Grant Walsh, Dallas based co-founder and managing partner of Culhane Meadows, was recently interviewed by Law.com for an article on how COVID-19 is changing the way law firms operate. Within the article, Grant discusses the current and future benefits a cloud-based law firm model, such as Culhane Meadows, offers as more firms turn to a virtual practice in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are some excerpts from Grant’s interview:
In just a few weeks, a legal industry that seemed cautiously optimistic about the year ahead changed its tone drastically, as law firm leaders quickly shifted focus to the new coronavirus—first complying with measures meant to limit its spread and then preparing for any number of potential economic outcomes.
While those evaluations and decisions haven’t been easy, industry watchers say they may lead to some constructive long-term changes.
Kleinbard [a Philadelphia-based firm], and most other U.S. law firms, are going through a forced experiment with remote work that is making them rethink how they typically do business. That may seem to have only negative outcomes—including furloughs and layoffs of employees whose work is only relevant in the traditional brick-and-mortar office. But it may also simply accelerate some changes that the industry was already calling for.
“I do think firms and attorneys are getting more comfortable with the working from home aspect of it,” recruiter Jason Mandel, of Alevistar Legal Group, said in an email. “I view it in two ways—yes, you can certainly work from home very effectively in these times, but will the desire to interact with people on a day-to-day basis top that?”
Grant Walsh, the Dallas-based founder and managing partner of Culhane Meadows, where all the lawyers and staff work remotely, said the current situation has pushed the most traditional law firms to try a model they have long eschewed. And they may be surprised by the results.
“You’re going to see an entire new acceptance of this approach. It’s going to legitimize what we’ve been saying for seven years” since Culhane Meadows was founded, Walsh said. “Lawyers who previously thought they couldn’t function from a home office will suddenly feel different about it.”
Even those firms that place a heavy emphasis on face time will learn that they can get a lot of those meaningful interactions in a virtual setting. Walsh said his firm has long depended on occasional in-person meetings and socials, but also on more regular virtual meetings and gatherings via video conferencing. For instance, this week the tax practice hosted a watch-and-learn program, in which participants streamed the movie “The Laundromat” on Netflix, and tax lawyers answered questions about the legal issues that arise in the movie.
Walsh said he also hopes more traditional law firms will notice that offering remote work flexibility may come with some gains for gender equity. Some firms limit the partnership opportunities for lawyers who want to work a flexible schedule or partially remote, he noted. But now that they’re forced to work remotely, those firms may realize that offering flexibility to those lawyers—often parents, and more often mothers—does not have to come with a career trade-off.
He’s hopeful they will now see, “She was just as productive remotely when she was homeschooling her kids … so maybe we weren’t quite fair to think she couldn’t make partner at our firm.”
The complete article can be found here.
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