John F. Kennedy once stated: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word crisis. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger—but recognize the opportunity.”
The worst of situation that the world and our country is facing due to the uncontrollable and most rapid spread of this deadly virus is not only unprecedented in contemporary times but also majorly damaging on all the fronts. Not knowing how the world would look in the aftermath of COVID-19 many things would undergo a drastic transformation including our eating habits, hygiene and our lifestyle. A million-dollar question which arises is how to embrace these changes. It is an undisputed fact that these sudden changes in the present times bring their diversified challenges which seem to be multi-faceted and far-reaching. It would not be sufficient if we only envisage the financial turmoil and economies collapsing, as it is not the first time that the world has contended with such financial exigency with a focused goal to emerge from such financial crisis. But, this time, things are entirely different. Countries across the globe are revisiting their policies, monetary and political, leading to globalization. In the post- COVID-19 future, one thing to be expected on priority is more stringent policies to take the front seat.
In the legal stage of our country, things are ready to take a paradigm shift. The personals of the corporate community would prefer to avoid going into litigation at all costs; however, that certainly does not mean that litigation would come to a grinding halt as litigation since always has been a by-product of trust deficit. Being concerned about the current times and its much unpredictable consequences, the need of an hour is that the litigants must show some confidence in the junior counsels. The latter prepares the case right from the beginning on behalf of their clients. They must gain their trust in such counsels that if they could prepare the case meticulously and thoroughly, that particular counsel would be able to argue such a case before the court of law with much more effective dedication and vigour.
In all, it is of substance to understand that litigation post- COVID-19 is not going to be the same, as it was before.
The lawyers practising at the district court level are to be considered much safer than the big law firms and senior counsels as they have an entirely different clientele to deal. Thus, the litigants of even the sessions court are not bound to suffer but, those big law firms would undoubtedly suffer the consequences due to the mounting in the costs and lesser revenue which would result in the laying off associates working with them. Since past, a decade the Indian law firm fraternity has shown an exceptional dynamism as India has been an active participant in the International legal conferences held worldwide on various concerning matters. Assuming everyone to survive and by showing the affirmative attitude, the fraternity is sure to take an intense hit.
If we see the requisites for the law firms, they must equip themselves adequately to embrace the tough times and face the adverse conditions hands on. It is to state that great clients make great lawyers, and in this existing environment, great lawyers have to serve the clients who have made them great. Now is the right time to encourage the junior counsels and to let them reach out to the clients directly to satisfy their immediate needs and be able to do the best for their concerned clients even without the presence of senior counsels. Requirements from the senior counsels are to show some leniency in their fees per hour or per hearing and also, non-effective hearings be spared from being charged. To travel the unpaved road ahead, the lawyers and the law firms both must prepare themselves and that too hard so to make these challenging times to utilize where their organization could dip. Despite an assumption of an increase in the litigation, as well as non-contentious work, post- COVID 19, it is suspicious if it would match their expectation for the receipt of revenue. It is high time for the law firms to ponder upon this changing aspect which could balance the interests of all stakeholders. Everyone has to be very cautious that every year thousands of law graduates join the profession, and they have to be suitably placed even amid this crisis period. This confidence has to be generated and shown to the clients that like other sectors that the legal industry also is prepared to face the challenges posed by the pandemic further ensuring that the quality of legal support will not be compromised.
It depicts a peculiar situation where the lawyers, on the one hand, have to deal with post-COVID-19 corporate and contractual disputes in contrast on the other; they have to embrace and overcome the challenges of such conflicts not generating adequate revenue, as it used to generate earlier. But, undoubtedly, lawyers have the best of opportunities to express that they are proactive and not reactive even during such difficult times.
“And then to believe, it is said that time, howsoever bad or good it is, changes, the only thing needed right now is to embrace this change with an ability much learnt though yet to be learnt.
FindFirms Meetup 2020, India
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