Trainee blog - Caitlin O'Hare
One month in – trainee life on lockdown
As we left our office on 17th March, knowing that the next day we would begin working from home for the foreseeable future, each of us carrying essential items such as work laptops, textbooks and stationery, we wished our colleagues well and told each other we would see each other ‘on the other side’, and we headed home to set up our new work stations.
The coronavirus pandemic presents many new challenges to the world. We are in uncharted territory. Societies around the globe are quickly adapting to the measures introduced by their governments in the wake of the pandemic, with 20% of the global population now on lockdown. The realisation dawns on us all that this could be for a number of months.
Working from home
As trainees, we have not worked from home before. We are usually provided the comfort of supervision and a friendly ear in the office that we can approach and discuss cases with. With the current situation, we found ourselves uncertain about what will happen in the days ahead. Now that we are one month in – working in makeshift offices in the kitchen, dining room or living room – we can find solace in the fact that it is very much still business as usual.
All of our colleagues are on hand to help us. The most important thing is staying in regular contact. We have a video conference call with our team three times a week where we check up on one another, discuss cases and allocate work. These calls reassure us and let us know that there is still a wide range of work for us to get involved in and continue our learning. Staying in contact with senior members of staff is vitally important as we require their advice on a daily basis. Furthermore, our trainee WhatsApp group chat has been a great source of comfort, help and comedic relief during these unsettling times.
Tips from our trainees
I spoke with some of our trainees to find out how working from home on lockdown had been so far.
“The prospect of working from home was daunting at first. I had just moved into a new department and I was still trying to get to grips with everything. Despite my initial fears, my working from home experience has been positive. My colleagues have been really supportive and stayed in touch with me providing the same laughs as we would if we were in the office. My tip is to ask for help: even if you are working from home, your colleagues are still on the other end of the phone to talk through things with you.” Danielle, employment and commercial litigation team
“I believe working from home has proven to be a popular and successful concept. As a trainee solicitor I feel that my training has benefited from the exposure to a different working environment, especially given the popularity of agile-working across the legal profession. By offering us greater flexibility, our practice can also become more accessible to those facing barriers such as disabilities or caring responsibilities. My tip: maintain a regular line of contact with your colleagues.” Christopher, commercial litigation team
I, like many other first year trainees in Scotland, had applied for Early Admission as a Solicitor under the Admission as Solicitor (Scotland) Regulations 2019. I had been hoping that my first appearance would have been around about now and whilst it is disappointing that it may not be for some time – it may not even be whilst I am still a first year trainee – this is the time to really prepare for a first appearance and learn the rules and procedures.
Looking ahead and adapting
As many companies around the world are working to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus, law firms have been deemed by some to be in a better position than other businesses. We have the ability to keep on working with limited interruption. Whilst the courts may temporarily be closed/conducting limited, urgent business only, we are preparing for the workload when courts resume again and for the influx of litigation that will result from the coronavirus.
At the beginning of this year, we could not have fathomed what was ahead, but we are pressing on. We will continue to advance our clients’ cases and continue to have their best interests in mind at all times. This may be one of the toughest challenges of a generation, but we will get through it and come out of it more resilient. We hope that everyone stays safe during this time.
Caitlin O'Hare, general litigation team
15th April 2020