The global health crisis has caused a seismic shift in the way that legal services are conducted and delivered. With many law firms and organisations forced to close their offices for months and increasing talk of hugely reduced on-site staff numbers for at least the rest of the year, investments in companies’ remote-working infrastructure are rising. In fact, only today national firm Slater & Gordon announced that remote working will become the norm for its 2,000 staff once the pandemic ends. For lawyers, cutting-edge LegalTech innovation like Luminance is paramount for establishment of the ‘virtual office’.
The death of the office?
With experts predicting that social distancing is needed until at least the end of the year to prevent a fresh outbreak of coronavirus, it is uncertain when and how we will return to the office. For many, practicing safe social distancing in the traditional office space is impractical, if not impossible. As such, when and if businesses reopen, it is likely that firms will opt for limited hours and flexible schedules in a bid to avoid overcrowding.
Moreover, with a recent study by SquareFoot finding that companies in New York City spend an average of $17,020 per employee on office space annually, many businesses are rethinking the need to work in a conventional office space. Only last week, tech giant Twitter pledged that from now on, all of its employees will be allowed to work from home permanently. In the legal world, Eversheds Sutherland have followed this trend, announcing that funds previously devoted to real estate will now be re-directed to investment into technology. The firm’s Managing Partner, Keith Proud, declared: “We won’t go back to how it was before.”
At a recent webinar, Yaniv Aronowich, Partner at leading Israeli firm, Tadmor Levy, told Luminance that: “Firms that do not adopt technology will be left behind. In 10 years from now, not using automated due diligence, drafting and project management platforms will be like not using a mobile phone today (or still using a fax machine…).”
Technology: driving the change
Certainly, the disruptive effects of the pandemic has sparked a renewed interest in technology; a depressed economic environment means firms and organisations will naturally be searching for efficiency-drivers. As Yaniv Aronowich comments: “In the current climate, law firms have to transform their business models to be more cost-efficient- tools like Luminance can make this possible.”
By blending both supervised and unsupervised machine learning, using Luminance, legal teams do not have to spend months training and configuring a system before they can even use it. Instead, Luminance can be rapidly deployed via the cloud, requires no pre-training or configuration, and most lawyers are beginning their first review in Luminance within hours of installation. As a result, Luminance enables lawyers to conduct rapid and insightful reviews whilst working remotely.
Moreover, the technology’s ability to read huge troves of documents, instantly surfacing areas of importance and hidden risk, empowers firms to boost productivity and efficiency during this critical period. From a force majeure review to a DSAR (Data Subject Access Request), Luminance works alongside the lawyer to accelerate the review, resulting in time savings of at least 50% on day one.
Remote working and increased productivity
The benefits of remote working are well-documented. Most recently, Airtasker found that remote working actually increases employee’s productivity and may also contribute to a better work-life balance. Nonetheless, there are some obvious drawbacks to homeworking. For corporate lawyers who are used to working in teams to complete projects, based either at their office or at client sites, technology can remove some of the friction caused by remote working by facilitating easy collaboration. Moreover, the pressure to deliver the same high-quality legal advice in a new environment is another obstacle for lawyers.
Luminance’s seamless workflow and collaboration tools are proving essential for lawyers in this current legal climate, allowing advisors to efficiently allocate tasks, eliminate duplicative work and track work progression across teams, firms and countries. Not only that, by cutting through the administrative, mundane tasks, lawyers can redirect their time to the meaningful legal analysis their clients’ value so highly. Looking to the future, firms needs to have the right technology in place to support their current and future lawyers. Jan Smit, Knowledge and Innovation Manager at ‘Magic Circle’ law firm, Slaughter & May, adds: “If we don’t have these resources in place, we might lose that talent…they might go to another firm where these already exist.”
The new reality
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the global economy forever. Whilst the long-term impact cannot be known for certain, it seems clear that this is a time for innovation and opportunity for technology. As Rob Webb QC, Luminance Chairman and former GC of Rolls Royce and British Airways notes, the pandemic is a “catalyst for change”, meaning that irrespective of previous attitudes to remote working, lawyers “…will now have to buy into the revolution.” Technologies like Luminance are more vital than ever, enabling lawyers to not only cope but excel as they just adjust to remote working. Indeed, firms that fail to embrace the technology at their fingertips may be eclipsed by newcomers who do. For now, the virtual office is here to stay.
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