If you’ve followed business news as the pandemic has unfolded, you’ve no doubt noticed the steady stream of articles claiming the 9-to-5 workday is dead, offices are obsolete, and remote work is the new norm. All too often, such articles are flimsy pieces of click-bait speculation, but collectively they signal something important: Covid-19 has carved deep changes into business culture and practice and, of course, law firms are no exception.
The just-released “2021 Report on the State of the Legal Market” conducted by the Center on Ethics and the Legal Profession at the Georgetown University Law Center and the Thomson Reuters Institute underscores the pervasive nature of this change. Among the report’s many findings were that remote work correlates to no significant disruption in operations (and that most firms acknowledge the practice can work); that the role of technology in the effective delivery of legal services is now widely accepted; that costs can be significantly reduced by introducing changes in staffing and work patterns, reducing expectations of in-person meetings, and increasing the efficiency of digital connections; and finally, that more attention to issues of wellness, work-life balance, and firm culture is crucial not only to law firm business development, but to leadership and employee development, and employee retention, too. These findings constitute a veritable revolution in the world of law and those firms that wish to compete at the top best take note.
Wellness is the Common Denominator
Review the changes above and you will realize that they all place greater emphasis on wellness in some form or other. Remote work means more space for self-care. Improved use of technology means greater efficiency, translating to increased time for those tasks which truly matter. More efficient digital connections and less pressure on in-person meetings implies fewer hours spent stress prepping. And lastly, increased attention to wellness means, naturally, increased wellness.
Traditionally, the world of law hasn’t been one that centers on well-being and balance. Not more than a year and a half ago the American Bar Association published an article titled, “Our Work-Life Balance Needs an Overhaul” which acknowledged the profession’s deep history of long hours and high stress and questioned whether change was possible. Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic (how’s that for a phrase you never thought you would hear?) we now know it is.
Firms that wish to remain competitive in this new landscape need not only recognize this shift but step in to lead the way. This means starting with yourself. After all, you cannot hope to lead a firm that embraces the newfound value of wellness if you, yourself, do not know what the term truly means. Begin with the following.
1. Destigmatize asking for help
The new prevalence of remote work means further decentralized decision making which, itself, means increased delegation of tasks. This is a perfect opportunity to lean on your team for help with the challenges of running a high-octane firm. Embrace this opportunity.
2. Read up on how others are doing it
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, you just need to make sure you get rolling. This means digging into research and seeking outside perspective on how to institute wellness-centered changes in your firm
3. Stay nimble
Change is coming fast right now and the dust has not yet settled. In this moment you need both an open mind and an eye for opportunity. When the pandemic is over, nothing will look the same; nonetheless, those who have tracked the changes and positioned themselves to react will be the ones standing tallest at the end.
To learn more about this and so much more, book a call with me and see if your firm qualifies for Hiring & Empowering’s highly competitive 66-Day Law Firm Turnaround Program. After all, if there were ever a time to jump on making major changes to your firm, it is now, while there is still time to do so.