The legal profession will never be the same again – How North Wales law firm emerged from lockdown
THE legal profession will never be the same again.
That is the view of partners at Edward Hughes Solicitors, which has offices in Rhyl and Colwyn Bay.
As businesses continue to emerge from lockdown and rebuild for the future, the law sector is no different, but unlike many industries work carried on behind closed doors as solicitors continued to manage clients and caseloads remotely and from home.
Courts and police stations have reopened slowly with safety restrictions in place, and Edward Hughes – which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary – has also introduced social distancing measures at its two sites.
David Jones, a senior partner and Civil Litigation Solicitor with the firm, said there had been a demand for will writing during the pandemic, but being in lockdown meant they were unable to witness and sign off the paperwork.
Meanwhile, conveyancing slowed down as estate agents were unable to carry out viewings and home visits; as the housing market begins to see green shoots of recovery, he expects that side of the business to pick up in the weeks ahead.
“We reopened in Rhyl and Colwyn Bay in July, and things are slowly getting back to the way they were, but as is the case with many industries, the legal profession will never be the same again,” said Mr Jones.
“The offices are the biggest change, and while we miss the social interaction we have been able to keep things going via technology, online video conferencing and even by using police station teleconferencing to interview clients.
“Often we would have had a call in the middle of the night to attend, but now it’s a matter of logging in to the police system and being present remotely during the interview, which will be continuing in the short term and has worked quite well as you can still give the advice needed.”
As Edward Hughes prepares to unveil new branding and LLP (Limited Liability Partnership) status, managing partner Richard Johnson revealed how they are adapting to the ‘new normal’.
“We have introduced social distancing measures at both offices; there are sanitiser stations, all staff are temperature checked before they enter the building and we have installed protective screens so a limited number of meetings can take place face to face,” he said.
“A lot of people still want that personal touch, and it means we can witness legal agreements and wills, which is important.”
Mr Johnson added: “The rebrand and lessons learned during the Coronavirus lockdown will give us a fresh start. We have had the opportunity to reflect on what we do, and as a result we will be even more efficient.
“I think everyone has taken a step back and re-evaluated their approach, which is one of the positives to come from this.
“The 9am-5pm traditional office hours have gone, and they will never come back. Attitudes have changed and people will be more flexible – we have to embrace it and learn from the challenges of this year.”