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Remote work and legal firm challenges in a changing world

A group of coworkers sit in a conference room and speak with remote colleagues who appear via Zoom on a large screen

From the COVID-19 pandemic to the invasion of Ukraine, world events are driving dramatic change for industries and organizations around the world. During the webinar “The Changing Paradigm in Professional Services: Where We Will Be Tomorrow?”, panelists discussed remote work, legal firm challenges surrounding the Ukraine crisis, and emerging technology that can help firms address changes within the professional services industries.

Responding to the war in Ukraine

When Russian troops first invaded Ukraine, not all firms anticipated just how much the ensuing war could and would affect their businesses.

“So many of us [had] suppliers or supply chain issues … in Russia or in Ukraine, and we [didn’t] even realize it,” said Deborah Farone, founder of Farone Advisors.

Many legal firms closed their offices in Russia, or restricted activity and transactions in and with the country. Firms also began making significant changes in practice areas, including sanctions, contracts, and immigration.

In addition to cutting ties with Russia, many businesses also began providing direct support to the people of Ukraine. Intapp, for example, started providing proactive relocation assistance to the members of our Kyiv team and their families in early January, and continues to do so.

Creating a supportive work culture

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous legal firms transitioned to remote environments. Because teams could no longer meet in person, it became difficult to onboard and train new members — and in some cases, difficult to retain them as well.

Webinar host Lavinia Calvert, General Manager of Marketing and Business Development Solutions at Intapp, emphasized the importance of creating a supportive environment by allowing professionals to work in the ways they find most comfortable, and to view them as individuals with unique strengths. Farone also added that leaders must be intentional when training new hires, and that they may need to reach out to them more often and provide extra support to compensate for the lack of in-person guidance.

Leaders must also be on the lookout for burnout on their teams. Pointing out that productivity has gone up since the pandemic, David Perla, Co-Chief Operating Officer at Burford Capital, noted that “people are working more [at home], and [they] feel pressure to work more.” By creating a supportive work environment and promoting a balanced work/life schedule, firms are more likely to retain their professionals and benefit from their skills and expertise.

Leveraging technology to enhance client relationships

As the legal industry and client expectations continue to evolve, firm leaders are exploring how technology solutions can help their firms remain competitive.

“Law itself remains a relationship business,” said Jamie Diaferia, CEO of Infinite Global. “[So] how do we … evolve and develop relationships with technology as the accelerator?”

Connected firm technology like Intapp helps firms communicate better with one another, letting professionals share files, data, and key information within a single, secure platform. Intapp also helps professionals collaborate easily with internal teams, third parties, and clients, as well as leverage insights around client relationships to improve client satisfaction and identify business opportunities.