When the COVID-19 pandemic began, it immediately upended business as usual. And we don’t just mean remote work and Zoom calls. In the face of state-by-state shelter-in-place orders, mass unemployment, a turbulent stock market, and the challenges of keeping a workforce healthy and productive—many in the legal industry were left wondering how bad things could get.
For the legal industry, the most dire predictions have, thankfully, been wrong.
Legal professionals from corporate legal departments, law firms, and third-party vendors largely view their organizations’ response to COVID-19 as a success. Indeed, a massive one.
The success of the legal industry’s response to COVID, as rated by legal professionals themselves, is one of the key takeaways from Logikcull’s new 2021 Corporate In-Housing Survey. This survey follows up on the 2020 report, which offered new benchmarks for in-house approaches to litigation and eDiscovery, outside counsel management, and cost reduction.
Conducted in December of 2019 and January of 2020 and released just weeks before the start of the pandemic, the report offered a candid view into where in-house legal departments were finding success and what they expected for the future.
But no one could have predicted the year that would follow the survey’s release.
In this forthcoming COVID update, Logikcull, for the first time, has expanded the Corporate In-Housing Survey to include the perspectives of the legal industry as a whole.
The results show just how COVID-19 has impacted legal professionals at in-house legal departments, law firms, and third-party service providers. Over 60 organizations responded, giving an inside look into the challenges they’ve faced and successes they’ve encountered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full survey will be released in February, but we couldn’t wait to share the highlights.
1. Legal Professionals Rate Their Response to COVID-19 as a Success—by a Wide Margin.
In the eyes of the legal industry, the disruptions of 2020 have been handled incredibly well. Over 70% of all survey respondents say they were able to adapt quickly and without significant disruption. Only 8% of respondents rated their response as unsuccessful. When those results are broken down by organization type, corporate legal professionals gave their organizations the highest grades—88% classified their business’s response as a success, and absolutely none cited significant disruption or difficulties.
2. Professionals Grappled With Limited Resources and Increased Workloads for 2020—and Expect the Trend to Continue.
When cataloging the impacts COVID-19 has had on their practices, increased workloads came out on top. Indeed, this increase in work was felt most acutely by corporate legal teams. Increased workloads was also second on the list of changes likely to carry into the future, cited by 54% of law firm and corporate respondents alike. Acceleration in the adoption of technology was the only impact that outranked workloads—and may be a necessary corollary as teams seek to accomplish more work with fewer resources.
3. Legal Professionals Expect COVID-Driven Changes to Continue for the Long Term—But Change Isn’t Guaranteed
Only 11 percent of respondents expect work to return to normal shortly after a vaccine is widely available, while an astonishing 89% see changes extending for the near future (39%) or becoming permanent (50%).
However, lasting change isn’t guaranteed and law firm professionals were far more likely to predict a return to the previous status quo. Only 32% of them see COVID changes as long term, while 59% expect a slow return to pre-COVID approaches. Meanwhile, 54% of in-house professionals and 63% of vendors expect these changes to continue for the foreseeable future.