No event, arguably, in the history of humankind has exercised as enormous an impact on daily life as the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire social relationships have been upended, government priorities have shifted permanently, and businesses have been forced to either adapt to the new environment or disappear forever.
Law, like other sectors of the economy and society, has been irrevocably changed by the pandemic. Here is a rundown of COVID-19’s long-lasting impact on law.
The Slowdown of the Legal Industry
Most lawyers operating firms around the world have reported a significant slowdown of incoming business. Fewer clients are walking through law firms’ doors or making inquiries through email. Overall, demand for legal services has fallen as business worldwide has come to a grinding halt.
Growth in Some Sectors Related to COVID-19
While the caseloads for law firms have diminished in general, the areas of law with a specific focus related to COVID-19 have seen a predictable uptick in their business.
Some of their more common forms of COVID-related litigation will come in the form of contract disputes, charges regarding fiduciary responsibility to shareholders or other interested parties, and issues between debtors and collectors.
In a disturbing trend, domestic violence rates have skyrocketed as families content with the financial hardships imposed by the lockdowns and the social distancing rules that have forced families to stay in tight-knit quarters in the home.
In short, the COVID-19 response laid the groundwork for an explosion in domestic violence, which has manifested in the numbers. Accordingly, the need for legal representation in both civil and criminal proceedings related to domestic abuse has increased dramatically.
Civil Liberties and Tracking Technology
The public health measures generated in response to the COVID-19 outbreak have shaken the relationship between civil liberties and technology to its core.
One of the biggest reverberating effects of COVID-19 will be the long-lasting impacts on civil liberties, especially as it relates to privacy. Tracking technologies – long-proposed but never implemented due to fear of pushback from the public and groups like the ACLU – are now on the precipice of becoming instantiated into law.Legal challenges for years to come will certainly result.
Although exactly how COVID-19 will affect the legal system remains uncertain, but what is certain is that practicing law will never be the same for the attorneys and other professionals who have made a career of it.