Similar to their counterparts in legal technology companies and corporate law departments, private law firms have had to implement a raft of restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey by ILTA. Besides requiring or allowing attorneys and other staff to work remotely, many law firms are using technology to approach the needs of their clients proactively.
Indeed, some of the best known BigLaw brands now have cross-disciplinary COVID-19 taskforces and have released guidelines and checklists for their clients, making the material available free-of-charge on social media or their websites. There are similar offerings from small and mid-sized firms as well, where IT provides rapid, proactive information, particularly for employers and clients in the healthcare sector.
Cameron Call with NSA, a company providing cloud desktop technologies to law firms in Las Vegas with his managed IT services company and shares insights into how technology is helping law firms respond to COVID-19
Examples of Law Firms Using Technology to Respond To COVID-19
With law firms across the world scrambling to provide the resources their clients need to understand their legal obligations in an environment dominated by shelter-in-place orders and lockdowns, some are partnering with tech companies to release innovative solutions. Some of the law firms that illustrate the rollout of new technology services due to the COVID-19 pandemic are:
Although the crisis management team at Mayer Brown has always had its rapid response as a key selling point, partner Elizabeth Stern says that keeping pace with the rapid spread of COVID-19 made a technological assist essential.
Repurposing a framework that the law firm built for Brexit purposes, Mayer Brown has a freely available Global Traveler tool that tracks travel, visa, health checks, and quarantine regulations worldwide. Through a recently-launched blog and dedicated web portal, the firm provides analysis and legal guidance related to the pandemic.
Through its technology subsidiary SixFifty, Wilson Sonsini has a publicly available COVID-19 toolset that features two solutions specifically tailored to address employment-related legal issues caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Using a framework used to develop a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance tool, the first solution is a questionnaire workflow. It can – among other tasks – help businesses to identify employees that may have COVID-19 exposure, as well as the co-workers who have been near them.
The second tool lets companies automatically generate new policies for travel, reimbursement, telecommuting, and extended sick leave in line with the realities of the pandemic. SixFifty tailored the policies with the help of employment attorneys at Wilson Sonsini who designed them broadly to ensure they cover most US state and federal employment guidelines.
Besides having a US Pandemic/COVID-19 Special Situations Team, Dentons also has several new technology solutions that help businesses to maneuver through legal complications which might arise as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The global law firm has a web-based COVID-19 Hub that provides insights on travel bans, potential economic fallout, and even the impact that the spread of the virus has on the real estate market, all broken down by country. Built on similar lines, the firm has a tracker of Global Labor and Enforcement so businesses can establish the differences in their obligations to their employees from one global market to the other.
In a recent article, Ben Levi, the COO, and co-founder of InCloudCounsel explained that flex-working and remote lawyering services are quickly becoming widespread across the entire legal industry. He adds that, if COVID-19 continues to disrupt everyday life in the foreseeable future as most experts predict, then law firms will be forced to adopt new ways of carrying out their business.
The technology and expertise exist to allow law firms to continue practicing remotely without disruptions if the legal experts choose to use it.