By Luis Carrion, Managing Partner

As with other businesses, the pandemic has significantly changed the way we operate, the way our people interact with each other, with our clients and with our neighborhood here in Cleveland.

Although our physical office is open, many of our people continue to take advantage of our ability to work remotely. Candidly, we surprised ourselves in how the system improvements we had just recently put in place allowed us to continue doing business by working (mostly) remotely, not seeing any drop in timeliness, client service, etc. A client recently commented we were the rare legal service supplier that seemed unaffected by the pandemic.

Still, as we know all too well, no one - and no business - has been unaffected by COVID-19.

Law, at least the way Renner Otto practices it, is a team activity. Our practice relies heavily on informal interactions between our people for training, apprenticeship, team building, continuous process improvement, etc. As an example, we have a responsibility to train the excellent group of people who have recently joined us during the pandemic. Working remotely has made that more difficult and we continue to adjust. Every day we find ourselves inventing new ways of promoting interaction in this environment.

It is similar with client interactions. By this time in a regular year, we would have taken dozens of domestic and foreign trips to visit with our clients. Most of those interactions now take place over video, which is not the same. I, for one, miss seeing some of those friends and colleagues, in person. But video would have to do in the short term.

Our Playhouse Square and Downtown Cleveland neighborhood is currently not the buzzing, lively place it normally is. We feel for our theatre, retail, restaurant, and bar owner/employee neighbors who are truly bearing the brunt of the pandemic. At Renner Otto we have and will continue to play our role as good neighborhoods to help as we can through this experience.

Yet, even with all those changes, 2020 has been a good year for Renner Otto. Through it all, our firm has managed to grow and continue improving on our excellent client service.

As far as the larger legal practice, the last few months have treated the industry unevenly. Some practices have suffered while others have thrived. Intellectual Property law, at least from our lived experience, has been one of the bright spots. Coronavirus does not appear to have deterred the brilliant scientists and engineers we work with and may have even fomented additional research and development activity. We count ourselves lucky that we have been able to continue to grow in this environment.

As time passes, some of the traditional activities in law will return, but I believe the practice has been changed forever - in mostly positive ways. Learning to better manage remote work will allow us to continue to grow and expand our geographic reach while scaling down costs. Streamlined case management, financial/billing practices, etc. forced upon us by this pandemic will continue to make us better and more efficient. Even after we fully return to the office, the communication tools we all now use will continue to enhance the way we work together and with our clients.

As some of you might know, we finished a remodel of our offices this past March, only to have to send people home shortly thereafter. We had planned an inauguration celebration that is yet to take place. And it will. In the meantime, we will continue to do everything we can to keep our people safe and to maintain and continue to improve upon the level of service our clients have come to expect from us. We look forward to the day we can work together - in person - soon. In the meantime, we're here to continue to help move your innovations forward.