Greg McCleery – How Has COVID Changed Technology Usage in My Law Firm
I started as a solo practitioner back in 2011 practicing in mostly oil and gas law, but I wanted more experience in criminal and family law as I continued my career. In about 2017, we figured out some breakthroughs on the search engine optimization (SEO) side of technology, and that’s when things really got going – double of what my comfortable level might be. The firm started growing quickly and we hired more attorneys on our team to make sure that we would continue to deliver our top-quality services legal services.
My firm has been using in-house SEO since 2015. We are aware that 75% of our potential clients look online first to find an attorney these days. With that in mind, we have focused on leveraging online strategies to remain competitive. We started moving towards a cloud-based model to store and share files, and still have a traditional server as well. Over the past 12 months, our firm has adapted to the increased use and advancement of technology.
Through March, April, and May, we saw a bit of a slow-down. Fortunately, business has picked back up since June and July. We’re possibly looking at a larger increase in clients since all of this began, actually.
Since COVID, we have seen more cases related to custody issues. This has happened if one parent feels that the other isn’t safe because he or she has a potentially dangerous job or is living with a health-fragile relative. This has certainly become an issue in many blended family households, and we’ve received many more cases regarding these issues.
With the stay at home and social distancing orders, we have had to take some different measures to serve our clients. We have always used phone calls for many consultations and intakes, and most of our clients are happy conversing over the phone. That is the most accessible and easy option, and we can usually obtain all the information that we need through a quick phone call. If a client wants to have a more personal face-to-face meeting, then we also offer Zoom as an alternative option.
We mostly use Zoom and other similar platforms for court appearances. I have realized that there are many judges and magistrates who want to stop video conferencing and back to familiar proceedings, so it really depends on the court. I hope that courts will realize that this is ultimately a better way to serve our community and reduce the cost of legal services.
I believe that using Zoom is a tremendous way of getting things done efficiently for the long run. It saves clients and attorneys time and money to not have to drive out of their way, especially in rural areas where they must drive to different counties or cities. A Zoom hearing could save hundreds of dollars per hearing, and that is fantastic.
COVID has definitely accelerated the move towards file sharing and transmission technology through necessity. Moving forward, I believe the clerks’ offices are likely going to be able to be progressive in utilizing this technology to make things more efficient. I have seen a lot of advancement of this in the past 5 years – and even more so during COVID.
The court systems may be slower to adapt, depending on the judge or magistrate, as some seem to favor traditional hearings. However, I believe that as we move forward, they will be more accepting of this, especially as we have more and more younger attorneys practicing law that are tech-savvy. Change takes time.