2020 has been a year of challenges for most people, not just attorneys, both personally and professionally. The virus has created significant stress, economic hardship, and strain across the nation. The strain is exacerbated by the need for social distancing to prevent the continued spread of the virus. We cannot just reach out and give a hug to a family member or friend in need. Unfortunately, social distancing to prevent the spread of the disease has also created isolation and loneliness.
Each person and their family is handling this year and these challenges very differently. Just as our country is deeply divided over politics, so are we deeply divided over how best to handle the virus. However, despite our differences, what I have found truly remarkable about this year is example after example of neighbors helping neighbors, communities supporting local business and everyone — no matter their politics, working together to find solutions to help each other make it through these challenges together.
I continue to be truly inspired by my friends’, colleagues’, and community’s efforts and creativity in meeting needs and helping those around them. Families have created pods to share teaching responsibilities; employers have provided flexibility to parents and caregivers. Parents are spending significant time with their children and reconnecting.
The legal community has made significant progress this year — not necessarily by choice but by necessity. Many of these changes have been long overdue and are anticipated to continue long after this pandemic is over.
For example, video court hearings and jury trials have been proven successful and will continue. Long gone are the days where it was necessary for an attorney to fly to every single mediation or deposition and appear in person with their client. Zoom and video depositions and mediations are now routine and an accepted practice around the country. This presents not only a significant time and cost savings for clients, but the opportunity for a more balanced work/life for attorneys.
Attorneys and law firms are realizing, just like other businesses, that anyone can work from anywhere with an internet connection. The cost savings realized from reduced commercial space is significant. Attorneys also appreciate the flexibility and increased work/life balance working from a home office can provide, including zero commute time. Doing purposeful work for a respected company with a shared vision is more important than any physical connection to a space. Quality of life is not just a saying anymore… people are prioritizing where they live and the quality of their life outside of work rather than putting in long hours to “maybe” one day get ahead. If this year has taught us anything, it is that spending time with family and friends is precious and not to be taken for granted.
So, this year, while unprecedented and truly horrible in so many ways, has also been a truly remarkable time of reflection. Cherish and spend time with those you love this holiday season. Continue to lift each other up and give each other grace. Take time to let your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues know how much they mean to you. We all appreciate knowing someone cares about us. We all need more of that this year and every year.
Best wishes for 2021