Some of the headlines were a little… apocalyptic? ‘Solicitors flee fire’, claimed one reputable publication; ‘Law Society’s historic HQ “gutted”’, said another. And certainly the scene over Saturday night looked dramatic enough, with 150 firefighters and 25 appliances (plus a Salvation Army canteen) mobilising to tackle the blaze in the Law Society’s offices in 114 Chancery Lane. The pictures apparently made the TV news in Dublin and Zurich, as well as the UK.
However, thanks to that mobilisation, and the calm response of Society staff, the blaze was restricted to upstairs offices and the historic premises at 113 Chancery Lane were left unscathed. Most importantly, no one was hurt.
Alas one of the areas to suffer most was the Gazette’s own office, which is now uninhabitable. Following a disaster recovery routine last tested in the great Kingsway fire of 2015, we were up and running in a local Pret by 8.30 on Monday, moving on to licensed premises after the daily newsletter was away.
The nicest aspect to the day was getting many messages of support from friends and rivals alike, including numerous offers of temporary office accommodation. We’re now sorted, thanks, but we won’t forget the kind words.
Oh, and although the cause of the fire is still under investigation, we can knock one rumour on the head. Even though the fire coincided with the Junior Lawyers Division dinner, held the day after the end of the division’s ‘dry January’, our spy tells us that alcohol was not served.