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Covid-19: Changemaker for the legal sector?

An audience of almost 100 tuned in on Zoom to hear from a panel of senior legal industry leaders from nexa law, EY, Elevate Services, and Simmons & Simmons. Our very own Nigel Clark was in the hot seat as moderator for the event and put a series oftough questions to the panel of experts.

The event was promoted by 2to3days, a purpose led company whose mission it is to advance women’s equality in the workplace through the power of flexible working.

In a sector which is notoriously reluctant to change and slow to innovate, the debate exploredwhat hope is there for more beneficial change in the legal sector? Will Covid-19 be a line in the sand that prompts law firms to find better ways of working in the future?

At Nexa we think we’ve already pushed the boundaries of change in a sector that has operated in the same way for hundreds of years. No longer are lawyers tied to a desk and beholden to a partnership where hours worked is the only measure of success.

Lawyers at Nexa are freed from the drudgery of the commute and the ever-increasing demands of their employer and can work when, where and how they like! This level of liberation is not something the legal sector is renowned for, but it’s a model which is proving popular. Our team at nexa has grown to over 45 high calibre lawyers who have largely come from traditional firms which no longer serve their needs.

But will Covid-19 prompt these traditional firms to adopt alternative ways of working for the benefit of both its people and clients? And what did the panel think?

The reluctance of lawyers to change stems from what they’re trained and paid to do; spot problems and mitigate them. So change is always going to be slow and often made only in response to external factors. Covid-19 will likely motivate firms to re-evaluate their offerings in the same way as the Global Financial Crisis did over a decade ago.

We’re likely to adopt the vernacular of pre and post Covid-19 to describe our different ways ofworking before and after. The greatest benefit to come from these strangest of strange times is likely to be the growing acceptance of flexible working. No longer do lawyers need to be in the same office day in day out, and we have proven that, in our sector at least, business-life can go on even when we’re confined to our homes. Where Nexa has led with its flexible approach, others will surely follow.

Not only will a more flexible and people-centred approach to the way we work lead to better outcomes for lawyers, it will generate greater efficiencies for clients too. Law firms will start toquestion whether their expensive (and currently empty) offices are a good use of financial resources; a cost which they inevitably pass on to clients. Where previously pockets of the industry had begun to work in more modern and agile ways, the last month has seen the whole sector doing so. There seems to be a broad consensus that doing so hasn’t harmed productivity or efficiency, and may even had improved it.

So will Covid-19 be a changemaker for the legal profession? We certainly hope so! At Nexa we’re proof, if proof were needed, that flexible and agile ways of working driven by technology suit the legal sector very well.

Watch full recording of the webinar on the 2to3days website here

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