COVID-19 – One Year In, Now What?
Spring has sprung, and we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Undoubtedly, COVID-19 has accelerated widespread changes in the overall legal market. In terms of Legalpeople’s core business – providing document review teams and specialized/substantive support to law firms and corporations on a contract basis – the biggest change we’ve seen by far is that our clients have supported remote work.
Document Review During COVID-19
When the COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020, Legalpeople immediately transitioned all ongoing document review projects (approximately 700 working contractors nationwide) to remote review. We addressed client security concerns with a customized virtual desktop platform, secure email, stringent work from home agreements, and project management. Legalpeople project managers are attorneys and e-discovery experts who oversee document review projects through a variety of metrics, including daily individual and team productivity, quality assurance, and deadline management.
Specialized Staffing During COVID-19
Although document review projects continued despite the COVID-19 lockdown, most of our orders and ongoing assignments for specialized contract attorneys and paralegals were either paused or cancelled as clients took a wait and see approach. Business in this market remained very slow until Fall 2020, when things began to pick back up.
It’s now Spring 2021 and what a difference a year makes! Here at Legalpeople, we’ve seen an explosion in the specialized contract market across the U.S., with orders in all practice areas and levels of experience. The transactional market is especially busy, with increased demand for attorneys who have experience in commercial/in-house contracts, technology/IT, mergers and acquisitions, marketing and advertising, securities, capital markets, public company compliance/governance, and entertainment. Meanwhile, the litigation market has been steady, particularly for attorneys who specialize in labor and employment, as well as general commercial matters. Making a comeback is real estate and we’ve already filled several orders in commercial leasing, acquisitions and dispositions.
Although the COVID pandemic appears to be getting under control, we believe that remote document review projects will continue to be an option going forward. For clients that prefer to staff their reviews in our Legalpeople Project Centers, we’re continuing to monitor the situation with the health and safety of our contractors and internal employees as our highest priority.
We think remote work will remain an option for specialized assignments, too. For clients that eliminated or downsized their office space during the pandemic, there may not be room to house temporary attorneys. With modern technology, it’s never been easier for clients to manage their workload virtually. Some clients have implemented creative solutions, such as virtual “job” boards with assignments and deadlines where contractors can pick and choose the assignments that best fit their schedules. Online video platforms such as Zoom and Citrix enable clients and contractors to meet and stay in touch as often as necessary to keep workflow and deadlines on track. For those clients that are beginning to return to the office, we’re already seeing flexible arrangements that allow contractors to work hybrid onsite/remote schedules.
COVID has brought many changes to the legal market. Clients and contractors alike will need to be flexible as we move forward, but if the last year is any indication, the new normal will be a huge success!