COVID-19 has forced companies to take a radical new approach to how they do work. Overnight remote working from home became the norm. Other facets of the legal world have been profoundly affected too.

For example, in legal education, the FE-1 Exams have been cancelled, the universities also had to transition to online teaching in a matter of weeks. Johnson Hana was no exception to this online transition. Many companies have decided to cancel their internship programs. This is a bad situation to be in for both the company who misses out on valuable future talent and for the individual intern who misses out on relevant experience.

Johnson Hana has a track record of shaking up the legal industry using technology to their advantage. We can see this through their recent partnership with Kira, a service which they are putting to excellent use maximizing efficiency in analysing contracts. They have continued to innovate in other areas as well, one of which is their online internship. They managed to take me on as an intern despite the current situation through their use of technology. They are one of the few companies in the legal sector who have been able to do this.

It appears that these trends may be ongoing after the COVID crisis has ended, not just in the legal sector but across all areas of the service industry. According to a survey done by the Institute of Directors Ireland, only one-eighth of business leaders expect all staff will be back in the office after the crisis has ended. With 40% expecting an equal mix of remote and office workers to return to their positions. After this crisis has finished, there will be a point of reckoning for companies where they may have to decide if it is advantageous to continue using their new remote working model.

This new paradigm, however, may also create a challenge for employees as the line between home life and work is blurred further. Many remote workers say they find themselves working longer hours than they otherwise would and have been finding it difficult to switch off according to Ashley Donoghue of TU Dublin. This situation presents a challenge for both business leaders and their employees as there has never been one point in history where there was such a dramatic shift in the way companies worked.

Through the use of modern online remote working tools such as Microsoft Teams, Jira and Salesforce, among others, Johnson Hana has managed to continue operating “business as usual” and have been able to take me on as an intern. This has helped me to gain great insight into the way the legal industry is heading. The market for alternative legal solutions is only going to continue to grow in the coming years. I am incredibly grateful for receiving this opportunity to work with such an innovative company.