What has COVID-19 taught us about remote working as a lawyer?

July 14, 2020
Sarah Goulbourne


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There’s no doubt we’ll look back on 2020 as a watershed moment for remote working, particularly within professional services and law.

Every legal practitioner out there has been forced to rethink the way their services are delivered whilst striking a new balance between work and home life. Those that considered commuting to the office every day as a simple fact of life have now had a real chance to see the difference working remotely can make for both themselves and their families – and many will continue to demand better flexible options going forward.

Now, just as firms are beginning their transition back to the office, it’s a key moment to consider how remote working can continue to benefit lawyers and their clients in the long-term. Here are a few of my own observations…

1)  Exceptional service is possible from any location

Despite life being far from normal over the past four months, many senior lawyers quickly realised they can continue to grow their practice, connect with colleagues and offer the same (if not better) level of client service whilst working remotely. Even those that had never considered working from home as a viable possibility before have found themselves embracing new technologies and ways of working.

Of course, this is only possible with a solid digital infrastructure in place. Lawyers working remotely must be supported by cloud computing, effective communication tools and robust data security measures at all times. We know from experience that this requires ongoing investment and careful planning to ensure the right systems are in place to make remote working a success.

2)  100% remote is definitely too much for some

Whereas remote working offers far greater freedom and flexibility for senior lawyers, the pandemic has underlined the fact we are inherently social creatures that strive for face-to-face contact from time to time. There’s also a big difference between having the option to work from home two or three days per week and being obliged to do so all the time.

And whilst many of our lawyers often choose to work remotely, we’ve definitely missed our central office atmosphere, partner socials and breakfast clubs. These events give us all a chance to catch up with colleagues, build a stronger network and discuss things in and outside of work. A croissant or two doesn’t hurt either!

3)  Avoiding the daily commute is a huge benefit

I was quite amazed to find from a recent Lloyds study that the average working professional in the UK spends 492 days travelling to and from work over the course of their lifetime. The associated cost isn’t any better; people spend roughly £800 per year on commuting alone.

But the stats don’t tell the whole story. I’ve spoken to countless lawyers at gunnercooke that have finally been able to spend more time with their family, avoid unnecessary stress and design a better work-life balance simply by not having to commute into work five days a week. This quick video from Mel Kang, one of our Healthcare partners, sums it up rather nicely.

Now that every senior practitioner in the UK has a genuine experience of remote working under their belt, we can expect that many will be looking to cut down their commuting time and secure a more flexible way of working when making their next career move.

If you’re currently weighing up your options or looking for a more flexible way of managing your own legal practice, feel free to send me a message by email, LinkedIn or arrange a quick chat over the phone.


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