Our Lawyer Spotlight series highlights Illinois lawyers who are demonstrating the ideals of professionalism in their daily lives.
Syed Ahmad is an attorney at SA Law and Consulting LLC (SALC Firm) in Peoria, Ill. An experienced trial attorney, Syed has successfully represented the interests of individuals, governmental entities, and corporations. Syed was previously counsel at the largest firm in Central Illinois where he rapidly gained a reputation for diligently advocating for the interests of his clients.
How is your firm adapting to the changing work environment?
SALC Firm started operations in February 2020. From the very beginning, the goal was to provide legal services using cutting-edge technology. We started with the goal that all work, with certain exceptions where physical presence is required, could be completed remotely and efficiently. Even before COVID-19 started affecting our lives, we instituted a cloud-based system that provides controlled access to clients where they can view their file documents and calendar entries. We meet clients and attend Court on Zoom (or other similar programs). As a bonus, the system allows me to work on my cases from anywhere. All in all, aside from mandatory in-person Court appearances, we have a fully functioning digital legal office. With all that said, our firm does maintain a full-time office where clients are still able to meet with us whenever needed.
What challenges do attorneys in your practice area face in navigating COVID-19?
Attorneys are being forced to adopt new technologies in their practice. The profession has, for a long time, been very conservative with adopting changes. I have personally drafted carbon paper proposed orders for the Court – within the last 5-6 years! Changes are necessary and COVID-19 has accelerated the move towards technology, especially in Court. I have found this to be challenging to attorneys who are set in their ways and unwilling to adapt to a changing society.
How do you maintain civility in your practice during stressful situations?
For me, the key is to continue to show respect to each individual (whether client, opponent, attorney, or judge) you meet. Taking a day off occasionally to relax and spend time with family can help alleviate some of the stresses of our profession.
What long-term impacts will COVID-19 have on the legal profession?
I am an optimist. The long-term impact on the profession will be positive. We are seeing an expedited modernization of the state’s legal system. As an example, Zoom court hearings have already made Courts much more accessible to people. Justice will become more accessible. People in small towns and counties with fewer attorneys will be able to access lawyers from other parts of the state. Attorneys will also be able to attend hearings in multiple counties, throughout the state, within the same day.
How are you maintaining your work-life balance during the pandemic?
Working for myself has helped me focus on maintaining that balance, something that I would have been unable to do previously. I have found it easier to work efficiently from my office, away from home, as it allows me to concentrate on completing my tasks without interruption. Once I leave the office, I have made more of an effort to stay away from the computer. Whenever I am able to, I try to take a few hours (or even a day) off to help recharge.
Our Lawyer Spotlight recognizes attorneys throughout Illinois who are admired for their professionalism and civility. Check out more interviews with attorneys like Syed Ahmad here.