Sharon Nelson and John Simek’s article “Double Whammy on Law Firms: COVID-19 and The Troubled Economy” was recently featured in Slaw Magazine. Slaw is a Canadian online legal magazine.
When lawyers turned the calendar page to January 2020, they could not have dreamt of the two-fold nightmare that would descend upon the profession so quickly. A global pandemic and a tanking economy at the same time? We thought we had seen the end of hard times when we finally emerged from The Great Recession in 2009. Some of our lawyer friends still have lines of credit to pay down from that recession.
While government leaders say the economy will “come roaring back” or “I’ll bring the economy back,” most lawyers are skeptical, to say the least.
The New Normal
What have we seen so far? Beyond the fact that virtually all lawyers are working remotely, with some phased reopening in the works, we have seen dismal news.
Clio’s survey, released in May 2020 showed that during March, new legal matters were down more than 30% compared to the first five weeks of 2020 and down by more than 40% from the year’s highest weekly averages. 56% percent of legal professionals say they have seen a serious reduction in the number of people asking for legal help, and 53% say they are significantly less busy.
Though understandable, 49% of companies say that if they had a legal issue now, they would probably delay getting legal help until the pandemic has receded.
Sixty-seven percent of lawyers are worried about the success (and even the survival) of their practice and 57% are worried about making a living over the next few months.