Law firms see remote working as a catalyst for change in a post-pandemic era

June 10, 2020

Sandpiper Partners and Williams Lea’s instant survey sheds light on law firms’ growing acceptance of agile, more flexible working arrangements in light of the COVID-19 crisis and their willingness to virtualize and outsource more support functions.

NEW YORK, NY, June 10, 2020 – Williams Lea, a leading global provider of business-critical support services to financial, legal and professional services firms, and Sandpiper Partners, LLC, a recognized education and business consulting firm, announced today the publication of the results of the Instant Survey, The Impact of the COVID-19 Crisis on Law Firm Support Operations.

The survey, sent to leaders at large US and UK firms, offers valuable insight into the measures law firms are implementing to address the urgent needs of the COVID-19 crisis and their plans to mitigate the impact on profits and post-pandemic operations.

Clare Hart, Global CEO for Williams Lea said, “We commissioned this survey to get a real-time view into the immediate actions law firms have undertaken to control costs and manage their day-to-day activities. We also asked for firm leaders’ view on how the crisis will shape the future of law firm operations.”

According to Lynn Glasser, President of Sandpiper Partners, “The results show that law firms are preparing for the biggest changes in practice since abandoning the yellow pad for the digital age.

Glasser continued, “With 43% of respondents citing that the COVID-19 pandemic will forever alter the way law is practiced, and 57% of firms citing they will change their remote working policies by the end of this year, we are seeing seismic changes in behaviors core to law firm operations.”

Known for long office hours and face-to-face interactions, law firms quickly shifted to remote work in response to shelter-in-place mandates. More than half of the respondents cited that 100% of their fee earners were working remotely since the lockdown, while 74% reported that more than three quarters of their support staff were working from home.

The shift to remote working was just the beginning of a string of responses to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The concern over lasting economic fallout is driving law firm leaders toward tough staff reduction and cost-cutting decisions to sustain business operations. More than 52% of firms cite a range of staff reductions including furloughs, salary reductions and layoffs. Additional cost control measures such as travel reductions, foregoing capital investments and office moves as well as a hiring freeze for laterals and new associates are being considered as well.

Outsourcing is another measure expected to figure more prominently in law firm plans and workforce strategies to better manage costs and build more resilient business operations. More than half of respondents (60%) reported that they are planning to outsource some functions in the next six months.

Added Hart, “The transition from the traditional setting to a “virtual office” is expected to be a central part of firms’ workforce strategies moving forward. Outsourced support services and the operational efficiencies a skilled partner such as Williams Lea delivers, help meet the concurrent demands of virtualization and cost reduction.”

Download the full report to get more insights.

About Sandpiper Partners, LLC

Sandpiper Partners of Clifton, N.J. is dedicated to helping law firms, companies and non-profits achieve greater success in their endeavors including expanding existing activities and entering new lines of business. For 15 years Sandpiper has led the way in innovative business management solutions and education in the postgraduate legal field including running as many as 50 events a year for clients on various aspects of the business of law and substantive law topics. Its clients are located throughout the United States and Europe, and it has completed projects in more than a dozen U.S. cities, London, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Milan.

About Williams Lea

Williams Lea is the global provider of skilled business-critical support services to financial, legal and professional services firms. We connect people, processes and technology to manage documents and streamline key operational functions. From our humble beginnings as a financial printer in London, to our position today as a global outsourcing leader, our business is built on a strong heritage, great relationships and a talented team. Our 5,700 worldwide employees work onsite at clients and onshore/offshore at Williams Lea operations providing unrivalled support and helping clients transform their support operations.

With revenues of over €400 million, Williams Lea is backed by Advent International, one of the largest global private equity investors.