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Coronavirus: Lawyers will lose their jobs if the government doesn’t step in

Lawyers Will Lose Their Jobs Because Of Virus

Lawyers will lose their jobs because of this virus. While politicians in some countries seem to be using the virus as a way to advance their political ideologies, many industries are being squeezed to their breaking point. Lawyers are one of those industries.

The government needs to step up and help businesses stay afloat. Law firms will fail, and lawyers will get laid off if the government or law society doesn’t arrange for loans many law firms. Law firms that spend $100,000/month on rent cannot afford a lockdown in Canada. Rent makes up most of the costs of running a business. Some companies only have a few months of rent saved in the bank.

Lawyers will lose their jobs

During the best of times, many people avoid dealing with their legal issues. People put off going into a lawyer’s office without the now added risk of catching a deadly disease.

Read more: Virus Shutting Down Businesses In Ontario

A New Threat To The Legal Industry

Paralegals, technology, and artificial intelligence have been threatening traditional lawyers for years. But of all things, a virus from which broke out first in China might be the threat that wipes out many Canadian lawyer jobs.

If the government or Law Society doesn’t step in and arrange for interest-free loans for law firms, many will likely go under around June 2020. Cutting mortgage interest rates won’t help businesses that didn’t borrow money. They still need to pay their payroll and rent.

The CEO of Clio, Jack Newton, wrote on Twitter “Stimulus packages for #COVID19 relief need to be focused on giving small businesses 2+ months of rent relief.”

Lawyers Using Technology | Lawyers Will Lose Their Jobs

Given my many years of experience in the family law industry, which is 100% based online, most lawyers are not open to working online. If they are open to the idea of it, they struggle to use the technology.

Many lawyers struggle with using technology. Just the other day, we shared a Dropbox link with the opposing party during discovery and they couldn’t figure out how to open it. This is a technology that has been around for a long time.

I don’t think for a second that lawyers will quickly be able to figure out how to do video conferencing with clients and put all their files in the cloud. Also, if clients are not willing or don’t want to come into the lawyer’s office, lawyers’ revenue will go out the window.

Lawyers Jobs At Risk

Law firms of all sizes are already starting to feel the pain. Dentons, one of the largest law firm’s in the world with over 10,000 lawyers, posted the following statement on the front page of their website:

“Dentons represents clients in 75 countries, including virtually every location where COVID-19 has already had a serious impact.  While our principal concern is with the humanitarian nature of the pandemic, we have focused the extraordinary depth and breadth of our global resources to ensure we remain available to serve our clients during this challenging time despite travel restrictions, government orders, and other challenges that impact traditional ways of doing business.”

Despite what the general public thinks, most law firms are not sitting on a pile of cash. Lawyers need new clients coming in the door to avoid rent, staff payroll, and for their subscription fees.

Not All Lawyers Will Be Hurt By The Virus

There are three areas of law that will likely do well during the pandemic. These include bankruptcy lawyers, family lawyers, and civil litigation lawyers.

With the number of businesses that are likely to go under, bankruptcy lawyers will be busy for the next few years sorting out the bankruptcy filings. Further, many of these bankruptcies will be with massive companies with assets around the globe. I can imagine a number of airlines will go under.

Family lawyers will be busy after spouses are forced to spend 24/7 with each other at home. Reports from Chinese media are showing that divorce rates have skyrocketed in China after the quarantine.

Civil litigation lawyers will be busy filing claims for breach of contract. Or they will be on the defense side, claiming force majeure as a defense against the claim. Whoever is found to be liable for the spread of the virus will likely be sued into the ground.

In conclusion, law firm managers need to take the spread of the virus seriously. They need to speak to their accountant and figure out how long they can survive on the cash they have in the bank. They need to figure out how to use cloud technology and video conferencing. Law firms that can survive will enjoy a less competitive environment once the virus pandemic is over. Lawyers will lose their jobs soon and someone needs to step in and do something.

Alistair Vigier is the CEO of Clearway Law. It is a law firm that is transferring to an online marketplace for legal services in Canada.

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