Burnaby’s Clio are releasing a series of briefings over the coming months to provide real-time analysis of the impacts of COVID-19.

Leveraging their experience reporting on legal trends, these briefings are intended to help legal professionals pivot their firm operations in light of changing demands and better understand the barriers consumers are facing in accessing legal services.

In their first briefing, early analysis of aggregated and anonymized data from Clio’s legal practice management software shows that law firms are seeing a significant slowdown in business, as the number of legal matters opened each week has declined over 30% since the start of the year.

Survey data also shows that 56% of law firms have seen a significant decrease in requests for legal assistance.

The data shows that one reason firms are seeing slowdown has to do with consumer attitudes toward legal problems.

Almost half (49%) say that if they had a legal issue, they would very likely delay reaching out for legal help until after the coronavirus pandemic has subsided, while an additional 22% reported that they were under the impression that lawyers have ceased offering legal services completely.

“We’ve seen no indication that the need for legal services has subsided during the pandemic, but for many people, dealing with them right now isn’t top of mind,” said Jack Newton, CEO and Co-founder of Clio.

“Law firms concerned about cash flow should be focused on understanding what barriers currently exist for clients, and be sure they are prepared to adapt their services to current and future needs of clients.”

The report also found that a minority (14%) of firms say they’ve seen an increase in business, and 13% of consumers say they expect to deal with a legal issue resulting specifically from the coronavirus pandemic.

Clio’s data also shows how public perception of lawyers remains positive: 78% say they consider lawyers to be an essential service, and 20% say they consider lawyers to be more relevant now than before the pandemic.

Social distancing is having an impact on how individuals perceive the justice system and may be influencing the reason consumers are choosing to delay reaching out for legal help. Of those surveyed, 38% say that if they had an issue go to trial, a remote hearing (as opposed to in-person) would negatively impact the outcome.

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