Lawyers Weekly 5 October 2022
Two principals have shared how their firms have responded to the coronavirus crisis and how the impact of the pandemic will shape the legal profession going forward.
On Friday, 19 June, Lawyers Weekly, in partnership with My Business, sent out the second COVID-19 Business Confidence Survey to measure how individuals, businesses and communities continue to adapt to the evolving landscape. The findings of the first survey can be found here.
In response to the send-out, two principals got in touch with Lawyers Weekly to weigh in on the short and long-term impacts of the pandemic.
Tony Anamourlis, principal, Abbott & Mourly, said his firm’s model has been structured to be automated, seeing staff operate in a business-as-usual fashion throughout the pandemic.
“... The COVID environment has not distracted us. In fact our productivity has increased by working through home. You don’t need to travel to see clients. We confer with our clients via Zoom conferencing,” Mr Anamourlis explained.
On what’s likely to eventuate, Mr Anamourlis said: “You will see in future that the [intermediate-sized] and perhaps the bigger firms will eventually split themselves into hubs and each division will have the option of working through home and the office giving balanced work style life.” This, in turn, will keep family units happy, he noted.
“I am also of the view that the legal industry [is] changing and the way things are done and in fact you will see in time that our judicial system will streamline hearings via online secured court platforms which will make it much more simple with the right mechanisms and protocols in place to hear and determine matters which will eventually alleviate the [backlog] of cases. However, that will take some time to implement,” Mr Anamourlis added.
Meanwhile, Luke Giribon, principal at Calvados + Woolf Lawyers, said his firm decided early on in the pandemic that all staff, unless unwell, should work from the office and not remotely. The decision was made after a brief remote working trial, he explained.
“In any case, given that at the time especially, all shops and other social activities were closed or non-existent, it would have been pointless working remotely as all our staff merely travelled to and from work from their homes without any stops in between and therefore completely minimised their chances of infections,” Mr Giribon said.
“Further we found that operating a small/[medium-sized] practice remotely (we tried for a few days) was in fact less efficient, more stressful in terms of timelines and resources and reduced unacceptably the service levels our clients expected.”
In terms of COVID-19 measures to assist clients, Mr Giribon noted Calvados + Woolf suspended aged debtors collections “but continued to progress matters as per normal”. This helped ensure clients were not disadvantaged and did not feel under pressure in terms of having to settle invoices within the usual seven days.
“We are now ‘delicately’ again commencing the process [of reminding] clients of their outstanding invoices,” he added.
“This approach has worked for us and we have not reduced staff hours (or staff), which in the end is the important part.”