As the current pandemic continues to force people and businesses to reduce close contact, lawyers and legal professionals are increasingly reliant on technology solutions that enable them to continue advising clients. Nowhere is the provision of this advice more critical than in the case of legal clinics, which are protecting the entitlements of those bearing the greatest financial, physical, and social toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. As these solutions slowly become the norm in the legal sector, many are considering the additional benefits of remote work, and the prospect of a permanent transition.
Given no vaccine has been discovered to help combat the spread of COVID-19, it is critically important to comply with social distancing requirements. While holding physical meetings where all parties remain 6 feet (or 1.5 metres) apart can significantly reduce the chance of transmission, the risk of touching common surfaces or objects means that that chance is not fully eliminated.
Using remote video conferencing tools like Legaler is one of a handful of ways to conduct meetings with zero chance of transmission between meeting parties. It is particularly important to choose legal-specific platforms with features that support electronic execution of documents, including e-signatures and remote witnessing. This is essential for legal clinics whose clients are often elderly, disabled, or suffer from poor health conditions. Adopting a comprehensive suite of video conferencing tools for meetings allows legal clinics to continue doing their vital social work without compromising the health of their clients.
Accessibility and language
Legal advice is highly complex, marrying complex regulations with clients’ aspirations and emotional needs. The challenge is even greater for legal clinics providing advice to disadvantaged clients, not only in terms of conveying the relevant rules, but in ascertaining exactly what clients want. Email correspondence and telephone meetings are often inadequate tools to accomplish this. The visual aspect of video conferencing provides the interpersonal connection that is essential in these situations, particularly for lawyers advising clients with language difficulties. Tools like Legaler allow lawyers to see the whole picture – literally – of clients’ body language and facial expressions so they can help in the best way possible.
Like all lawyers, legal clinics deal with a lot of documents of significant consequence. When clients misplace or lose these documents, a case can be set back by weeks or months. This is more likely to happen when clients lack the resources to have sophisticated or permanent organising systems to ensure that all documents and correspondence is accounted for. Adopting a complete meeting tool designed for the legal industry means that all messages, documents and meetings (in the form of optional recordings) are saved securely in a single place. Legal clinics will never have to deal with vital documents being distributed across different email accounts and mailing addresses again.
As the world pivots to a new era of remote work, law firms are in a unique position to recalibrate old ways of working, saving time and money in doing so. For legal clinics, the potential gains are even greater, enabling our most important lawyers to provide advice in a safer, more efficient way for those who need it most.