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Weekly legal tech news – April 20, 2020

This week’s legal tech news note that the current situation might push the legal systems into the 21st century. From courts forced to adopt technology, to lawyers and legal professionals working from home, the entire legal industry is relying on technology now more than ever. Find out in this week’s summary of how European lawyers are adapting to this and how they respond to the technology challenges.

Pandemic may finally push Germany’s courts into 21st century – German legal press notes. In late March, a Berlin judge told the people in his packed courtroom that it could take just 15 minutes for a single person with the coronavirus to infect them all. For a group of lawyers and legal-technology firms in Germany, it was a compelling moment: They wrote to state and federal justice ministers demanding an end to years of foot-dragging toward the rollout of digital justice. As Covid-19 closed in on Europe’s biggest economy, they told the politicians that “to avoid a justice gridlock” it’s “imperative to initiate the necessary steps”. Investing in technology and short-term use of Internet-based video conferencing instead of regular hearings was the only pragmatic solution, they said. Read more on this subject in this article.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a reboot for the analogue English courts for the modern digital age – Law.com notes. The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted practically every walk of life around the globe. The legal sector is no different and the last few weeks has seen the “new normal” for lawyers – like for other sectors – of mass remote working, webchats and social distancing. The English courts have also seen one of the biggest changes in the process in years. The Coronavirus Act 2020, emergency legislation passed on 25 March 2020, allowed for courts to broadcast virtual hearings to the public. Find out more about this subject on Law.com.

COVID-19 has reminded us how globalized the world has become, how interconnected we all are and the role that technology will play in our future – Ronan Hynes, partner at Sellors, one of the biggest Irish law firms, told Irish Legal. Never before has it been so vital that the legal system moves swiftly to embrace technology to keep pace with this change, he added. Read the entire article on Irish Legal.

The unprecedented situation we are all facing in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak and the steps being taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our colleagues and clients – and of course our families and loved ones – has emphasized the need to ensure we can make full use of existing technological solutions. We have seen a rapid response across the legal sector – Paul Mosson, Executive Director of Member Services and Engagement for the Law Society of Scotland, told FutureScot. Read more about how the Scotland legal system is handling the COVID-19 crisis in this article.

Law firms have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with high-stakes trials on pause and deal work related to M&A and IPOs drying up. Still, there are bright spots. Restructuring lawyers have seen a surge in activity, and firms with strong labor and employment practices are getting a boost. The coronavirus has forced an unprecedented switch to remote work, and some insiders say the move is already prompting a rethink of office space and talent needs for the long run. Business Insider has been tracking layoffs and job cuts at law firms, and the latest on firms’ plans for their 2020 associate classes. Read their conclusions in this article.

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