General Counsel & Investment Committee Member – Hassad Food, Qatar
1. How has the Covid-19 crisis affected the way you work as a lawyer? What are the key positives and negatives that have emerged out of lockdown?
There has been a substantive effect on how we are working as lawyers in our business – e.g., in terms of dealing (both legally and practically) with the effect of COVID on existing contracts, as well as proactively thinking about how COVID might affect every new business undertaking. So on the positive side, it has spurred innovative thought to adapt to challenging times. On the negative side, given business travel is non-existent, it has adversely affected potential investment transactions where establishing personal relationships is so important; it has also meant that court disputes, regulatory processes, etc. have been substantially delayed in many jurisdictions where we conduct business.
2. Will you and your company continue to use flexible and agile working in future? Will you reduce the size of your physical office space?
Given Qatar’s extensive, detailed and effective management of the crisis on the ground in Qatar, and the fact that we have our own dedicated office building, it has more or less been business as usual re: the office, so no flexible and agile working has been required generally. Of course, there are some significant changes in that external meetings are held via videoconference, employees are required to wear masks outside their office/in internal meetings, and employees are checked every day upon entering the building for temperature and to confirm their EHTERAZ app (a Qatari government requirement) shows they do not have nor have they been exposed to COVID, nor are they required to be in quarantine.
3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis? What has been successful and what has been lacking?
We already employ a suitable amount of legal tech: the crisis hasn’t affected that.
4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?
Legal tech is important given its ability to increase efficiency and effectiveness, but I see it as evolutionary, not revolutionary.
5. Has your firm changed its remuneration structure during the crisis? Will the firm consider using a “Keystone” or hybrid remuneration model in future?
6. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years’ time.
I can’t: although legal tech will bring about certain improvements and there may be more remote working, etc., given what I know about the profession, I still envision a world of law schools offering the same degree programs, law firm offices, lock-step or modified lock-step compensation structures, billable hours, law firm panels, emailing documents, no change to the litigation process, etc. I would, however, hope that one key thing that is different in 10 years time is a real change when it comes to diversity and inclusion.