Like many other law firms, Washington, D.C.-based Goldblatt Martin Pozen (GMP) LLP had always held meetings face to face at its offices or the client’s. Staff members preferred working in the office full time to make it easy to discuss cases and bounce ideas off each other.
“We never really implemented a telework policy, nor did we desire to do so,” says David L. Goldblatt, Partner at the firm, which represents mostly local businesses and large corporations.
This changed in mid-March 2020 when an IT contractor visited the GMP’s office. The contractor’s boss called and asked him to leave immediately as someone at a site he visited the day before had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
As soon as Goldblatt found out, he realized his staff could not continue working in the office. The firm quickly drafted new work guidelines and talked to employees about their preferred work setup. By the end of that day, a Friday, everyone went home with a computer that had a videoconferencing capability.
“Our entire office had to go from working every day in the office to working from home over the course of a weekend as COVID-19 hit,” says Goldblatt.
This sudden change meant GMP had to quickly decide which technology it would use so employees could stay in touch with each other and with clients — and ensure consistency in handling legal cases. Initially, the firm took advantage of a video conferencing service it already had access to. While the platform was good for internal work, it was not ideal for external communication.
Another platform GMP tried was lacking in its security protocols. Security was one of GMP’s top consideration, along with the ability to break into different private rooms during a video conference, and ease of use.
After trying several platforms, GMP decided BlueJeans provided the strongest security protocols and was the easiest to use for its staff and clients. The platform’s breakout rooms were also a deciding factor for the firm.
“We knew that as a law firm, we could be in a situation where we might want to suddenly be able to talk to a client separately from the other party,” says Goldblatt.
“The ability to go to my Outlook Calendar, schedule BlueJeans meetings, and then email them out to people is a great feature,” he adds. “Having a phone number that someone can call if they don’t want to be on video is also extremely useful as people manueaver between video conference and standard teleconference”
Clients appreciate how fast and easy it is to join a BlueJeans meeting, Goldblatt notes. When using the service for the first time, they can download the application without delay, or simply join through a web browser.
Having a reliable and secure communication platform has helped GMP’s employees stay productive and engaged while working remotely. Although they had to get used to their new normal, just like any other organization, they did not experience a slowdown in performing their work.
“I’ve been very impressed with how well the transition was for everyone and how productive everybody has been working from home using video conferencing and all the assets we have to provide work product to one another,” says Goldblatt.
Changing ways of working
While he has not envisioned how the firm’s office culture might change, Goldblatt expects video conferencing to alter the work cultures of its clients.
“I think video conferencing is definitely going to change those cultures. And we’re going to see a lot less travel necessary for meetings, where we can just hop on a video conference and no one has to leave their desk.”
Goldblatt believes this way of working is more productive as it reduces or eliminates travel time.
“I see from a client perspective and in terms of work productivity that switching to video conferencing and having less face-to-face meetings is absolutely necessary as a true change in culture,” he says.
Ultimately, this will have a big impact on how law firms such as GMP work. They may have to permanently change some of the ways they interact with clients, to ensure they can provide the safe and efficient digital support their clients need.