The Changing Legal Landscape
During this time of pandemic shutdowns, legal process and procedure were forced to change.
Suddenly, we had no choice but to practice differently, and the court system had to accept drastic changes to legal processes. The way we always knew to practice law simply does not work in a pandemic.
Is Change Good?
I’ve pondered whether this change prompted all of us in the legal field to become more creative. Or did it just bring us into the 21st century? Are we finally embracing a new face of law that was inevitable, but which we resisted until we had no choice?
This happened in a lot of industries and fields. Companies that did not embrace work-from-home did so quickly and completely to protect the health of employees and clients.
Surprisingly, they found productivity did not wane! In many cases, productivity improved because people were trusted to get work done and do it well.
How Divorce Law Happens
The legal field is an interesting mix of independent and communal work. A lot of my work happens in my office, on my computer, pulling research and precedent and templates to create motions, judgments, and other written pieces of legal process.
There is also work I cannot do alone. For litigation cases, I must appear in court, beside my client.
Their spouse must appear as well, with his or her attorney. We appear in a court room, before a judge, with the courtroom clerk, Friend of the Court representatives and witnesses, too.
That’s a lot of people in a small space. In normal times, there are also other people awaiting their turn before the judge.
We all show up in a closed room without windows, waiting for our turn to be heard.
That’s just one example of how divorce law can be a very in-person process. But in a pandemic, all that had to change to keep people safe.
We’ve discovered that cases get done anyway, even in totally unprecedented conditions.
I wonder, will divorce law remain a distance activity?
The court has started live streaming legal proceedings out of necessity. Might we continue once it’s safe to gather again?
A New Approach to Family Law
Or, are we finding new efficiencies that we want to keep going forward, independent of public health mandates?
People are historically resistant to change. We know what we know, and we are comfortable in familiar routines.
But change is the only constant, and when something changes, we end up better for it.
There is no question that something is lost when we cannot gather together. But perhaps something is gained, too.