The COVID Impact on Litigation
The world of litigation is always changing — perhaps now more than ever. Trends across all fields of business and law throughout the last year have shaped and reshaped needs and opportunities. What do these changes mean for your business or legal firm? What can you expect? How can you stay ahead? We interviewed three experts in our panel to gather insight in this area, doing what we do best: Bringing a variety of perspectives to a topic that’s relevant for you. If you’re hoping to gain expert insight on COVID-era trends, read our synthesis of consultants’ changes and predictions for the future.
The first expert we interviewed, Steve, has worked in disaster preparedness for several decades. Steve aids businesses throughout the United States in continuity through a variety of crises, including H1N1, data protection, and, over the last year, widespread reactions to the coronavirus pandemic. Before the COVID era, Steve’s crisis preparedness career began in data protection and telecommunications, then translated in a big way to avian flu and then H1N1. Each of these disaster responses demanded extensive prework on the part of his firm, then launch following federal declarations of emergency.
Steve discussed “what we learned” from H1N1 — where “we” can mean businesses in his disaster preparedness work; the U.S. government; and the everyday American. These implications include professional and emotional responses, not least of which is “pandemic fatigue” and the interpretation of information from a variety of sources, which vary in urgency and accuracy across journalism, social media and federal administration.
The second expert in this series, Cathrine, is a UK-based consumer psychology expert who has advised a number of global companies on consumer decision making. Cathrine holds a Ph.D in Aesthetic Appreciation of Products. For years, she has supplemented consumer surveys and other psychological research methods with media studies. Her approaches have included a “mix” of media reports with questionnaires to reach as wide an audience as possible, resulting in as many as 600 questionnaires per research initiative. Cathrine’s thought leadership focuses largely on the physical experience of retail and shopping, and on the effects of these ecosystems on buyer perspective.
Catherine discussed trends in bulk buying — her preferred term over panic buying, for reasons we’ll explore in the next blog post — the concept of “treats,” and global psychological and widespread reactions to powerlessness and uncertainty. Additional COVID trends includes the current and future impact of “disappointment or ire” directed, however justified, at the government and at employers. Cathrine has observed corroboration and extrapolation for her work in each of these areas in the United States and in Sweden with implications globally (less so in China and India).
The third and final expert we interviewed, Fred, is a highly experienced litigation expert who regularly conducts “trench warfare” with a variety of litigators. Fred offers a close view and plenty of insight on the impact of the COVID era on litigation and litigation practices. Having “litigated every kind of case you can imagine,” Fred has spent years working in a wide variety of commercial litigation cases. His scholarship also includes shifts in litigation well before the COVID era, spanning major cultural changes over the last half-century. Fred spent the first four years of his career “putting bad guys in jail” and has since conducted private practice for over 15 years — handling an increase in size, complexity and breadth in types of litigation.
Fred discussed dispute resolution, labor and employment, and specialties within “law land.” He pontificated on the effects of the entire litigation community living in “Zoom land” for trial, including drip into traditional advocacy, deposition technique, travel, confirmation of credibility, attorney drama and “tricks,” demonstration of expert knowledge, forums and methods of convenience, jury conventions, and the professional and personal rewards and stimulations of the social aspect.
So — what are the impacts for you as the world of litigation continues to shift dramatically? What trends can we expect to continue after the COVID era? What does the transition to an almost entirely digital landscape mean for a variety of industries? We have insights on each of these questions, and more, to come in a series of blog posts carved out of our interview series with Steve, Cathrine and Fred in major trends. Stay tuned for the next installment: What we’ve learned from this crisis, and how we can move forward.
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