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  • Writer's pictureCooper Shattuck

Survey Results: Impact of COVID on Legal Profession

What impact has COVID had on your practice? What about everyone else’s? Lawyers are rarely honest with each other (and even themselves) on how they are doing. We routinely ask each other how we are doing, are we staying busy, what have we been doing, and we habitually answer that we are doing great and staying busy when that isn’t always the truth. Maybe we are trying to convince the inquisitor or maybe we are trying to convince ourselves. But when we aren’t doing well, or as well as we’d like to be, it’s good to know when we aren’t alone. And we are rarely the only one in that condition. Believing that we are the only one suffering simply leads to further suffering, including depression, which makes matters worse.

Are we honest in anonymous surveys? One can only hope. And so we all have a better understanding of COVID’s impact on ourselves and each other, we have solicited responses to a brief and unscientific survey from some Alabama lawyers to see where we are. Here is a summary of what we found.[i]

  • 50% of responding attorneys reported working remotely at least 1-2 days per week on average (over 25% work an average of at least 3-4 days per week remotely). About 50% reported that they rarely or never work remotely.

  • 65% work remotely more now than they did before COVID.

  • Over 74% have the same number of full-time employees as they had before COVID, and over 70% do not anticipate the number of full-time or part-time staff changing in the next year.

  • Interestingly, respondents were fairly evenly split as to whether their workload had increased, stayed the same, or decreased.

  • A little over 33% reported that their gross fee income has decreased since COVID, while over 48% reported that it stayed the same and 17% that it increased.

  • Over 56% reported receiving a PPP loan.

  • Over 65% reported that the makeup of their practice has changed.

  • The responses were fairly equally split between those whose outlook on their practice has changed and those whose hasn’t

  • 65% reported that they plant to retire or stop practicing law at some point.

  • As to marketing, over 60% indicated that their marketing efforts (61.45%) and money spent on marketing (67.06%) has stayed the same since COVID, and over 50% believe the amount they spend on marketing (58%) and their marketing efforts (53%) will stay the same.

Some interesting responses unrelated to COVID included:

  • Over 88% reported that they sometimes or always share their cell phone numbers with clients.

  • Over 80% reported that they sometimes communicate with clients via text.

  • Yet almost 64% report sometimes communicating with clients via written “snail” mail.

  • Almost 50% have updated their website in the last year, but over 23% haven’t in more than 3 years.

  • Almost 80% are engaged in social media personally, professionally or both.

So what does all this mean?

We're not entirely sure and apparently, neither were our respondents. But it seems that we are spending more time away from the office, yet the workload and fee income for most has stayed the same or increased. And most see little change in their marketing efforts and staffing.

What do you think?

[i] The survey results can be found here.

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