Tips to Prepare Your Law Firm for Remote Work
Given the World Health Organisation’s announcement last Wednesday that the coronavirus has officially reached ‘pandemic’ status, it has become imperative for us as professionals to begin to consider the possibility of having to work from home in the coming days. Although it may be unusual for some of us, it is not completely alien to our clime or the legal sector. The obvious question would then be, How Can We Make This Work?
We share with you 3 simple steps and considerations for you, your family and your organisation:
- Communication is Everything
Many of your employees or colleagues will be working from home for the very first time, which means figuring out how to stay on task in a new ‘work environment’ that may not lend itself to productivity. But there are ways to deliver results and avoid going berserk, from setting up a good workspace to the way you talk to your team.
Communication is the life-blood of any business organisation. Coronavirus or not, the key to working from home is clear communication with your boss – and knowing exactly what’s expected of you. You would need to develop a set of clear objectives/expectations per time for yourself and your team members. These expectations must then be communicated to every member of the team. Where you need to reach out to team members, video is often always better because of the challenge of out of sight, out of mind. Start introducing your team members to various communication tools. A good example is the Case Manager by LawPavilion which is specially adapted for legal practitioners.
- Set up a Workspace and Boundaries
Working from home can make the lines between work and personal life very blurry. What is helpful to maintain a good balance is to have a work area at home. This could be an entire room, another option could simply be to have a chair at the kitchen table. The most basic requirement is a work surface and internet that works. The key element is to make it as distraction-free as possible. You can have a schedule or timetable for the day. You can have a simple way of signifying the end of your remote workday, like putting your laptop away, and avoid working once you’ve signed off for the day.
- Invest in Remote Work Tools
Just as you have work stations set up with the state of the artwork tools for yourself and your team, it is important to set up tools for your remote work.
There are 3 types of tools you will need to make your remote work effective:
- Collaborative tools
- Communication tools
- Tracking tools
These are tools that can allow your team to work together at the same time. For legal professionals, LawPavilion has the most effective Case Management tool for legal professionals to collaborate on – Case Manager.
Case Manager is a cloud-based practice management solution and virtual workspace that has the distinctive capability of pulling resources from a toolkit that contains precedent forms and agreements templates, court forms for courts across the federation and the Regulations of all the major ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals on one hand and a research tool that contains the most cited electronic law report in Nigeria. All your practice needs to be adapted for remote work is quality internet access. Case Manager enables secure storage and remote access to emails, files and documents. Your professionals can collaborate on drafting, make endorsements on case files, set and perform tasks.
It offers lawyers an online workspace from which they can access their emails, files and documents remotely and securely. Case Manager is available for and can be used by lawyers from all styles of practice: from the solo practitioner to lawyers at large law firms.
Key Elements of LawPavilion Case Manager:
- Streamline day-to-day processes, and keep cases organized so you can focus on billable work and grow your revenue.
- Keep track of every key task.
- Access case files or briefs from anywhere and on any device, even your phone.
- Work securely and efficiently from our legal document management software, and benefit from the flexibility of unlimited document storage.
- Integrate emails as well as the Legal Mail.
Apart from the communication that the LawPavilion Case Manager affords you when your team uses the tool, through emailing and commenting, there are other simple communication tools you and your team can explore. One of the most popular tools includes Slack. Many teams across the world trust the tool to allow teamwork and communication as well as sharing tasks and so on. The only downside is that it is not adapted for legal practice or law firms.
In the remote world, it helps when managers can easily keep track of work being done by members of the team. Firms that are familiar with remote work use tracking tools to ensure productivity. These usually have a mix of time tracking and task tracking. The tools are free but the paid versions offer you more service, team reach and so on. Examples of such tools include Time Doctor, Timely and the Case Manager which has a special time tracking feature which all team members can activate whenever they start a task. This is especially necessary for lawyers because of the time-based billing system that many firms and practitioners operate.
Other LawPavilion resources that will be helpful during this period are some of the products we have developed specifically for the legal industry. They include LawPavilion Prime and SAT – Solicitors and Arbitrators Toolkit. LawPavilion Prime, our robust legal research and analytics tool that contains the most used, reliable and most cited electronic law report in Nigeria. LawPavilion Prime helps you find the law: find it fast, easy, with robust content including the LFN, CPR, Cases with Analytics (locus classicus, exceptions, conflicting decisions, case history and precedence rating etc.) and in the most cost-effective way possible.
The SAT offers in house counsel and commercial lawyers all the tools they need for their effective practice. Some key features within the solution include:
- Precedent Forms & Agreements Templates: Although drafting can be tedious, SAT provides a large library of precedent forms and agreements from various industries.
- Documents: Not only does SAT contain precedents, but we have also used our innovative technology to create templates of the same precedent such that when a user adopts a precedent for use, our SAT keeps a copy of the original template as well as the newly adapted template.
- Regulations: SAT contains a compilation of regulations, policies and guidelines from some of the most notable regulatory bodies in Nigeria such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Agency for Food and Drug Control and Administration (NAFDAC) amongst others.
As you and your team prepare to go remote, it is important to again emphasize the need to ensure your safety and of others around you. Follow the WHO guidelines for protecting yourself during the pandemic.