On 17 April Legal IT Insider’s editor Caroline Hill hosted a live webinar with Litera’s CEO Avaneesh Marwaha, in a thought-provoking conversation looking at the shift among law firms to home working, including what has worked well, what has presented more of a challenge, and what the top priorities should be for leadership now. 

As a whole the legal industry is relieved that the shift to working from home has been fairly seamless. But over and above productivity it’s employees’ mental health that leaders need to worry about. How are staff coping with working from home and making that giant adjustment?

While M&A work has gone down, other work such as restructuring and refinancing is up and it’s interesting to note that productivity in some areas has increased. Marwaha told us: “If you’re just doing litigation it might slow down but in Chicago for example, we’re seeing a lot of Zoom court meetings and they are finding ways to keep that moving.” At Litera, despite the fact that sales is inevitably down, the company is seeing up uptick in productivity. Marwaha said: “Developers and product teams like being able to focus on work without interruption and we anticipate certain areas will be more productive than they were before.”

What’s interesting is the acceleration among law organisations of the adoption of collaboration tools. Two months ago, Micrososft Teams was only largely used internally but we’re seeing firms using it externally to collaborate with client. Marwaha said: “We’re seeing more document management system integration with Teams so you can maintain consistent communication. We are looking at how to bring our own tool set into the collaborative space – it’s on the roadmap that but that’s being accelerated. The question will be, does the industry narrow down the vehicles used for communication? The legal industry is good at going broad and then settling on a smaller number of tools.”

He adds: “The question is how any provider competes with Microsoft when it develops software so quickly and securely. If I’m a law firm, I’m already paying for Teams and it’s already part of my ecosystem, so it’s hard to imagine why you would use anything else.”

It is key in managing expectations for people to understand remote working isn’t short term. Marwaha said: “People need to understand they aren’t going to back to work on 1 May. We are going to end up somewhere else and that may be two years away. Some time in the next 90 days we will go to a situation where one day a week critical people will be in the office and then we’ll sanitise.”

He adds: “We think our work from home will be until May 31st. I don’t’ think we need to be back in the office first. We’re not going to get in the way of manufacturing or retail, if we can stay at home longer let’s be one of the last to go back to the office. When the workforce is back then the software sector can go back 30 days after that.”

In the meantime, Litera has launched both Litera TV and The Changing Lawyer LIVE! One day conference and the company’s efforts to create opportunities for the industry to connect.

Make sure you listen to the webinar here: https://vimeo.com/410031346