Firms respond to Covid-19
By Nicola Laver
The Covid-19 situation is fast-moving and law firms have begun to respond with drastic measures to continue effectively servicing their clients. Remote working is quickly becoming the new norm but firms face the challenges of balancing that reality with managing clients’ expectations. The pandemic presents challenges across all sectors and practice areas. At Kingsley Napley, almost all its staff are now working remotely. In a digital open letter, the firm’s managing partner Linda Wooley and senior partner Stephen Parkinson said all staff are contactable; and though its office remains open, it is “keeping face-to-face business critical meetings to a minimum”.
Where meetings are necessary, they said: “We are observing social distancing guidelines.” Ashfords has set up a cross-disciplinary team to support clients tackling the many challenges presented by Covid-19 and admits it has been “looking to find new workable solutions we can put in place to support both our staff and everybody we work with”. The Covid-19 team includes specialist lawyers in areas such as employment, corporate and commercial, litigation, data protection, insolvency and restructuring, real estate, private wealth and construction. Andrew Perkins, a commercial disputes partner, is project-leading the team. He commented: “Ashfords is already seeing a very significant flow of enquiries stemming from the outbreak covering a whole range of legal issues and that seems certain to increase over the coming weeks.” He said the Covid-19 team was formed “to identify legal issues that are becoming more relevant and causing concern to our clients so that we can share our expertise and provide them with practical and legal solutions to help them navigate this situation”. Smaller firms are able to be more flexible – and faster – when urgent change is required.
Flexible working and home working policies established since its inception have been a key factor for Thrive Law in Leeds. Managing director Jodie Hill said most of its seven staff were already working from home. She commented: “The transition hasn’t been too daunting for me as I have always had these measures set in place.” Team meetings are now being held online at least once a day; and she is making individual calls with each staff member “to ensure their needs are being met and they are able to work from home comfortably and productively, while monitoring their output”. Hill commented that she has seen her team thrive, adding: “While a lot of the work is unpaid we have the skills to support those less fortunate and to change the way the public think about solicitors being really expensive and inaccessible.”