Covid-19 work-at-home protocols are driving law firms and corporate counsel to rethink the notion that legal work must be conducted within the confines of their offices or a review center.
Keeping employees and contractors healthy and safe must be the top concern. However, the secondary challenge—putting systems into place to get the work done while protecting information and ensuring consistently high quality—can be daunting if you’re only set up for a more traditional workflow.
Alternative legal service providers (ALSPs) are providing much needed support. While you may have used an ALSP for temporary staffing in times when you needed more hands on deck or for a particular area of expertise, you may not have realized the breadth of support these firms can provide.
With a variety of remote protocols already in place, ALSPs have perfected the art of conducting business without face-to-face interaction. In addition, these firms are knowledgeable about applying technology to secure information and systems, nimble in getting things underway at a moment’s notice and creative in tailoring solutions to the unique needs of each client.
As we all band together—law firms, corporate legal departments, and ALSPs—to put essential processes and safeguards into place, a new legal environment may emerge: an environment where decision-makers can pull their A-teams together unconstrained by geographic boundaries, and where career fulfillment can soar among employees and contract lawyers alike as they are afforded flexibility and increasing opportunities to work remotely.
How ALSPs Can Help You Right Now
It’s nice to think that a positive industry advance could come from this historically negative Black Swan event, but of course, you also need answers today.
Here are ways you can tap ALSPs to help you through the rigors of keeping your firm or department running at full speed while the Covid-19 crisis plays out.
1. Addressing Security Concerns
One of the big issues we’re seeing among corporate legal departments and legal firms is their concern for the security of their information, which can be incredibly market sensitive. Moving your work out of your established offices and out of your ALSP’s review center to remote locations can be an unnerving concept. But rest assured your ALSP can probably help.
While I can’t speak on behalf of every ALSP, I can tell you that our company began putting additional security processes and protections into place as soon as we learned our clients might be needing a higher level of remote support. The work being done by staff members we’ve placed is protected in a number of ways, and we are helping clients navigate the technology challenges they are encountering as they move their own people off-site.
For example, one client wasn’t comfortable with staff lawyers’ using their own computers to log in remotely. So our team brought them online overnight using our fully owned and managed laptops, with a secured cloud firewall and content filter on the endpoint, and a conditionally available managed virtual desktop to ensure our clients’ information stays safe and secure—never leaving the data center.
Your ALSP should be understanding of and responsive to your security concerns during this sensitive time. Ask them what they’re doing to safeguard remote operations and how they can help you do the same. Not all clients need the same solution, so having the flexibility to deploy what’s needed, when you need it, is key.
2. Keeping Projects and Workflows on Track
Another concern of legal entities is how to get the work done with everyone working remotely—how to ensure all of the moving parts are moving in unison toward common goals, especially while your team is getting up to speed with the equipment, systems and security measures in their new environments.
For example, are you going to let your discovery activities slow down? Although deadlines may have been extended, you probably don’t want to wait until the last minute to get your work done.
Again, ALSPs have solutions. We help clients keep their projects on track by maintaining regular office hours, conducting daily monitoring and reporting, and keeping tabs on budget requirements to ensure resource teams are right-sized. And because we have always integrated technology to facilitate our project teams’ collaboration, recruit the best talent and carry out any of a number of project-related activities, we are as comfortable and confident as ever supporting your needs for additional help.
3. Tailoring Solutions to Your Unique Needs
At times like this, as well as in the natural course of business, ALSPs can offer made-to-order, flexible solutions. Being nimble is in our nature. We recognize that your staffing and technology needs are unique, so we take into account everything from your goals and time frames to your risk appetite and concerns. Our goal as staffing agencies continues to be bringing talented contract staff together with law firms and legal departments who need support.
This point in time is unprecedented, it’s true. But ALSPs are doing all of the things you’ve entrusted us with in the past—ensuring a strong pipeline of talent, keeping your projects on track, and developing innovative solutions to your challenges.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. or its owners.
Leslie A. Firtell is the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Tower Legal Solutions. She’s a 22-year veteran and pioneer of the legal staffing industry and an attorney. She introduced the benefits of legal staffing to law firms and corporations before it was a common practice.