COVID-19: The new normal

It is hard to believe that in the February issue of the Orange Rag there wasn’t one mention of COVID-19 and that in the space of just a few weeks the world that we assumed to be normal has been utterly transformed. The latest issue came out on Friday – see here if you haven’t already read it:

In the face of unprecedented compulsory remote working across the globe, the legal sector has, as a generalisation, coped extraordinarily well. With the majority of large law firms still on premises, many have executed disaster recovery and business continuity plans underpinned by VPN or VDI and notably layered with cloud-based collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, which have seen an explosive uptake in use tofacilitate both work meetings and online social events.

Zoom benefits from genuine ease of use for video conferences and has been an immediate go-to for a vast number of legal organisations and vendors. It’s surprising how quickly people have adopted online socials includingwork quizzes and team drinks, online planking and in one case a nine-hour virtual leaving drinks. Make sure you’re aware of the latest privacy/security concerns surrounding Zoom:

Microsoft Teams has seen a huge uptick in use among law firms and legal organisations – it is a natural choice given the fact that most lawyers live in Microsoft but COVID-19 has accelerated adoption from months or years to days or weeks. While some firms have had trouble training their staff on Teams at speed, other organisations report fast adoption. KPMG moved to Teams recently and when we canvassed the topic on LinkedIn – including whether users had suffered performance issues – head of legal operations transformation services, Nicola Brooks, said: “We moved over to Teams recently at KPMG (pre COVID-19) and absolutely love it. It takes the strain away from our bursting inboxes. We use it for calls as standard but for full collaboration on documents and comms.”

Francisco Manrique, global head of legal for Exeltis & Xiromed, two pharma brands at giant Insud Pharma, said: “We started working on Microsoft Teams months ago and this is definitely being of great help these days! Not only for team alignment and collaboration but also to stay in touch, which is something key when people are in quarantine.”

Unsurprisingly, firms and legal departments that were focusing on new projects have in many cases put their energy into coping with the shift towards remote working and ensuring that vital functions and processes that we normally take for granted are happening as they should. But as things settle down into this new normal the big question that we will be addressing in the coming weeks, is, what now? What next?