Next in the Gear up to Grow series, Industry leader and Managing Partner of MSB Solicitors, Emma Carey, shares her thoughts on lockdown and the impact on business.
On the 11th March, covid-19 was declared to be a pandemic – industry leaders across the world began to implement responses with no real precedent to guide us. From the outset it was clear to me that we must protect the staff. Within one-week all fee earning staff were working from home and support staff who could not carry out their role from home were furloughed. Meetings with clients transitioned to Zoom and Skype, and all court hearings were heard remotely.
As the crisis unfolded, it became clear that businesses everywhere would need to adapt to survive this new way of life. As a full-service law firm, the challenges across our departments were varied. Residential property was dictated by government guidelines and we have had to act fluidly as the rules change daily. The demands on family law have increased with the rise in reported domestic abuse during lockdown. We were determined for our family clients to know of our availability, particularly where those in abusive relationships are isolated from the news or their devices.
We commissioned a 120m media screen advert above St Johns Shopping Centre. Lockdown hasn’t hindered outcomes across the board and there have been considerable successes. Our Property Finance team successfully supported lender Redwood Bank to deliver a £3 million loan, having acted in over £8m worth of transactions in May alone, despite a significant drop in market activity as a result of Covid-19.I’ve always been an advocate of the freedoms home working can bring, particularly for those with childcare commitments.
Lockdown has, however, highlighted the necessity of the office and the reality of the limits to working from home in some areas. We have ten trainee solicitors. How can we nurture the skills growth of the future generation of lawyers without observation and shadowing? These are all things about which we will continue to develop understanding and aim to achieve a balance.The other crucial component to our functioning during lockdown was the recent investment in our technology, including the key hire of a CMS Developer to bolster our internal systems and IT team.
In January 2020, we were in the process of developing a new Environmental Policy with the view to becoming completely paperless. Lockdown has actually helped us achieve this quicker!Maintaining staff morale has also been key to surviving this period. Many of us have missed the upbeat atmosphere and camaraderie amongst our colleagues.
We’ve had Friday quizzes with cake deliveries as prizes and sent all of our support staff bouquets of flowers over the period to thank them for their hard work. It’s also not lost on me that some of the staff have experienced deep anxieties and sadness at home as a result of the pandemic.
I’ve ensured that I’ve checked in and Heads of Departments have checked in with their staff weekly, providing support where it’s needed. Several staff members had become mental health first aiders prior to lockdown and we’ve seen the benefit of it now more than ever.I would welcome conversations with other industry leaders to share best practice and advice for moving businesses forward through this new era of change.