Canadian Lawyer

June 2020

The most widely read magazine for Canadian lawyers

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28 www.canadianlawyermag.com FEATURE PANDEMIC ECONOMICS THE COVID-19 lockdown has affected every area of law differently. In some, work has remained consistent and in others, business has slowed to a trickle. The pandemic has left its mark on the types of services clients want and the way it is delivered. Businesses began shutting their doors in the middle of March, and by April 1, 1.1 million Canadians were out of work. On April 5, the Globe and Mail reported widespread salary cuts at large law firms. For solo practitioners and small firms, COVID's economic impact means a significant number of lawyers and law practices will be put out of business, says Jordan Furlong, a lawyer and global legal market analyst. Many of the 1.1 million are clients or potential clients whose unemployment means they no longer need legal services, he says. "They are not buying and selling houses. They are not updating their wills. They are not starting small businesses. If they have small business, they are probably closed," Furlong says. "Self-employed individuals, among other things, were keeping a ton of law practices busy, especially solo and small-firm practices. "I think there is a significant threat to the livelihoods of a whole lot of lawyers." Christopher Devlin practises almost exclusively in Indigenous law, representing First Nations, Metis groups and Indigenous- owned organizations. Most of Devlin's clients live in remote, rural communities. Since the pandemic hit, many have gone into self- imposed lockdowns to prevent the virus from entering. Prior to COVID, Devlin had clients on the verge of filing major litigation asserting s. 35 rights, others in the process of filing claims with the federal government. Business owners with advisory needs have seen revenue dry up and First Nations have had internal governance issues with elections, Never going back The COVID-19 pandemic is being felt throughout the legal profession in varying ways, but all lawyers agree it has caused irreversible changes to their practices, writes Aidan Macnab ratifications, referenda and other matters put on hold because members cannot participate in person. "There's just a huge amount of activity that First Nations engage in that is affected by the COVID-19 crisis," Devlin says. Band councils and administrations are usually overwhelmed with requests from Crown officials and resource developers to meet for consultation on the group's traditional territory, he says. "These days, people are more concerned about making sure that there is sufficient personal protection equipment in the communities and that people have enough groceries and firewood for their wood-burning stoves in their homes." The extent to which COVID-19 has impacted Indigenous communities has meant DGW has had to make salary reductions. It "I think there is a significant threat to the livelihoods of a whole lot of lawyers." Jordan Furlong, Law21

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