2020 dimming the capital’s glow, JLD healthy drinking campaign and help needed: your letters to the editor

A year that changed everything

Having trained and qualified at an international firm, I considered London as the most important office and city. As with many big law firms, all the main departments were there; all the big events and meetings would take place there; and it was the centre of everything. The city that never sleeps was the main attraction and it was the symbol of the success, quality and prestige of some firms. For any junior lawyer or professional, the bright lights of the Big Smoke were attractive and almost a bucket-list experience. A city that offered everything under the sun – career, culture, opportunity and change.


The year that changed everything, 2020, has altered the dynamic of London and the regions. With working from home having become the norm, the city centre for many of us is a location now rarely visited. Our kitchens, dining tables, bedrooms and other well-lit spaces are the new office. In this new world post-Covid, we have learned to appreciate our surroundings, our work-life balance and our own wellbeing.


Many have re-evaluated motivations, goals and the direction of their careers. The lockdowns have been a great equaliser; our work routines and experience are now identical to our peers across the profession. The impressive city centre office with skyline views, fancy coffee and free meeting snacks is a distant memory.


Our relationship with work has changed dramatically, too. We are now taking wellbeing at work seriously, and have seen the benefits of agile working and working from home. Inadequate elements of big office life were previously something that many had no direct control over. Now, at home, we can take our own steps to make the changes that we want to see. Many are taking control of their lifestyles, where they live, how they interact with one another and their ultimate motivations.


The thought of getting an early packed train to the capital with tube journeys on top to the final destination is almost unthinkable. The cost and time it took to travel to client meetings and events now seem nonsensical. Moreover, the price for accommodation in London is notoriously high compared to other major cities across the country. Before Covid this was a small price to pay for the culture, hospitality, leisure and many other attractions of London. This attracted students, tourists, professionals and more. London was the shining centre of it all.


With the bright lights temporarily turned off, I think the glow of the capital has dimmed. The ability to work from anywhere has allowed us all to rethink where we would like to be and what we want in the future. I hope London, along with every other major city in our country, will revive and come back stronger than ever, but this period in our lives has given us all a unique perspective as to how we work and live.


Baljinder Singh Atwal, Chair, Birmingham Solicitors’ Group


No alcohol ban at JLD events

We write in response to Jemma Slingo’s recent interview with Georgia Dawson (Gazette, 22 February), which included a section on working practices and issues arising during lockdown.

We were disappointed to see that the article refers to the Junior Lawyers Division ‘banning’ alcohol at events as part of our healthy drinking campaign last January, which is not correct. In January 2020, the JLD launched a healthy drinking campaign to promote the importance of being mindful about the refreshments available at internal and external events to ensure they are inclusive of all. As part of this, we served a variety of non-alcoholic options at one of our dinners. At no stage has the JLD promoted banning drinking; instead, we want to ensure that all members of the profession have the option to consume alcohol or not at an event without feeling excluded.


We are sure that the authors and readers appreciate the importance of promoting healthy drinking attitudes at this time, particularly during the pandemic, and we are grateful to you for continuing to flag the guidance.


Separately, although we note that it is a commonly used phrase, we should also flag that the Junior Lawyers Division does not represent ‘young lawyers’ – we represent ‘junior lawyers’.


We have published a few articles (including in the Gazette) about the issues that arise when assuming that junior lawyers are ‘young’ in age, particularly as the average age of a newly qualified solicitor is now almost 30 years old.


I would invite readers to refer to our blog on this.


Junior Lawyers Division, London


Did you know this man?

I was recently in contact with Gazette news editor Michael Cross, who suggested I might contribute something to the letters page in relation to a book I’m writing.


I am compiling a history of the Dolphin Square apartments in Pimlico, scheduled for publication later in the year. During my research, I learned of the tragic death of solicitor Michael Shepley, who was discovered in his flat in the square in June 1975.


I wonder if any readers knew Mr Shepley either personally or professionally, or recall the circumstances of his death? If so, I would be very keen to speak to them (on or off the record). I can be contacted via email at daniel.m.smith@hotmail.co.uk or by phone at 07855 816693. 


Daniel Smith, London