Just How Interconnected We Are.

Author:Stewart, John M.
 
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As we sail across the seas of change, the unexpected can occur. The waters are not always calm. The winds aren't always favorable. Our course may be disrupted by unexpected challenges that cannot be overcome by the captain of the ship alone. We must work together and keep traveling into the future.

We have recently experienced a global health crisis that caused the population of various nations--including our own--to make unprecedented changes in the way we live and work. Never before have so many organizations, including law firms, been forced to rely upon technology in order to maintain regular operations in response to crisis. The capability for practitioners and staff to work remotely from home has never been more important. Carrying on the profession of law away from the office and avoiding faceto-face contact in order to stem the transmission of COVID-19 has never been more critical. The rapid spread of the virus demonstrates just how interconnected we are--not only as a state or as a nation--but globally. These kinds of events are reminders of how susceptible our economic and legal systems are to interruptions beyond our control. While we don't know what the future holds (this column went to press April 3), every difficult situation can also present an opportunity.

The coronavirus pandemic provides a perfect example of why the legal system in general (lawyers, clerks, and courts) must catch up to modern times, so that the system can continue to serve people in trying times. We must ensure we can work remotely, virtually, and telecommute. Maintaining a functional society in the current environment requires greater capability and efficient use of technology than prior to the pandemic. The crisis--which has no national boundaries--is a wake-up call, confirming that our profession and clients cannot afford to slowly adapt to technology. We must accelerate our integration of necessary technologies in order to work effectively from home, have staff work remotely, be able to meet clients virtually, by telephone, by video conference, and to among other things be able to conduct depositions or conduct closings remotely. It's a matter of bringing existing technology into the workplace. Simply put, justice cannot grind to a halt because the profession has failed to integrate necessary technologies that enable our citizens' and our clients' legal needs to be met.

While technology is not a magic pill and cannot solve all our problems, remote work...

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