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Long after COVID – 19 becomes a mere mention in medical books and historical records we will still be influenced by its impact.
The legal industry is one that is very static and non-conforming in its traditions and cultures. It has survived through different global crises with only minor adjustments and quickly reverted back to its norm.
Mark A. Cohen, in his article, “COVID-19 And The Reformation Of Legal Culture,” says of the legal industry: “The danger is the inertia of entrenched stakeholders— law firm equity partners, general counsel, tenured law school faculty, regulators, Bar Associations, and the judicial system. Their stasis is rooted in legal culture, anachronistic structural, economic, and delivery paradigms, self-regulation, and hubris. The legal profession, until recently synonymous with the industry, has been acculturated to respect precedent, avoid making mistakes, and adapt to an insular, homogeneous, conformist, risk-averse, inward-focused culture that promotes the myth of its exceptionalism.”
He says further that, Law has responded to past crises with characteristic caution, resistance to material change, and an expectation of a return to normalcy. The stock market crash of 1987, dot.com bubble burst, and global financial did not fundamentally alter legal culture or alter its way of doing things. Those economic downturns produced short-term industry belt-synching and cosmetic change. They did not expose the industry’s systemic weaknesses or trigger rapid adoption of new operating models.
He argues that the COVID – 19 pandemic is different. It has exposed the outdated way justice is dispensed, it has also exposed the outdated way that law is taught, and also how legal services are delivered.
It has forced real changes within the legal industry in weeks what has not happened in years. It has forced the legal industry to embrace almost immediately, the use of technology or die. We are seeing law schools going online and Court sessions also taking place online. These changes are huge. Cohen says, “The Coronavirus has harnessed the potential of underutilized tools and alternative work paradigms long resisted by the legal establishment. Entrenched ways of doing things have been altered with astonishing speed, ease, and acceptance.”
It is not news that COVID – 19 is bringing about change. Not just small changes but tectonic level changes to the legal industry. Many more changes will come. And it is true that long after a cure is found the changes wrought by COVID – 19 will remain and will usher in more changes.
These changes in the midst of the crisis also come with great opportunities for those who embrace it. Cohen writes beautifully about the opportunities that are available and the changes that must be made. Yes, he does write for the American audience but the lessons apply to the Nigerian legal profession who are more static in embracing any form of change in the practice of law. Click here to read the full article from Forbes: https://bit.ly/2zltm7K.