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The post pandemic law office may require emotional intelligence

Technology for Lawyers

Published: July 31, 2020

Well, the new normal is coming into focus, and it is not going to be anything like the old normal for the law office. The future of the law office has gone from being somewhere out there to a tsunami crashing in on the business of law.
Adjusting to the future is now adjusting to the present. If we had dealt with the pandemic with the requisite alacrity, maybe the past could have been saved. But with this dumpster fire approach, the future is now here. And it is permanent.
The new model is an online model that changes not only the way that lawyers deal with other lawyers, colleagues, document sharing, and courts, but also in the way in which lawyers deal with clients.
One thing that the pandemic has revealed about a lot of people is their level of emotional intelligence. Most people are fairly empathetic in my experience, especially in times like this (even though the sociopaths are still running around). But now, when people ask how you’re doing, they generally mean it. And “stay safe” is a modern appellation.
Part of the lawyer-client relationship is, of course, connecting personally with the client. Now you can’t really do that. But yet clients are now going to choose one lawyer over another based more on responsiveness and flexibility than on skill alone. They will try to create the kind of personal contact that is missing in the remote world. The ;lawyer who has some emotional intelligence that translates into the online world will have a better chance of meeting these new client needs.
This has to create a sense of actually transcending the technology, rather than just using the technology to try to recreate the old way of doing things.
Here is where some emotional intelligence has to come in. Firms should create feedback loops with clients to constantly check in with them to see how they are doing. And when they ask how you are doing, respond honestly. Everyone’s going through weird times, and the failure to acknowledge that makes you look like a liar. Maybe in the old days that was OK, but clients will want more than just skill from their lawyers. They will want a truly empathetic ear. And keeping in close, albeit remote, touch with them will give a lawyer a step up.