Legal update: Looking for opportunities

Published: Wednesday 29 April 2020

Andy Harris’s recent article discussed looking for the positives in the current situation. In these unusual times, it is really important that we consider what opportunities there are, and take advantage of them to avoid sinking back into old habits. Once we’re back in our offices it will be too late!

  1. Over the last year or so we have seen a much greater focus on time recording by many firms, and have provided lots of training to fee earners on its importance. With everyone working remotely, more partners have become insistent that fee earners record all chargeable and non-chargeable time. Now, whilst there may be ulterior motives behind this for some firms, i.e. a lack of trust when you cannot see what your fee earners are doing remotely, if you can get all of your fee earners to be fully time recording now, there is no reason this should not continue when you return to your offices. Clear expectations and monitoring would need to be put in place for this to work.
  2. We’ve heard talk of some firms planning to print all the soft copy documents that have been produced whilst working at home, so that they can be added to their hard copy files. There is absolutely no regulatory requirement for you to retain printed hard copy documents, as long as you can easily search and locate soft copies within your own internal systems. Take advantage of the opportunity to go paperless, or at least paper-lite!
  3. Along the same vein, there is no need for authorisation to be in the form of a 'wet' signature. Many softwares have the option to date stamp, and it is becoming easier to use electronic signatures. The main thing is that you maintain a clear audit trail. This doesn’t need to just be for internal use either, but can be applied to your clients as well, for signing engagement terms and contracts. This could save valuable time, allowing partners to authorise documents on the go, or receive contracts back from clients instantly, rather than waiting on snail mail.
  4. There have been concerns over receiving and banking clients funds promptly as a result of many offices closing, and so many of us now working remotely. In addition, clients are used to being able to access all manner of services 24 hours a day, and are starting to expect the same from law firms. Is now the perfect time to look into accepting payments via your website? Going forward, this may result in funds coming to you far sooner, and alleviate some strain on the firm’s cash flow.

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Jenny Staight
Jenny Staight
Associate Director
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