Brian Sweeney, Managing Director of Keyhouse gives his thoughts on the 5 phases of recovery from Covid-19.
A recent article by Daniel and Richard Susskind, Five Phases of Recovery from Covid-19, outlined the 5 phases of recovery from Covid-19, Mobilisation → Lock-down ↔ Emergence → Surge → Equilibrium.
The first phase “Mobilisation” is focusing on near-term survival where many firms had to “gear up” to work remotely and Susskind’s observations were correct in that few were fully prepared, and the finest firms are caring for their people as well as helping clients. This an observation that I would agree with as many firms have never had to plan or even contemplated that such a scenario would appear so quickly. The idea of investing for such an event is alien to many partners.
The second phase “Lock-down” highlighted that the wise firms used this opportunity to re-tool professionals to prepare for work in the 2020s’. These firms will also try to provide online support for staff who suffer mental health difficulties arising from solitude, disconnection, and overcrowding. The key to achieving this is dependent on the culture within the firms. How many partners have the vision or capacity to encourage and lead their professionals in adapting to this new environment? How many would be aware of the time and financial investment in coaching and training people to change their old ways of working because up till recently many firms were profitable, so why would they need to change their way of working? While it does make perfect sense to utilise the lock-down phase to re-educate and re-tool professionals, will firms embrace this time to change how they work? History has shown that change is slow within the profession.
As the “Emergence” phase comes on track which as Susskind highlights is the hardest to predict, some clients will emerge, and business operations will need to be “ramped up” to cater for this. However, the question remains will firms revert back to the pre Covid-19 way of working or will those firms that have embraced new ways of working start to shine a light on the way forward for the profession?
The “Surge” phase will undoubtedly come at some point in the future and the challenge here is will firms look at managing the surge business as they did before Covid-19 to deliver time sensitive legal services. There will be enough of a supply of professionals to employ additional resources which historically has been the case when there is a large increase in demand for the delivery of legal services as opposed to optimising business process and technology. in the appropriate and smart use of technology will be how to deliver quality services by more cost effective and efficient means.
In essence Susskind has painted an accurate picture of what could happen to the legal services profession but from our experience the key tool for adapting to digital alternatives lies with “Cultural Change” as opposed to highlighting the idea of digital alternatives. There is no doubt that the profession needs to change if it wants to remain relevant to an ever-increasing digital marketplace and Susskind’s contribution here is a timely reminder of what lies ahead.