It has now been more than six months since the pandemic forced a general shutdown of much of the economy. And while some businesses have recently begun the process of reopening, the legal profession largely remains remote. All signs suggest that will remain the case for the foreseeable future. Courts continue to appear reluctant to go back to business as usual, at least as a general matter, and many judicial functions, including oral arguments, hearings and settlement conferences, have proved workable even without in-person attendance. At the same time, the potential hazards of travel have resulted in client relations becoming largely a remote enterprise as well.
These developments have had some positive effects on the legal profession. For example, while working remotely with limited child care options has presented significant challenges for attorneys with children, it has also allowed them to spend more time with their families than the profession might otherwise allow. Working from home has also brought greater awareness to familial issues that normally couldn’t be addressed from the office. More broadly, many of us never stopped to think twice about traveling for in-person client meetings that weren’t remotely urgent. While there is no substitute for in-person interactions, the pandemic may result in firms and clients thinking harder about when the burdens of business travel are necessary. And the move toward online court proceedings has generally increased the transparency and visibility of how courts function.
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