Christopher Stanley, KRW LAW, south east London
'I am a litigation consultant with KRW LAW LLP in Belfast. I am at home in south east London and therefore the telephone and email are to the fore. The crisis has, as others have noted, raised concerns about civil liberties and human rights and I am following organisations such as Liberty and AI and their briefings. Specifically, and this has been a long time interest of mine, having worked as a lawyer with those in immigration detention, the plight of those who are detained who either cannot be removed or are at heightened risk: the Home Office should not oppose bail to this group of people.
I am working on some long-term litigation strategy projects which have been on the back-burner or on my to-do list for a while. As I work primarily on conflict-related legacy litigation relating to Northern Ireland this includes drafting complex pleadings on collusion as an administrative state practice. I have also been asked by the Gazette to review a new treaties on the law and the use of lethal force. I am also writing a piece in response to the Policy Exchange Judicial Power Project questioning its fears about an apparent constitutional crisis after Brexit and the Gina Miller litigation.
To the fore of my thoughts has been my colleague Niall Murphy, one of our partners at KRW LAW LLP. Until last weekend he was in an induced coma and on a ventilator in Antrim, Northern Ireland, having contracted the Covid-19 virus. He is one of Ireland’s leading human rights and criminal defence lawyers and was a Times Lawyer of the Week last year. Messages of support came from Northern Ireland, Ireland, England and the USA. The video of him being wheeled out of ICU was great and affirming. He is out of the forest but not yet out of the woods. When it is "one of your own" – as a friend and colleague – it brings it all the more closer.'
Koser Shaheen, chair of the Law Society’s ethnic minority lawyers division
'The global COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the professional and personal lives of every single solicitor. As chair of the ethnic minority lawyers division (EMLD) and council member for the ethnic minorities constituency, my focus and thoughts turn to the distressing reports that, at the time of writing, 34.5% of critically ill UK patients are from BAME backgrounds. Sadly also, a third of all deaths, including 70% of medics, are from BAME households. The government has confirmed an inquiry into these reports.
Criminal duty solicitors are sharing their concerns about working in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Sole practitioners and high street firms are fearful of the impact of the pandemic on not only their livelihoods but their mental health. To assist solicitors during this difficult time, I was comforted by the launch of the Solicitors' Charity personal hardship fund to support solicitors.
However, it is not all is doom and gloom. I have been overwhelmed by the humanity and kindness shown by people from all our communities, coming together to fight this pandemic. On a personal note, dusting off my sewing machine, I signed up For The Love Of Scrubs - Our NHS Needs You, and have completed my first set of 7 scrubs for my local hospitals. We are all in this together and I believe we will come out of this terrible ordeal as better people, with more tolerance and appreciation for all, regardless of race, colour, ethnicity or background.'
Kieran Bowe, member of the Law Society’s wills and equity committee, Russell-Cooke
'Like many families we are juggling two jobs, home schooling and looking after two young children - none of us could have imagined lockdown could be so busy.
My wife and I are keeping on top of our work and home-schooling but the house could really do with a tidy and the garden is littered with more plastic toys than the local preschool.
I have learnt my children instinctively know when it is my turn to lead on a Zoom call. If this continues, fixing breakfast whilst hands free must be a mandatory skill on the SQE.
What is reassuring is that we are all in this together; my experience has been clients do understand when the kids burst into the office during a video call to tell me DINNERS READY! To my pleasant surprise clients often want to say hello and start a conversation, my 6 and 2-year-old are doing wonders for client retention.
As a private client solicitor I cannot recall a time when we have been busier but I am extremely fortunate to be supported by a brilliant team - thank you guys for your heroic efforts.
When we come out of this, what I look forward to most is sharing a delicious meal and drink in the company of wider family, friends and colleagues but until then I will raise a glass this evening to each and every one of us. Stay safe and stay well!'
*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.