Shortly after Jacqueline Schafer entered the courtroom for the final hearing in an asylum case that she was litigating several years ago, she sensed that the judge was not sympathetic to the claims of her Honduran clients.
When Joyce Tong Oelrich and her former Microsoft Corp. colleague Zohra Tejani discussed starting their own law firm two years ago, the experienced in-house lawyers agreed that they should take a subscription-pricing approach with clients.
When the spread of the novel coronavirus last spring prompted traditional law firms across the country to shutter their physical offices amid much economic uncertainty, the management team at cloud-based law firm FisherBroyles had very different concerns on its radar. The team wanted to make sure that the firm was ready to quickly ramp up hiring.
With the shift to virtual recruitment amid the COVID-19 crisis, the speed at which law firms vet and hire lateral partners has increased, according to Michael Ellenhorn, the founder and CEO of Decipher. But Ellenhorn, whose company helps legal industry clients evaluate potential hires, says law firms would be wise not to quicken the hiring process too much.
As states such as Utah and Arizona have approved opening up their legal marketplaces to alternative business structures in recent months, there has been speculation that the Big Four accounting firms would be among those seeking to take advantage.
Just before students at the University of California at Irvine School of Law were set to return from spring break in March, the university decided that all classes would be moved online because of the spread of COVID-19.
Exhibits were screen-shared with witnesses. Lawyers conducted cross-examinations from their offices while the judge watched from his home. And one afternoon, the proceedings ended early when a witness lost their internet connection.
Supporters of broad reforms to how the legal profession is regulated must do a better job drawing the public into ongoing conversations in several states about such issues, says Paula Littlewood, the former longtime executive director of the Washington State Bar Association.