There are many things that the Covid-19 pandemic has to answer for. Like any incurable optimist, I gravitate to finding the good in literally anything, and I will say that Covid has thrust much needed change onto the legal profession as a whole.
I work 100% remotely. I had to leave full time legal practice whilst I got hand surgery, then shoulder surgery, then another shoulder surgery (you get the idea), thanks to a health condition that I’ve recently discovered (I think the surgeries gave it away). I subsequently found myself doing a PhD (something i’ve always wanted to do, but also a way I could use my brain/skills in a way that didn’t require my heavy commute to work and back, long days and hard on this ol’ bod, leading to chronic pain etc etc. Not really super fun.
Covid made many people change the way they looked at work, productivity, time management and wellbeing. With lockdowns, waves and all sorts of things, we didn’t really have a choice.
To this day, some people still work either fully remote (which explains why many businesses are now leaving their office space – and the expense of them – behind) or partly remote, with a number of days working from home, the other from the office (mostly for client meetings and the like).
Following my dodgy bod and the additional medical expenses of said dodgy bod, I returned to legal practice in 2021 by opening up my own firm (which was more of a product of circumstance than a burning desire to open my own firm). After contracting for some time to other firms, I found one I really like and, well, I now work flexibly, part time and remotely for said firm and I’m happy.
Whilst some have come kicking and screaming down the path of change, some of it is quite healthy. Yes, there will be people out there that will disagree with me, and that’s absolutely OK. I think the success (or otherwise) of these changes depends upon the person. Me? Well, I personally and professionally thrive as an independent, quiet worker from my home office, and I can pick up my kids from school, I can make my copious amounts of really good coffee, have a sneaky toastie mid-morning if I forgot to eat breakfast whilst arguing about socks with my youngest boy.
It’s true flexibility. It doesn’t limit my productivity, quite the opposite. But I am also self-aware and self-driven. I appreciate not everyone is. Some people crave personal and physical interaction with their colleagues, some desire the quiet of their office space without feeling the guilt of closing their door (which some can feel is quite rude). It can be tough to run a healthy office space with varying personality types, naturally.
The important point is that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to working remotely or flexibly. It can be done, it just looks different for everyone, and that’s perfectly OK.
There are various change agent firms that are around (and even more in the works, I’m sure!) that are embracing a fully new way of providing legal services in a range of different delivery methods, including remote work, hybrid working environments and general flexibility. The opportunities are endless, for any size firm.
Don’t just take my word for it, check out these insights from my friend Emma Heuston of The Remote Expert and Katherine Thomas of Free Range Lawyers during their chat for the Centre for Legal Innovation at the College of Law.
If you work for a firm that doesn’t yet offer flexibility and warrants further discussion, there are some great inspirational words of many (throughout various mediums) that can give you some great data and help you build your case to bring to the powers that be in your firm and say “hey, this could really help boost our productivity/reduce costs etc etc etc”. Start the conversation. What do you have to lose? Showing initiative, being innovative, thinking about the bigger picture of the business – all great traits of any team member.