2 min read February 2021 — Duane Morris LLP is a law firm that provides innovative solutions to today’s legal and business challenges. It has over 800 attorneys globally. In an interview with Invest:, CEO Matt Taylor discusses how the law industry was affected by the pandemic, as well as why the legal sector in Philadelphia is positioned to grow.
What innovations do you expect to stick post-pandemic?
I can’t predict exactly what will go back to normal and what will change. However, I think technology for sure, and the ability to get the job done remotely, will stay with us and drive efficiency. I think people are thankful that they could work remotely and be so efficient, and they will probably want to have that option going forward at some level. But, they also realize how much they miss not being able to collaborate face to face. Zoom does not do it in terms of real collaboration. The thing I worry about the most is our younger lawyers and properly training them. They are missing so much that would be gained sitting right next to someone. In person, you can study body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and just how people generally operate. Understanding all of that is a learned behavior for younger lawyers and they’re missing that, but missing out on this is necessary until we’re safe and everyone is comfortable.
How has demand for litigation shifted?
Litigation in general is one of the areas that was most affected by the pandemic, one reason being the courts have been closed. The activity level for most litigation has been down a bit but then again, it was amazing to have the ability to use technology for arbitrations, virtual trials, mediations, depositions, hearings, oral arguments, and so forth. Once the courts and judges became accustomed to utilizing technology, things got much better. Activity picked back up, and toward the end of the year, demand was nearly back to normal. The areas where you’re seeing lots of activity are brand protection, intellectual property and employment matters.
I also think there is a great deal of pent-up litigation that will flood the market after things open back up. Litigation will be extremely busy when some of the dust settles from what has been a crazy year.
What impact will the Biden administration have on your clients?
I think the new administration will add some more layers of regulation, which will result in litigation activity. These regulations could concern the employment area, banking, securities, trading and so forth. All of this would cause activity for lawyers in general litigation.
How has Duane Morris maintained a great work culture?
Our culture boils down to how we treat one another, as well as our communication and transparency. That was never more on display than this past year. We instinctively knew how nervous people were during the pandemic, so we went on a major campaign blitz with the firm. I put out a weekly email to everyone in the firm that was a couple of pages long, explaining how collections were going, what the billable time value was and where we were with our balance sheet. They appreciated the transparency from our leadership. We had tons of Zoom meetings with the intent of sharing information. That’s good for morale. It makes people feel important, involved and secure. We also acknowledge where we need improvement, and we discuss such things.
What are some unique opportunities in Philadelphia?
There is a lot of activity in Philadelphia in certain industries. For example, the health and life sciences areas are booming. Construction is also an area that we serve at a very high level. We also have a robust education practice. That’s an area, especially with COVID, that’s going to be significantly changing at all levels of education, which will generate further activity in Philadelphia.
I think Philadelphia is a great spot right now to be as a law firm, especially with such a great talent pool. I think there is a great opportunity for our firm to maintain its strength and grow further in Philadelphia.
What is your outlook for the industry?
There may not have ever been a better time to go to law school than now. We need good smart people. I think there’s going to be a bull market for law in the coming months and years because there has been so much change in how we operate across industries. There are so many areas that have been affected by the pandemic, which creates great opportunities for smart lawyers to help companies in these industries navigate those changes. Anytime there is change, that’s good for the legal sector. My outlook is positive. So many industries are suffering, and we’re grateful to be one of the sectors that have been busy. The legal industry came out of the pandemic very strong and I believe that’s going to continue well into the future. I am very optimistic about law in Philadelphia.
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