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Functioning of Legal Fraternity post COVID

Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.-John Maxwell

COVID has opened a new dimension for the legal fraternity. The spread was so rapid, and damaging on multiple fronts that it was unpredictable. It made the digitalisation of the court and proceedings possible, which has always been existing as a mere dream in the matter of days. And it was indeed the best possible solution to the existing issue of corona threat. The digitalisation started just as a mere need but is going to be used as the most fundamental aspect.

It has changed the whole legal fraternity drastically. It has broken the stigma of hard and fast rules of files and papers. Lawyers and clients worldwide are being affected and routine operations, travel, interactions and health and safety has become a matter of great concern. The use of technology has gained new importance, especially where the law firms had to shut down their offices.

Law is a Trillion Dollar global industry. The legal industry is fragmented, growing, has a huge untapped market for its services, and is ready for the major technological development. The legal fraternity as a whole is facing a huge impact worldwide and not only in India. The wake of COVID leveraged the usage of technology in the legal system. Introduction of technology to the system will make it easier and affordable for the litigants.

The changes are being adopted rapidly throughout the fraternity and that's something great. Most of the filing and formalities are being made paperless. It is also going to help in the sustainable development goal of paperless economy. The digitalization in the fraternity was welcomed by his lordship Hon�ble Mr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud in the very early phase of the lockdown. This is an undisputed fact that these transformations have brought major challenges. It would be wrong to just envisage the financial turmoil and economic collapse. It is going to change the working of the legal fraternity at a great level.

The Supreme Court also laid down the guidelines regarding the functioning of courts via video conferencing through a suo moto case.[1]�The bench comprising of Hon'ble Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, His Lordship Hon'ble Mr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and His Lordship Hon'ble Mr. L Nageswara Rao directed NIC officials to assist High Courts with the setup of infrastructure to handle hearings via video conferencing.

The bench observed that:
Access to justice is fundamental to preserve the Rule of Law in the democracy envisioned by the Constitution of India. The challenges occasioned by the outbreak of COVID-19 have to be addressed while preserving the constitutional commitment to ensuring the delivery of and access to justice to those who seek it. It is necessary to ensure compliance with social distancing guidelines issued from time to time by various health authorities, Government of India and States. Court hearings in the congregation must necessarily become an exception during this period.

The crisis proves the fact that the courts are efficiently equipped with sufficient ways to act at any time or in an hour of need. This Pandemic has also helped us to eradicate certain methods of age-old practices and go digital effectively.

The dedication of the judiciary to protect the rule of law in the confusing and hard times is highly commendable. The technology and infrastructure to carry out this idea and safeguard the legal framework in India from breakdowns in similar situations in the future assuring that no person approaching the Court for justice will go unheard even in situations that threaten the very foundations of our society.�The Indian Judiciary has proved to be an institution of utmost importance for the nation.

This paradigm shift in the working is going to make things a lot easier. It has been observed that even the lower courts are adopting the new normal and working foot by foot. It�s difficult to state whether this would have a positive or a negative impact on the justice delivery system. India is a highly populated country and it is very important that the people have faith in the judiciary. So it is very important to maintain that trust of the society on the rights enforcing agency.

Due to the pandemic spread thousands of people will require legal support, for the issues concerning lost jobs, evictions, insurance claims, and family emergencies. Many of the independent lawyers have started online consultations for their clients and also have been increasingly using E- Contracts. A lot of changes in the legal fraternity can be expected in the upcoming near future pertaining to things and challenging situations.

Law firms and individual lawyers might have a rough road ahead. Litigation and Non- Contentious is steadily bound to increase post-COVID. It was witnessed that the rising volume of work could not match the expectation and receipt of revenue. The management of law firms have to think about restructuring, to balance the interests of the stakeholders.
There is a large no. of daily wage earners in our legal fraternity who are required to work continuously to generate sufficient income. In these hard times the daily earners are the ultimate sufferers in terms of their financial dependency.

The world is about to enter the fourth industrial revolution led by automation. Digitalisation has already interrupted the businesses across the spectrum.�Hence, it is high time when the Indian Judiciary must introduce technology in its daily hearing.

Looking into Indian context specifically, the existing companies in China which are shifting to India, will increase the demand of legal experts and requirement of Legal Industry as a whole. As per my analysis, there is going to be a boost in the business of Legal Industry. Indian Legal Fraternity is all set to welcome the businesses which is entering India from China.

Another new Aspect of work that is work from home is going to be boosted or, will become a positive spinoff of COVID. Work from home was already existing in India but was never given much attention. Work from home in India up till this outbreak has mostly been considered as just a part-time job. Work from home as a full-time job has not been given much emphasis upon. Government is taking this as an opportunity to promote work from home in numerous sectors.

Work from home will depict no. of benefits which may include cost-saving, decongesting roads, controlling pollution, etc. This would enhance the existing liveable environment. This also removes certain restrictions based on normal working like fixed working hours for women, intellectual property rights, etc.

Due to the COVID outbreak, most of the migrant workers have left their place of work and returned to their place of origin. Now since many of them would be left unemployed, they would require productive jobs in their place of origin. Therefore, a lot of talent and human resource would be left unemployed until proper measures are taken to employ them locally. As the Corporate Social Responsibility, the companies are required to employ locally and as a result, the employment can be boosted in those particular regions.

Laws are necessarily required to be reviewed, to make contextual changes which are being conceived. There are a number of legislations which requires amendment as per the changes and requirements of the society. The Amendment will help to align with the perceived changes in the economic and legal framework.

Although the situation has been uncontrollable and unpredictable but it seems that there is going to be a huge increase in demand for the legal fraternity and an increase in the overall business. The litigants should be ready to cope with the changes so as to keep up with what the society and conditions demands. There has been a lot of changes in the functioning of litigation as a whole and further changes can be expected. Work from home culture is likely to be enhanced and should be a major point of focus.

Digitalization in the fraternity is going to have a very huge positive impact as a whole. The Digitalization is about to open new doors to the Impossible. It is going to cut down the costs and increase the productivity and open better service opportunities. Post COVID is going to bring a lot of new business opportunities in India due to china expulsion. And as a global issue the employment, insurance and legal disputes can be regarded as the upcoming opportunities.

  1. In Re: Guidelines For Court Functioning Through Video Conferencing During Covid-19 Pandemic

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