Athalie Matthews, Farrer & Co, Lincolnshire
'I am working from home in the Lincolnshire countryside where the broadband connection is thankfully as strong as the local community. Thanks to a recent firm-wide IT upgrade which replaced desktop computers with laptops, I can operate as usual despite being geographically closer to the wilds of Norfolk than I am to our offices in Holborn.
This is just as well given these are fascinating times for a reputation management and privacy lawyer. Since ‘lockdown’ began, not a day has passed without someone in high office being felled by hypocrisy – while others have become overnight heroes for acting with breath-taking selflessness and bravery. Never has ‘doing the right thing’ mattered more for companies or for people, whether that means furloughing workers, providing PPE or not going to your second home when you’ve just told everyone else to stay put.
Privacy and civil liberties have also come to the fore to jostle with the new coronavirus legislation which, while designed to protect us, has arguably been misapplied in some contexts, leaving some police forces with egg on their face (even if there are none in the supermarkets). The drones don’t seem to have made it to Lincolnshire yet, but with lockdown set to continue for weeks, I am watching the skies closely.'
Lucy Thomas, Collingbourne Hennah Law, Newport
'During these unprecedented times, Collingbourne Hennah Law felt incredibly strongly about doing something to help people on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw Matt Lucas and LEON Restaurants’ campaign to #FeedNHS and felt compelled to join the cause.
We thought about what we could offer to help and decided to run a free will writing service to the general public, with 100% of proceeds going directly to the campaign. #FeedNHS aims to provide hot and nutritious meals to critical care NHS staff nationwide onsite at the hospitals. This is all done with the partnership of local restaurants who have also been affected by the crisis. The money that is raised will fund these restaurants to cook and provide the hot meals and aims to raise around £1,000,000 to sustain this for the foreseeable future. They have already hit 105% of their target and we want to go above and beyond to make sure it is continued!
We will do all the work for free but ask that a minimum donation of £50 go towards the fund, which will go via ourselves. Help us to help the NHS!'
Professor Michael Draper, Swansea University, Swansea
'I am based in the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law at Swansea University and am a member of three Law Society Committees, namely the Wales committee, conveyancing and land law committee and the education and training Committee. The UK HE and legal sectors have global reputations for excellence and the immediate challenge has been to support the continuation of service to our students and clients whilst maintaining viable businesses through enlightened leadership, the spirit of good faith and innovation.
Whilst we have offered for some time blended delivery against an authentic syllabus and cutting edge programmes in legal tech the move to fully online teaching has required a collective effort that has brought out the best in collaborative working, and a not insignificant amount of humour, to ensure the continuity of excellence in student experience and to develop fair and robust online assessments of learning outcomes. As with many other organisations Zoom (inspired by Fat Larry’s band?) has almost overnight become the go-to platform to help support this continuity.
Meanwhile, the Law Society committees and the colleagues that support them have similarly been working extraordinary hours, and to borrow a phrase, ‘at pace’ to develop effective guidance and support to members in times that are recognised as even more challenging than the 2008 global financial crash.
The experience has been humbling, particularly when entire weekends are given over to this work by colleagues who are endeavouring to do their very best to help and support members.
Crucial now is our compassion and how we support those who are vulnerable. We have reimagined the idea of community, shared experience and identity – daily simple acts of kindness and quiet decency are common place alongside the courage shown by the few in our caring professions and families whose loved ones have passed on in sometimes unimaginable circumstances and those that have been significantly impacted by this pandemic, both physically and mentally.
Thoughts are things and energy follows thought. Good intentions and goodwill matter. A prayer I turn to regularly is Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. A Sanskrit mantra which means:
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
Let’s not forget but ensure that we forgive shortcomings as we move towards that which becomes the new normal.'
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.