When the COVID-19 virus started sweeping across the world in early 2020, businesses across the United States had to adapt in order to survive. Law offices were one of many businesses that had to adjust their practices in order to deliver quality results while keeping their staff and clients safe and healthy.
Seth Briskin, managing partner at Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis in Woodmere; Sandra Buzney, attorney at Sandra J. Buzney Co., LPA in Shaker Heights; and Susan Rodgers, attorney at Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs in Cleveland, all had their practices undergo intense adaptations during this pandemic.
At Buzney’s firm, she said she made sure they were always able to meet with clients throughout the pandemic, whether it be in an outdoor setting or through Zoom. All documents that clients may have to sign are delivered through email or conventional mail. Because of the recent developments in vaccine distribution, Buzney said she can meet with clients in the lobby of her building as well. She added clients have been very open to these new policies.
“Clients have welcomed it for the most part, because they’re very safety conscious,” Buzney said. “And sometimes they’re not very mobile. So limiting the times that they have to get out has been very helpful to them. As long as we always have somewhere to meet ... clients have been very accommodating. They’ve been flexible, too.”
Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs has had to make similar adjustments. It had to adapt to virtual meetings, investigations, depositions, mediations, negotiations and hearings. Although Rodgers said there was an adjustment period at first, everyone was able to adapt eventually.
“Although at first it may have been challenging and uncomfortable, once you adapt to the different way of conducting business, it becomes second nature,” Rodgers said. “Additionally, some of the conveniences and benefits of conducting business virtually became evident, such as decreasing travel time and being able to work remotely.”
Because of those newfound conveniences, Briskin said he thinks virtual meetings will become a mainstay in the legal field.
“I think virtual meetings are here to stay,” he said. “The need to travel is undoubtedly going to decrease relative to pre-COVID times. Once vaccinations go up, you’ll see more travel, but not nearly to the degree that we used to do it, pre-COVID.”
Briskin said he and his firm have become very accustomed to using Zoom. He said all of their conference rooms are essentially outfitted with Zoom rooms.
“From a convenience standpoint for our clients, we’re a suburban law firm, so parking and driving to our locations is generally easier than driving downtown any way,” Briskin said. “But with Zoom meetings, they didn’t even have to do that. In terms of having meetings, it was more efficient sometimes for clients, especially on routine things. You still want to be with the client in certain circumstances, but for simple conversations or advice, Zoom works fine. The phone has always worked fine. We’ve morphed into a virtual firm in that sense.”
While it is important to these firms to keep getting good results in cases, they are also making it a top priority to keep everyone safe. Places like Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs have turned into a more virtual model.
“As many businesses have done, we have found ways to minimize close, in-person contact through the use of technology, masks and social distancing to continue to work together to service our clients,” Rodgers said. “When in-person contact with a client is necessary, we make sure that it is done as safely as possible. We have been able to pivot from normal operations to a more virtual model when it comes to meetings and events, keeping pace with the demands of a busy law firm.”