The trend for legal professionals to work from home has been growing for some years now. However, many people in the legal field continue to believe that the legal profession’s demands are too difficult to be met by this approach.
Along came COVID-19, and lawyers and legal professionals suddenly found themselves working remotely from home. The need for social distancing has gone on for some months now, and even as some lawyers feel they prefer working from home some problems need to be conquered.
Problems faced by people in the legal field
1. Client confidentiality
In the legal profession, client confidentiality is paramount. Telephonic conversations and correspondence in the home cannot always be kept secure. It is also difficult for firms to keep track of correspondence and calls between a legal employee and clients.
Every law firm needs to provide secured networks to lawyers working from home because personal networks are more prone to cyber-attacks and phishing attempts. Important files and documents with sensitive information need to be sent through secured networks.
In the absence of supervision, legal professional needs to understand they need to protect their client’s interest and have indemnity in case of any loss or negligent work.
2. Distractions around the home
Lockdown in many countries has meant everyone is at home. Spouses are trying to carry out their work; children are unable to go to daycare or school and grandparents cannot offer to help because of social distancing.
Not everyone has access to a private space to work from within their home. Unless the home is quiet, it can be very difficult to conduct a conference call, telephone conversation, or work on a legal document.
Even though many people feel that working from home has offered them more time to spend with their families, others find it extremely difficult to settle into a working routine in the space they normally use to relax.
3. Keeping associates connected
There is a hierarchy within law firms and associates, and partners are used to meeting to coordinate cases, usually with in-house contact. Working from home can often make it difficult for associates to reach each other and can lead to frustrations. Also, many may feel it weakens the interpersonal bonds within their firm.
4. Staying productive
Many people find it challenging to be productive around their home. They find they constantly find other tasks that need their attention and cannot seem to focus on their work. Additionally, some miss the interactions they have through the day at the office and are tempted to want to reach out for their phones for unnecessary chats.
5. Connecting with clients
Remote law firms have proven lawyers and clients don’t need to meet. They handle everything from client engagement, doing the legal work required, and billing remotely. Unfortunately, some clients prefer personally meeting with their legal representatives. Many have been understanding during the pandemic, they may not prefer things to stay like this afterward.
6. Technical challenges
Law firms have technical teams that can instantly iron out any technical challenges with IT in the office. Working from home can make this type of problem more difficult to fix, usually requiring the lawyer to visit the office so that the problem can be sorted out.
7. Office management
Lawyers who work for big law firms or at a corporate level are used to having someone manage their front office. This entails organizing appointments, meetings with the rest of the legal team, administrative tasks, and billing of hours.
In the absence of office management, lawyers who are unused to doing these administrative tasks themselves often feel like they are drowning in them.
8. Relaxed standards of professionalism
Posture, sloppy attire, and eating all day are the usual types of bad habits people start to adopt when working from home. The best approach is to maintain the same level of professionalism as is kept at the office in case of an unexpected call or meeting.
9. Extroverts versus introverts
Even though extroverts may feel they are missing out on many of their office interactions, introverts usually feel much happier to work from home. However, one of the problems with this is they risk not being able to stay connected with their coworkers or may not speak up when they must during noisy conference meetings.
Even though some lawyers may prefer continuing to continue to work remotely after the pandemic has passed, many still feel that the problems faced have proven that the legal profession needs a more professional environment to practice law from.