Sandra Paul, Kingsley Napley, London
'I previously never availed myself of the strong agile working culture in my firm. Working from home is not as bad as I thought it would be and is something I will do more of post-lockdown. I have not quite cracked the discipline around start and finish times and at the weekend the keyboard calls to me to just "finish that job". However, having recently taken some time off, the improvement in my sleep, productivity and general happiness/positivity shows me that I need to get my act together and stick to a routine. A routine that now includes virtual Friday night DJ sets broadcast from a fellow partner’s garden shed!
As a criminal litigator, work continues but at a slightly different pace and in ways I had not anticipated. My week has included remote hearings in the magistrates’ court and crown court. I was really pleased I had a jacket to hand when a district judge randomly decided, without warning, that it was going to be 'cameras on' for the hearing; we need to agree a protocol for signalling cameras on or off!
We continue to protect our colleagues by persuading police officers that an interview really isn’t necessary at all or at this stage, or that it can be undertaken remotely or in writing. It feels like something is missing in this process and despite the successful outcomes, I am concerned about the compromises we are making and whether they will become the new norm. Not being in the same room as my client who is being interviewed just feels wrong and I have not quite got to the stage where I trust that, within an adversarial system, the police will not take advantage of my absence.
If I do not need to be there now, might the right to face-to-face representation be optional at some point in the future for more nefarious reasons? I am also concerned about the firms who are struggling at this time and that this lockdown will succeed in producing the cull that decimates access to criminal legal aid in a way that the corrosive and insidious cuts in funding over the last 20 years have failed to do.
But, on a more upbeat note, as we enter week five of WFH and an extension of the lockdown, I still see acts of random kindness in my team and firm that continue to make me think that this is going to be ok, eventually. Who knew that quiz rounds such as "whose desk is this?" would actually be fun (yes really!).'
Adam Kudryl, Harper James Solicitors, Birmingham
'This is without doubt the most challenging period that I’ve ever worked through.
My company promotes a remote-working model so, thankfully, I had a bit of head-start when it came to having to work from home.
I think the key factor has been trying to make things as "normal" for the clients we work for as possible. At a time when there is so much uncertainty and fear knowing that your legal services are there to support you and that we will be here for whatever our clients need is so vital.
It’s vital too to be open for business and to go after new work rather than be fearful of it.
Despite the turmoil I’ve already seen entrepreneurs who are willing to adapt and change to best get through this crisis. Investment is still going on and firms are willing to try and look forward and secure new business. Legal services remain critical to this and to getting deals over the line.
Nobody knows how long this lockdown will last. But the law firms who get through this lockdown best will the ones who are able to ensure business carries on as normal.'
Sheree Green, Greenchurch Legal Services, Staffordshire
'The team is as busy as ever, even in lockdown. Although there are frustrations, I try to remember to be thankful – that family, friends, colleagues and, until this week, clients are all safe and well.
Our work is 80% property and finance deputyship. We look after the funds of some 70 men, women and children, aged from 10 to 99 years. Many older clients live in care homes. Increasingly, we are being told of incidents of coronavirus, perhaps on a different floor, or another wing to our client. This week we had our first death. A lovely lady who had lived with dementia lost her life to Covid-19.
I believe we are key workers – ensuring clients have everything they need, and individuals and organisations who provide necessary services, care and support are paid promptly. A close-knit team, we are now working separately, in isolation. We miss each other, and we need to remember to stop and chat about work, how the home schooling is going, even who is cooking what for tea that evening. I particularly miss seeing clients – which is a timely reminder of why I chose to specialise in Court of Protection work.'
*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.