Is Your Law Firm Prepared to Weather COVID-19 Storm?  

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Workplace health and safety measures are essential during the pandemic. But shifting a law firm to the Cloud so people can work from home is a proactive solution.  

The COVID-19 health crisis prompted government officials to shutter many non-essential businesses. Law firms continue to play a vital role in wide-ranging industries, and the judicial system simply cannot shut down. The practice of law remains an essential asset in these troubled times, and firms are now tasked with keeping employees out of harm’s way until the COVID-19 storm passes. 

Legal IT services professional Phillip Baumann with BoomTech in Boca Raton, FL shares strategies for law firms to consider in an effort to remain operational.

Maintain A Safe & Sanitary Workplace

In a perfect world, all employees would be able to work from home. But few businesses could have foreseen a pandemic that spread so quickly. That’s why some law firms require at least part of their staff to perform in-house duties.

Fortunately, law firms may have an advantage over many other industries. Many enjoy private offices, and workspaces tend to support social distancing practices. Health organizations are calling for people to remain apart whenever possible to avoid airborne and physical transmission. OSHA also released the following sanitization guidelines.

  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • When soap and running water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand rub with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Always wash hands that are visibly soiled.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Desks, countertops, and anything that could cause contact transmission should be sanitized using household cleaners. Although logging hours at the firm may be necessary, working from home remains the preferred option during the COVID-19 crisis.

Set Parameters Around Travel

Attorneys, paralegals, and other staff members frequently drop off and pick up legal documents. Contracts and case files are often bulky and cumbersome. Minimizing the use of hard copies in favor of e-files may reduce travel and unnecessary contact. Also, law firm decision-makers may want to mandate limited court appearances and ask for continuances in cases that do not require immediate resolution.

It may be worthwhile to start sending out emails to clients stating that delays are expected due to the health crisis. Take the opportunity to include health and wellness precautions outlined by authoritative agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Shift To A Work-From-Home Law Firm

It’s not unusual for firms to already have some team members working remotely. Many paralegals already work from home on a part-time basis. In such instances, firms have already set up the cybersecurity necessary to access the operation’s network via the Cloud. Others may want to consider pivoting quickly by bringing in a managed IT specialist to position attorneys and staff members to serve clients from home. These are items to consider when transitioning to a Cloud-based workforce.

  • Cybersecurity: Review your existing policy and update it in conjunction with the guidance of a managed IT cybersecurity specialist. Moving to a remote workforce calls for measures such as updated passwords, access privileges, and encryption. One challenge to review with a cybersecurity expert is whether staff-owned laptops, desktops, and devices are secure.

  • Secure Wi-Fi: Home routers tend not to be as secure as a law firm’s office network. Rectifying this issue promptly will be necessary before allowing remote access to sensitive files. Hackers place a high value on privileged information and have developed clever COVID-19 phishing schemes to trick employees into clicking on malicious links. A single breach can have a devastating impact. That’s why it is crucial not to move forward until an expert gives the all-go signal.

  • Microsoft Teams: There are software packages that allow businesses to create digital project spaces for collaborative purposes. This may be a perfect time to invest in this online resource. It provides real-time communication such a virtual meetings and administrative governance. The platform also gives the firm’s leadership a space to deliver key messages and motivation as needed. Bonding and communication are essential during this period of uncertainty.

Shifting to a Cloud-based system to facilitate a remote workforce may seem like a challenge at first. But one of the positives law firm partners may discover is the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the Cloud. Although firms may view this move as a short-term solution, there are tangible long-term advantages that can be leveraged after the crisis subsides.