Depending upon with whom you are talking, when the subject of what the relationship between the COVID-19 pandemic and the business and practical aspects of the practice of law is discussed, you will hear both that the pandemic has shut down the legal world by adding to the cost of obtaining solutions to legal problems, and that solutions to problems raised by the pandemic have made the legal world far more efficient, such that the cost of providing solutions to digital problems can be far lower than what we saw a year ago. The positions are contradictory but, oddly, both are correct. In this month’s article, I will discuss why that is true.
Changes Brought on by the Pandemic
When the pandemic was publicly described by governments and others, and when the shutdowns brought on by the pandemic—of business offices and other locations (restaurants, beaches, movie theaters, stadiums and other locations where athletic events are played and observed)—commenced, the initial reaction was that nothing could be done until the shutdowns were lifted. The logic behind this reaction is obvious. Clients were shutting down, thus making the prospect of getting paid for services considerably less likely. Buildings housing law firms also were shut down, as was mass transit and many key roads, making it all but impossible for legal workers to get to their offices, to courthouses and other locations. Vendors who supplied services to law firms, such as e-discovery vendors, could not provide such services, as employees could not get to the vendors’ offices, could not go to law firms or the firms’ clients to collect data, and so on. As well, courts were shut down, suspending almost all deadlines for producing e-discovery and evidence in support of motions as well as schedules for trials and motions.
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