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Woman video conferencing on laptop at home The legal industry needs three things to work: Paying clients; a functioning court system; and the ability to use our skills to solve problems. As the COVID-19 crisis crawls toward the end of the second month of shutdown, clients are in crisis and courts are triaging. Where does that leave practicing lawyers? In a good position to use our skills to solve problems even while we’re practicing from our kitchen tables or basement “offices,” despite the historically unprecedented systemic impediments.

The pandemic is rapidly forcing changes in lawyer behavior and lifestyle that are accelerating the transformation of our business environment into a permanent 21st century world of electronic communications, virtual offices and networked interactions. I say this as a 60-year-old litigator who learned to do legal research using hard copy volumes of case reporters and Shepherds and who still only feels truly comfortable reviewing cases and documents on paper with a pen. So I’m no apostle for tech law. I’m just a guy who likes and needs to practice law and doesn’t want to sit by and wait while my clients’ cases languish, my colleagues face endless economic anxiety in an industry that has already lost 64,000 jobs (see Patrick Smith, “Legal Industry Shed 64,000 Jobs in April as Layoffs and Furloughs Spread,” New York Law Journal, May 8, 2020) and our profession loses its luster out of perceived lack of functionality during a global pandemic that will shape and define our business not just for months but for far longer (at least until a vaccine for this silent killer is found and implemented globally).

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