By: Editorial Staff, Date: March 9th, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our world in ways that we are only beginning to understand. While many of the pandemic’s consequences are broadly recognized, other more nuanced ways in which the pandemic has influenced our society have largely flown under the radar. One such consequence of the virus that hasn’t garnered a ton of attention is the impact that it has had on litigation in the United States.

According to a recent survey published by Norton Rose Fullbright (NRF), the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a substantial increase in litigation with 31% of companies surveyed reporting a rise in disputes. At the same time, the economic strain during the COVID-19 crisis has also put pressure on organizations to lower their legal costs as half of the survey’s respondents reported being under pressure to reduce their legal spending. Another consequence of the pandemic that NRF’s survey highlighted is the fact that companies are now keener than ever to settle out of court. This is due in large part to how dramatically the legal process has been slowed for the past year, as well as an effort to avoid the expenses associated with going to court.

While these changes in U.S. litigation are noteworthy, they are likely only the beginning of the trends that the pandemic has set into motion. About 45% of companies surveyed stated that they expect the number of disputes related to COVID-19 to continue to increase over the next year, and many expect the move toward virtual hearings to remain a common fixture in the legal system moving forward.

With more and more vaccines being distributed every day, we can hope that the pandemic’s darkest days are already behind us. The fallout from the virus, though – including the litany of effects that it has had on litigation in the United States – is something that we are likely to continue grappling with for many years to come.

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