The virtual communications practices adopted of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic are driving permanent changes in trial practice. Court-promoted pandemic expedients such as virtual motion practice, preliminary and compliance conferences, and depositions have proven to be effective and efficient and will likely be adopted as standard practices. The New York State Bar Association’s Trial Lawyers Section has also found that the use of virtual technology for strategy meetings, settlement conferences and mediations is becoming the default. The primary benefit of working virtually is the obvious savings of time and expenses but there are other benefits as well. It is helping us prepare for a post-pandemic world in which AI and related technologies will render skills in document generation as obsolete as typewriting or early word processing are today.
In a post-pandemic world, we will rely more heavily on technology, and the next generation of legal professionals will need to understand its potential better than lawyers today do. Future trial lawyers will need to demonstrate their technological proficiency from their first job on so that they are braced to handle emerging technology as their law firms evolve. They will also need to find new ways to attract clients and build fruitful relationships without using traditional networking events/sponsorship/hospitality tools, as technological solutions and social distancing become more conventional. This will present early opportunities for junior lawyers to distinguish themselves through finding creative (and effective) solutions to technology-driven challenges.