While many businesses have adjusted their operations to accommodate work from home, lawyers face a unique set of challenges that make serving their clients remotely more difficult. By using a few extra tools and techniques, you can continue to deliver the best services to your clients and keep working at the same pace as you would at the office. These five tips will help you thrive while working from home as a lawyer.
1. Find a private, quiet place
No matter where you work, your clients need to trust you. Make sure your clients receive the same level of professionalism and privacy as they would in your regular office. The location you choose as your in-home office should also minimize noisy distractions, as clients may feel uncomfortable or less forthright if they can hear children playing or other activity in the background.
Also, ensure you are working in an area where your clients’ information can’t be accidentally seen or heard by others. This includes staying away from smart devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home that are always listening for their wake word.
Keeping your workspace secure and separate will help keep your credibility, and allows you to step away and disconnect at the end of the day.
2. Have a good, secure internet connection
To keep up your usual pace, you may need to increase your home internet speed. This will be especially important if you regularly host video conferences, or if you have family members using the same connection while you are working from home.
Additionally, you'll want to make sure that your connection is secure, as you are dealing with private information and cannot risk a data breach. If you’re not already, consider subscribing to a virtual private network (VPN) service to add another layer of security.
3. Maintain privacy while hosting or attending video conferences
If you can’t meet clients in person, the next best option is to have virtual face-to-face meetings. Many lawyers rely on tools such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Cisco Webex, or Microsoft Teams to meet with their clients virtually.
Ideally, you should use what your firm has already adopted as in-house technology, but be prepared to guide your clients through the features and processes. This may include sending them pre-meeting links and allowing time for new users to register an account before an initial meeting. If your client has a different software preference, remain open to their needs while keeping an eye on the security implications of whichever tool is used.
Similarly, it is important that you maintain a strict level of privacy during virtual meetings. Be aware of the possibility of being recorded in a video or phone conference setting as well as who might view the session. If you’ll be sharing your screen, be sure to quit email applications and adjust settings so message previews don't pop up during presentations or video conferencing.
4. Invest in the right software
Maintain your effectiveness outside of the office by using the right technology. Presumably your bases are already covered for basic business operations like email, document management, and computer backups.
Once that's addressed, consider the specialized tools you’ll need to do your job. If that includes legal research, investing in WestlawNext Canada to quickly bring up cases or stay current with the latest developments and changes in the law is the right answer for you. Or perhaps your firm will want to adopt Practical Law Automated Document powered by Contract Express to quickly draft customized agreements and contracts.
Lawyers should also take full advantage of the remote accessibility and privacy of client portals and other collaboration features their firm may provide. Advanced services like HighQ shine when law firms require collaboration among peers and clients, regardless of their physical location.
5. Stay aware of current events and its impact on law
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, lawyers need to stay up to date on the pandemic’s effect on the law. Thomson Reuters legal experts have compiled several free resources on our COVID-19 Canada Resource Centre to assist you as you continue to respond to issues.
Here you will find helpful items like:
- Webcasts featuring experts discussing some of the most pressing legal, strategic, and practical considerations for you during this outbreak.
- A Global Coronavirus Toolkit that provides firms across jurisdictions with a guide on how to navigate COVID-19, pandemics, and business interruptions.
- A list of suspended court hearings and limitation periods in lieu of COVID-19.
- Advice on how to keep cyber-safe when working from home.
The COVID-19 Canada Resource Centre is maintaining timely updates with more information and tools as COVID-19 remains a major global issue. Check out this page to learn more about what it can provide you and your firm.