like Zoom or Google Meet have made it easier to collaborate with people who may not be local, saving everyone involved in the legal process time and money, as well as helping keep everyone as safe as possible.
It also has changed the way the court is set up during in-person cases. Maintaining social distancing guidelines is still important, and that does not change just because it might change an aspect of a job. Recently, I was in court where I was sitting at one table, my client at another, and the prosecutor was in the jury box. It was unconventional, but safe.
Coronavirus has changed the way people interact on a day-to-day basis in the legal profession, shifting much of the work to either online or performed from a distance of six feet. Many people refer to this time period as the “new normal,” and in some ways that might be true. Many law firms have found conducting work remotely offers employees and clients greater flexibility, as no one has to worry about a commute. However, no matter the future outcome, COVID-19 has thrown obstacles at everyone involved in the legal system, but we’re all trying to adapt to them as quickly and efficiently as possible.