Will COVID turn lawyers from Luddites to leaders?

Lawyers are known for their resistance to change. But COVID-19 has forced a great deal of change, technological and otherwise, on the profession.

The key question is whether the evolution will continue. And that’s where reluctance to change becomes an asset: after all, reluctance to change and reluctance to change back are, if you ask me, of the same species, – – – or at least close.

So my guess is we’re not going back. Does that mean, however, that the profession will continue to evolve? Consider, for example, that after all the brouhaha about alternative fee arrangements, all signs are that the hourly rate still reigns.

But technology, arguably, is different. Unlike billing, powerful third party developers and tech companies control its evolution. And all of them are looking for an edge – – – which is to say, selling the latest and greatest to their customers.

Lawyers (and courts), then, who intend to keep using their new COVID-19 technology and processes, especially if these are cloud-based, will have no choice but to evolve. Consider, for example, how relatively quickly Microsoft and others abandon support for old versions of products like Windows: they don’t ask whether you want to hold on to the old, but make it clear that they’ll leave you behind if you cling.

All this ties in neatly with the profession’s endemic reluctance to change: after all, it’s hard to change back when you really have no choice.

For more information on how COVID-19 has changed the profession, take a look at our Justice and the pandemic series:

Justice and the pandemic: the new gold standard

Justice and the pandemic: how Canada ranks

Justice and the pandemic: pushing for modernization

Justice and the pandemic: stakeholders in the system

Justice and the pandemic: what needs to change

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