Like most businesses, the practice of law changed dramatically in March as the state largely shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the most visible manifestation is video oral arguments held by the state Supreme Court. But the legal industry also changed, out of necessity. It’s a business built largely on relationships – and the pandemic forced lawyers to nurture those relationships remotely.
Eventually, client meetings and conferences should return, though no one knows when. So for the foreseeable future, the current reality is here to stay. But even after the economy rebounds to something resembling normal, the legal industry – again like most businesses – will be permanently changed.
In some important ways, lawyers are uniquely positioned to deal with that change. They know the levers of power and how to apply their training to solve problems. That’s why law firms and general counsel will be among the most important economic actors in the years to come.
For example, the long-term care industry, in all likelihood, is going to look vastly different than it did in January. Facilities will face stricter rules and will have to adopt different training regimens and business practices. Those new requirements will be developed by health care professionals, but lawyers will actually make sure the rules work as they are designed to.
On the other side, the facilities themselves will need help complying with the new rules in a way that allows them to operate in a financially sound manner. That will be a tricky proposition, and it will largely be up to lawyers to figure out how to get it done.
Other industries will face similar challenges. Retailers, restaurants, entertainment venues and casinos, to name just a few obvious examples, all anticipate operating in a manner that would have been unimaginable just a few months ago. As law firms and in-house attorneys adjust to their own new realities, they’ll also be working to help clients adjust to theirs.
As always, the top ten individuals are ranked numerically. The remaining profiles are presented alphabetically, and you can check out our slideshow here. Take a look and let us know what you think.