January/February 2021

Editor's Note

Surviving and Thriving With Remote Technologies

Lance G. Johnson

As the newest editor-in-chief for this magazine, I am honored by the trust and faith that the Division has placed in me and the editorial board. Our editorial board is made up of some of the smartest, most effective folks I have ever met. Individually and cumulatively, the board has decades of experience addressing and resolving a wide variety of management issues. To that end, I would like to try something new and encourage our readers to contact me with your vexing questions and issues by email to Lance@LGJLegal.com. We will go through your questions and pick the most compelling to address in a future issue. Your letters will help us know more about the issues you face, and maybe we can give you some insights on possible solutions based on the experience of our team.

Last year, lawyers faced the mandate to become competent with technology as a matter of ethical practice. That same mandate is a matter of survival. I think it is fair to say that the efficiencies and cost pressures do not favor those who still dictate documents to be transcribed, sent back to be revised, and then sent to the assistant for entering the revisions and mailing or filing the document. As I see it, our goal in Law Practice magazine is to provide practical information on technologies and management issues that make lawyers and law firms both efficient and profitable.

My tenure starts as we begin to think that we kind of understand how the COVID-19 virus is spread but before we have a proven vaccine. Every lawyer, law firm, court and client in the country is affected by this virus. We are learning to adapt. Remote work and the smart use of technology are key parts of an ability to continue doing business. By necessity, courts have had to embrace hearings by telephone and videoconference. We are likely going to operate under distanced conditions until well into 2021.

While it may seem a burden now, the changes forced on us by a public health crisis may be a hidden opportunity to revisit and rethink the management and operation of our practices and teams. It may well be that some of the changes made now will prove to be profitable and advantageous. For example, the need for one office per attorney may well give way to a shared arrangement in which multiple attorneys share an office space when they need to be in the office. The reduced office overhead could be very good for firm profit numbers that could translate into new compensation arrangements.

This issue continues to look at distanced working issues. Our lead article, “In the Office, Out of the Office: Remote Challenges Outside, Safety Inside” by Mary E. Vandenack, is a panel article on survival techniques for getting through this pandemic. Our supporting articles address the human side of managing remote professionals. The first looks at the twin tools of empathy and technology in “Changing Tech and Managing Change: Pandemic Agility and Empathy” by John D. Bowers. The second is a detailed look at one of the newer tools for remote, collaborative work in “Practicing Law From a Safe Distance Using Microsoft Teams” by Ben M. Schorr. The third supporting article explores the security issues that are raised by remote employees and external access into your network in “How Going Remote Changes (and Increases) Your Security Issues” by Ivan Hemmans. Remote work also raises ethical issues that are explored in “Ethics in the Time of COVID” by Roberta Tepper, while Gyi Tsakalakis looks at how to create and support remote business relationships in “Business Development at a Distance.”

Lance G. Johnson

Owner

Lance G. Johnson is the owner of Johnson Legal PLLC in Fairfax, Virginia, and is currently the editor-in-chief of Law Practice magazine. lance@lgjlegal.com

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