Reliable legal resources key for facing an uncertain future

12 Oct 2020 4:00 pm

Reliable legal resources key for facing an uncertain future

COVID-19 has resulted in the need for many businesses to not only work remotely but to reduce overheads to survive the financial impact of the pandemic. Law firms have been required to become leaner, reducing rates and office footprint and, in many cases, retrenching or downsizing personnel.

Irrespective of their specific area of specialisation or expertise, legal professionals are becoming obliged to provide legal advice on a disparate range of matters to secure or retain clientele. “The reality is that right now many legal professionals are not sure where their next pay cheque will be coming from,” said Mellony Ramalho, Sales and Marketing Director at LexisNexis South Africa. “Today they could be assisting with the labour law aspects of retrenchments, and tomorrow be drafting commercial contracts or negotiating the release from rental agreements.”

Technology has evolved at a rapid rate and the challenge that legal professionals and law firms of all sizes face is that of balancing the need for relevant legal resources, sifting through vast volumes of data for reliable resources while avoiding information overload and costly, non-billable research hours. Access to comprehensive, up-to-date legal resources and effective research solutions is key for accurate interpretation of the Law, including the regulatory and policy amendments, and helping clients negotiate issues faced on the labour, leasing, contractual and other fronts.

“Many firms are moving away from having access to large law libraries, librarians, assistants and candidate attorneys on hand to conduct the necessary research required,” Ramalho says. ‘As a result, fast, trustworthy and time efficient solutions are required for practice areas such as research, to not only survive but to thrive in the future. These solutions need to provide access to authoritative works, primary sources, precedents and relevant case law – especially in areas where the practitioner does not have vast personal experience to rely on.”

Legal resources need to increase work efficiencies and billable hours and offer current and up-to-date content and resources in all practice areas. Practical guidance, templates and workflow solutions that enable professional to approach matters in a systematic manner, are vital replacements to unstructured data expenditure on research.

Prior to the pandemic the legal industry already saw a trend towards downscaling and outsourcing, and these trends are set to persist in the current economic climate. Legal professionals would be wise to change the way they do business, embrace next-gen solutions, and diversify their skill sets to succeed.

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