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Technology and Alternative Work Arrangements

Case Studies

 

Technology and Alternative Work Arrangements

Technology is continually changing the way we do business. Today we see many examples of law firms using technology to enable flexible work arrangements, to the benefit of law firms, individual lawyers and clients. In this article we will consider two law firms who are using technology as the foundation for flexible work. One firm has done this taking small steps within a traditional law firm setting, and the other is entirely virtual.

Case Study 1: Traditional practice, with flexible options

One traditional firm that has taken steps toward flexible work arrangements using technology is Lawson Lundell LLP. Driven by a desire to retain talent, continue the growth of partners and maintain an inclusive law firm, Lawson Lundell has implemented a range of alternative working arrangements, facilitated by technology.

There are lawyers working almost entirely remotely on both temporary and permanent bases and lawyers, including partners, who work reduced hours and/or who work from home a percentage of the time.

A combination of Citrix products (these products enable secure remote access to business applications and full virtual desktops to any device) and more traditional technologies (i.e. mobile devices and conference call facilities) are used to allow remote work. The firm has found these technologies allow them to offer alternative working arrangements while maintaining a high level of service and availability for their clients.

Case Study 2: Virtual law firm

Calgary-based Simplex Legal, founded by Martine Boucher, a self-professed “tech geek,” has harnessed technology to operate an entirely virtual law firm. The firm offers outsourced in-house counsel in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Its team of lawyers take retainers varying in scope from project support to temporary full-time placements in client organizations. Lawyers work either from home or on-site at a client’s business and everything needed to run the law firm is web-based. Lawyers work a wide variety of work schedules from months of full-time work mixed with months of non-working time, to reduced hour weeks.

When asked about the tech tools she would recommend to facilitate remote work, Boucher gave us a top three:

  • Zoom is an easy-to-use video conferencing app. Simplex uses it to hold team meetings and has seen increased participation and engagement since switching from a traditional call to video.
  • RingCentral is a voice over IP system that allows phone extensions to ring wherever Simplex lawyers are working.
  • Trello is a flexible and easy-to-use platform that Simplex uses as their online Employee Booklet and on-boarding process. All information is searchable, and anyone can add feedback or update.

These two law firms are examples of how, through the use of technology, the practice of law and the delivery of legal services can be provided from a wide variety of locations and schedules. Retention, inclusion and diversity are key goals that can be achieved by enabling alternative work arrangements, both by taking small steps within a traditional law firm setting and by going entirely virtual.

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