Lawyers in Lockdown

At the time of writing, it is the first week of August (what!?) and we are just about to be hit with another heatwave (apparently… but who knows when it comes to the British summertime).

2020 has been a bit of a blur for me. My husband and I spent just under 3 weeks travelling around Vietnam and Malaysia at the start of the year, always seeming to be one step ahead of Coronavirus as we moved around. We returned back to the UK without any issues and we were only back at work for a few weeks before going into lockdown. At the end of March, I found myself and a number of my colleagues were placed on furlough; a very unusual concept but I was quite happy to be doing my part for the firm to ensure we made it through the pandemic.

I was in a very unique situation. 2020 being my first year of marriage and the first year of living with another person; now being in lockdown with that person; and for want of a better phrase, having nothing to do but bake banana bread!

Fast forward those two months of baking and Netflix (and taking in a webinar or two), I was brought back to work in order to support my team – happy days! Having only officially qualified as a solicitor in August last year, I couldn’t wait to get back to work. So, in order avoid a nightmare working situation, my husband and I marked out our respective working environments and I got myself all set up with whatever equipment I needed (special thanks to my vanity table for converting into a very suitable desk).

Whilst Woodfines has always adopted a flexible working approach, allowing staff to work from home when necessary, I wanted to make sure I was efficient as possible. I have found that the key to getting the most out of the day is to set a schedule at the start of the day and try to keep to it. An average day for me looks something like this:

  • 7:00am wake up and carry out a few household chores
  • 8am – 9am log on to work, prepare a task list and schedule for the day
  • 1:00pm I’ll take a break, lunch or a walk with my husband (maybe even sneak in a workout session)
  • 5:30 – 6:30pm I log off work, prepare dinner and chill out for the evening

I have found working from home to be a welcome change; the commute is short and the hours are adaptable. Being in the litigation department, our work demands can change quite rapidly and being able to work from home has meant that, if something is particularly urgent, I can start work earlier / work later and not have to worry about what time I’ll be getting home.

We have also found new ways to support our clients; offering virtual ‘face to face’ meetings and last month, we were even able to conduct a directors interview under the Insolvency Act 1986 whilst maintaining social distancing (our clients attended using Skype!)

Covid-19 brought about a lot of changes to the law, so I was curious about the type of work that I would be dealing with upon my return. For example, commercial landlords will know that the government has introduced a moratorium on forfeiture of commercial leases for non-payment of rent. The moratorium was due to end on 30 June 2020 and this was extended until 30 September 2020. I have received many enquiries from our commercial landlord clients about what steps they can take to recover the rent whilst the moratorium is in place and to advise on forfeiture once the moratorium ends (fingers crossed this isn’t subject to a further extension).

I also received a number of enquiries that involved boundary disputes and I wonder if this can be attributed to more people spending time in their gardens as a result of working from home!

Sadly, a number of businesses will struggle to pay their rent or other debts as they fall due as a result of Covid-19 and the restrictions on their ability to trade. It is business as usual for our dispute resolution team and we continue to offer support and advice to both individuals and companies.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with your enquiries.

Stay safe

-Alev Tonks 

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