By: Felipe Rivas
2 min read July 2020 — Individuals and companies alike need reliable legal counsel during a time of need, and much like the people and businesses they serve, legal professionals quickly adjusted their operations as a result of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the coronavirus may linger and continue accelerating change throughout different industries, Palm Beach legal professionals believe the county is suited to withstand the uncertainty and will continue to adapt to future changes.
Florida’s favorable tax landscape, talented legal workforce, and diversifying economy are among the factors driving the population growth in the Sunshine State, which in turn drives the legal needs of businesses and residents. “The biggest factor is need, with South Florida growing in terms of population and as a regional business powerhouse,” West Palm Beach injury lawyer Gary Lesser told Invest: Palm Beach. “This means more lawyers have been needed to meet the legal needs caused by that growth.” Lesser, managing partner for Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith PLLC, one of the state’s oldest law firms, said Florida law schools’ emphasis on business, community involvement, and technical knowledge produce well-rounded graduates. “We are producing law graduates who are much more adept than they were years ago. Many lawyers are now graduating from law school and joining firms or setting up their own practices in South Florida,” Lesser said.
“Florida has terrific law schools,” Fox Rothschild West Palm Beach Office Managing Partner Robert Sacco told Invest: Palm Beach. “They prepare students to be good theoretical lawyers and also provide critical insights on the practical aspects of being a lawyer. The clinical programs the law schools offer are particularly important in this regard as they give students a real sense of what it is like to practice in the real world,” he said.
While Florida’s legal sector can count on well-rounded talent, COVID-19-related change was inevitable for legal professionals. “COVID-19 has really accelerated trends in the legal and business worlds. One example is the movement toward paperless systems, which is now much more common. The technology was always there but we have now developed greater efficiencies, which clients appreciate,” Lesser said. Video conferences have made client meetings, hearings and mediations possible during the pandemic and help meet the demand for legal services. “I think a lot of these changes will stay with us going forward, making law firms and businesses in general more efficient for clients and customers. I think there will be sectors of the economy that will scale down, but the legal and business worlds will continue to stay very busy,” Lesser said.
While technology undoubtedly is helping the legal industry meet client demand, it can also increase opportunities for legal professionals. “Technology is a growth area for Palm Beach County,” Sacco said. “Technology companies are finding that South Florida offers business expansion opportunities that increasingly are becoming similar to those of Silicon Valley. West Palm Beach in particular is a developing hotspot for the tech industry – a sizable economic shift from the early 2000s when the area was more focused on tourists and retirement communities.”
Although the future remains uncertain, Palm Beach County’s business and legal environment is likely to remain resilient in the midst of the coronavirus-related challenges. “Florida is too vibrant to be held down regardless of the outcomes. I think some job creation is needed since we lost so many jobs, but I think the prognosis for Palm Beach County is very good. I have seen some activity picking up in the last few weeks and the businesses that are adept and flexible will see the rewards going forward,” Lesser said.
Sacco echoes Lesser’s sentiments when thinking about the medium- to long-term future of the region’s economy. “Going into the second half of 2020, the many business growth decisions that were delayed will be unleashed. I believe we will likely see a surge in economic activity as we go forward into 2021,” he said. “While it will take some time to reinvigorate some economic pipelines, I believe the outlook for 2021 is positive and we will ultimately see a strong economic rebound in 2021.”
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