2020 was a year of slowing down. Everyone’s day-to-day life – no matter your profession or where you live – looks drastically different today than it did a year ago.
In my industry, lawyers have had to mourn the loss of sometimes the most rewarding parts of their job – going to court and interacting with clients.
Many of our conflicts and casework has come to a standstill. Divorces are on the rise, yet not many courts are open. Breaches of contract are happening in the commercial real estate industry, but with courts closed, how do our clients move forward? And how do we as lawyers find the satisfaction in our jobs again?
Consider The Home Office Permanent
Many attorneys reflected on how disjointed their work life felt after the shift to working at home. It was common to put off getting a second set of monitors, desks and other essentials for a home office during the shelter in place orders because it was supposed to be only temporary.
Now, as we are zooming into month 7 of work-from-home, (please forgive the pun) it’s time to either move things from your work office to your home office or make more permanent (and comfortable) work-from-home accommodations.
“As for my professional life, I have come to accept that I need to spend money on making my home office as efficient a workplace as my office in Midtown. I am setting up a second monitor and buying a laser printer, and I will have better lighting for those video calls. I am thankful that I actually need these things; my work is busier than ever, a more than full recovery from the standstill in April,” reflects Angela Hsu, counsel at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner.
This can help productivity by making your work-from-home situation feel more routine and help to create a little separation in your home life and work life. Let’s be real, taking Zoom calls from the same place you unwind at the end of the day makes both activities feel unnatural.
Additionally, many larger companies are seeing this new virtual work environment as a way to decrease overhead and have declared work-from-home the status quo through the end of 2021.
Find A Way To Socialize And Collaborate With Colleagues – Outside of Zoom
Many attorneys miss the hustle and bustle of the weekdays – collaborating with colleagues, work lunches, client meetings and going to court.
“I mourn the loss of connection. Zoom is not the same as lunch with friends or attending a live event where I will see many people I know. When I have invited friends to socialize in person, not being able to give a hug or even get close feels awkward and unnatural,” recounts Hsu.
While there is an end in sight with a vaccine coming in 2021, it will be a slow move back to conference rooms and in-person events. Finding more creative ways to meet up with colleagues or clients outside can be a solution, but as Hsu said it’s still not the same as the pre-COVID meetups.
Mediation and Arbitration As Court Alternatives
Last but not least, the biggest change in many attorney’s day-to-day work life has been court closures. Since March 2020, thirty-four states suspended in-person proceedings statewide and sixteen states suspended in-person proceedings at the local level.
Without in-person proceedings, many clients are frustrated about the lack of momentum in their cases. And many attorneys have found themselves backlogged on cases with continued delays.
Although frustrating, technology has assisted in moving cases forward without in-person hearings. Some court proceedings have continued with “Zoom court” or other video conferencing technologies. However, many attorneys have found virtual mediation and arbitration a more timely and affordable solution for their clients’ dispute resolutions.
There are many advantages to virtual mediations and arbitrations. Location and travel are no longer a barrier to clients or experts. Additionally, it can be more efficient when amending documents or agreements together with the screenshare feature. Consider bringing forward mediation by ZOOM as a solution for your clients’ unresolved case.
Finding A Zoom Mediation Expert For Your Clients
KIM L. KIRN has been leading Missouri and Illinois in virtual mediations since the onset of the pandemic.
To book Kim or inquire about her expertise and availability, submit a contact form or call today.