Returning to the Office
Back in the saddle again. It’s an old cowboy campfire song from the Wild West. Here, away from the high plains of Nevada, on the south side of Glasgow and in Lanarkshire, it means something different, at least to one local law firm.
Austin Lafferty Solicitors is now more or less as open for business as we were before the pandemic. Nothing is ever exactly the same in the New Normal, but at least we can now with confidence all turn up at the office. Counters and plastic screens have been installed, supplies of PPE and infrared thermometers brought in, and bottle after bottle of sanitiser laid out. Strict procedures are established and a risk assessment done.
Not that we had been unavailable. As you may have read in previous blogs and publications (including signs on our branch front doors as you walked by) the firm has continued to offer our full range of legal services from the beginning of lock down to its easing. Using IT, remote video and audio call procedures, staff being flexible and innovative, we have never left the scene. Wills, property transactions, powers of attorney, deceased estates, family law cases and all the rest have continued. This was helped by a few developments in law and procedure organised by the authorities, not the least of which was the change to allow us to witness client signatures by video instead of at an actual meeting over a desk in a small room.
The lock down has been unpleasant, worrying for everyone, and tragic for some. Economic disaster faces many. Individual colleagues in this firm have had their share of the personal and family burden. But all of our people have stepped up to the mark, and kept practice going for our clients. Home working has been a key factor in that, and we have all grown into this unusual and challenging method. I established what I called The Shed of Justice – i.e. my home garage kitted out with a PC, scanner and printer, plus essential internet connection. It worked a treat. Over time, as things have got less extreme, many of the staff have been able to come back to do part of their job in the office – with staggered starts, social distancing in the branches, and choosing days when there would be space to sit at the accustomed desk and not be at risk. All these and more have allowed a semblance of normality to re-emerge.
But now, the icing on the cake – bit of a mixed metaphor from the cowboy image – is our acrylic see-through screens. They are not a panacea, and we still need to stick to those disciplines of distance, disinfectant and detergent. But at least we can sit in the same office getting the job done. Also – again if properly arranged – there is scope for meetings with clients, in person.