A nationwide pulse survey finds that the coronavirus crisis has forced 87 percent of law offices to work entirely or partially remotely, as they struggle to maintain financial stability and keep up billable hours.

The survey was conducted by the practice management company MyCase, which published some of the results on its blog earlier this week and will be publishing the rest of the data within the next week, so watch there for more information.

The company gave me preview access to the full results, which surveyed law firms nationwide and collected results from 819 legal professionals.

The survey found that 48% of law firms are operating entirely remotely and 39% percent are operating partially remotely. Just 12% of firms are operating in their physical offices.

A surprising finding is how quickly firms made the transition to remote work. Ninety percent made the transition in a week or less and 46% did it in a day or less.

No doubt, mandatory quarantine orders contributed to these rapid transitions, but the numbers suggest firms either already had the capability to work remotely or were able to update their technology quickly.

On that point, the survey asked which technology tools firms had implemented within the last month. No surprise here — the top answer by a wide margin was video conferencing technology, cited by 64% of respondents. A quarter said they’d added new hardware, such as laptops and phones.

Another not-so-surprising finding, at least to me, is that firms using cloud-based systems felt more prepared to work from home than those not using cloud systems. Asked if they have what they need to work from home, 79% of those using cloud systems said yes, compared to 59% of those not using cloud systems.

But even though most firms were able to transition quickly to working from home, that does not mean it has been all smooth sailing.

Asked the most critical challenge they face right now, the most-frequent answer, given by half the respondents, is maintaining financial stability. Others cited court closures, meeting with clients, and collecting payments.

On a personal level, 20% said their greatest challenge is meeting billable hour requirements.

In response to these challenges, a third of firms say they have cut expenses and 16% say that have reduced headcount through layoffs or furloughs. Sixteen percent are increasing their marketing.

What do lawyers think will be the lasting impacts of the coronavirus crisis? According to the survey, 69% agree it will have a lasting impact on how they operate and 76% agree it will have a lasting impact on the way their firm uses technology.

There is much more to the survey, including additional data and comments provided by respondents, so watch the MyCase blog for further information.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.