Publish: April 18, 2020 by framestr
The coronavirus pandemic has fostered an immense amount of overnight changes across our society. Financial and legal arrangements, in particular, have been totally upended now that workers and employers alike are struggling to make ends meet. Many who need a lawyer are struggling to afford one despite needing legal representation now more than ever.
We’ve thus seen an explosion in alternative fee arrangements now that people everywhere need alternative methods for paying off their debts and other obligations. As time goes on, we’ll see these alternative fee arrangements become more commonplace until they become the new normal in a pandemic.
The legal system is in disarray
There’s no denying that the continued spread of COVID-19 has paralyzed our legal system. Important proceedings have been temporarily suspended and countless legal professionals from all walks of life have found themselves either sick or quarantined. Nevertheless, this COVID-related paralysis is being slowly but surely broken up due to a number of innovations that are ensuring courts can keep working. The digitization of our legal system is well underway, for instance, and we should expect digital tools used to help facilitate alternative fee arrangements to keep growing in popularity, too.
Just take a look at the Supreme Court, which is digitizing like never before and making videos and other data accessible to the masses via digital tools that were previously shunned for a wide variety of reasons, some good and some bad. If the nation’s highest legal body has been disrupted from the coronavirus, you can rest assured that smaller, private practices and everyday people’s interaction with the law have also been impacted by COVID-19.
Legal minds at Lilenfeld PC have already demonstrated how and why alternative fee structures will be cropping up in response to this disruption. Some practices are offering flat fees when they previously didn’t because this is the only way to ensure clients will be able to afford the legal services they need. Others are racing to implement fee caps to reassure clients who want legal advice but are concerned about giving away too much of their winnings during a time of economic turmoil.
We need to expand legal education
Unfortunately, alternative fee arrangements will only become the new norm in pandemics if we expand legal education to ensure that everyday individuals know how to take advantage of them. While savvy and moral legal practitioners won’t take advantage of this pandemic, some less savory characters might, and the entire legal world has an obligation to keep everyday people informed on how they can obtain affordable and legitimate legal services.
Much in the same way that entire news articles are being written to help those who can’t afford their rent payments, we need accessible and widely-distributed information about alternative fee arrangements. The alternative is a loss in revenue across private practices because individuals are too worried about costs to seek out the legal expertise they need. For the profitable sake of the legal industry and for the wellbeing of citizens alike, alternative fee arrangements that provide for financial flexibility must become the new norm in a pandemic.