Partner – Legelata Law Firm, Armenia
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?
- The pandemic has proved that a tense office environment with lots of meetings and discussion is not a must for effective work. The opposite, more relaxed atmosphere and distant communication proved to be more productive especially for part of legal work which required tense analyses and creative solutions.
- It is noteworthy, that the pandemic has also impacted the way we think about the client and their needs. While a law firm would employ more reactive approach by responding to requests from clients, we have adopted a pro-active approach by anticipating the needs of the clients in the fast changing environment for the business amid the pandemic and not least to be more communicative in the absence of everyday usual format of meetings. We felt that the effective communication and effective communication links are adding value to the work which we used to do routinely before.
- Distant work and communication also placed emphasis on how selective we need to be to the issues at hand every day. What is key to the effective performance of work, how do we measure it and what are the issues that need to be paid attention to first. These issues come up not only in the context of organizing distant work, but also cutting through the not-required communication and functions deployed before. Overall, this was a good opportunity to become more effective managers and value creators for our team and for our clients.
- Last, but not least, the situation also gave an opportunity to innovate in the way we organize, manage, communicate and resolve. It was a good shock to change the tete a tete culture and place emphasis on technology to keep track of, communicate, manage and resolve issues.
- The negative side of the pandemic was that we fell short of seeing expansion of businesses of many of our clients as it obviously had negative impact on economic activity.
- We also felt that the pandemic was a wider shock to the justice and regulatory system which were not ready to conduct the matters electronically and by use of distant communication means. Many of our clients seeking permits and licenses or having their cases entertained in the courts shared our frustration with extended deadlines and turnarounds.
2. Will you and your firm/company continue to use flexible and agile working in the future? Will you reduce the size of your physical office space?
Office space has become a secondary asset during the pandemic. Usually in the legal industry offices are the proof of not only existence but also degree of establishment of the law firm and were an important factor for bridging information asymmetry between the lawyers and the clients. This seems to now be obsolete. We can deem to have reduced the size of our office since we hired lawyers to do the work by use of their own facilities.
Furthermore, we understood that this approach gives us the possibility to be more efficient in deploying more open network approach in serving our client needs by deploying legal management skills rather than maintaining physical presence and offices. This approach not only reduces not required costs and ads value itself, but it also brings more opportunities and knowledge to conduct our affairs to the best interests of our clients.
3. How have you employed legal tech during the crisis? What has been successful and what has been lacking?
We are loyal users of App4legal for a number of years now which is essential to our everyday operations and planning. The team in App4legal has been very agile and responsive in developing the features of the application which we thought would be required for the situation. KPI dashboards to follow the matters, effective integration of essential functions of a law firm in one platform made it easy to keep our team together, organize our work efficiently and deliver results consistently.
4. How do you see the advancement of legal tech affecting the legal industry in the next 10 years?
We feel that in most advanced jurisdictions the legal tech will be taking out lots of work from routine and mid-level transactions, leaving lawyers to handle those matters which require complex solutions to non-standard situations. The transactional legal market hence will shrink since contract creation required for the exchange to take place between parties will be handled with a click to create a smart contract.
On more macro-level and in connection with litigation, large number of small litigants will probably have their routine disputes resolved through AI solutions while the human factor will be limited to supervision for error and development of law. Therefore, the lawyer’s role would become more of a regulator by suggesting the appropriate rules to regulate the relations in the society and that of a developer – to develop the legal rules through conduct of strategic litigation.
5. Has your firm/company changed its remuneration structure during the crisis? Will the firm/company consider using a “Keystone” fee-sharing or hybrid remuneration model in future?
Our firm has deployed more open network structure for recruiting, maintaining and developing talent. While pandemic has created a considerably effective environment for use of Keystone fee sharing arrangements, we are open to deploying any arrangement which will provide the best quality for the best value for our clients.
6. Name one key thing that will be different in the legal profession in 10 years time.
We feel that the ability to analyze, synthetize new ideas and provide for creative solutions to the issues will become the most important if not the only important quality of the lawyer in the future. With many things with AI, the lawyers will need to take on the role of those upholding the values of the constitution and the society in large.