Resolution, the association of family lawyers, has reported that the majority of its members expect to continue working from home when the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
The association has been carrying out a survey of its members on future working arrangements during its annual conference. Early findings indicate that at least fifty per cent do not expect to return to office working.
Many members have indicated a preference for spending half of their time working in an office and the other half working from home.
All of this raises two questions: will this be what we actually see when the lockdown restrictions end, and will it affect their clients?
As to whether it will actually happen, obviously only time will tell. It may be that whilst there is no initial rush to return to the office, gradually more people will return, attracted by the camaraderie and support that working in an office provides.
Of course it is not just the decision of individual lawyers. Their firms may be attracted by home working as a way of reducing the amount of expensive office space that they require. And once that space is gone, it is unlikely to be replaced.
Whatever, it does still seem likely that many clients will have to get used to the idea of their lawyers not being in the office five days a week.
Which brings us to the second question: how will those clients be affected?
The big difference will surely be in access to their lawyer. Whereas the historic model has been for lawyers to take instructions from, and give advice to, their clients primarily in the course of face-to-face meetings in the office, that will have to change. Obviously, clients will not be able to meet with their lawyers at home, and even where the lawyer does work partly in the office the opportunities for meetings will be fewer.
Clients rightly demand both advice and information about the progress of their case, and both could be adversely affected by lawyers working from home. Whilst many clients will have been prepared to accept problems with the service they receive during the pandemic, most will not expect such problems to continue after the pandemic is over.
Of course, none of this is a problem if the lawyers use an online platform which enables their clients to access their case file and ask questions whenever they want, 24/7. Which is where Family Law Café comes in…
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