So much has happened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that it can sometimes be hard to appreciate just how much has changed – and how disruptive the first lockdown was.
The first episode introduces a range of colleagues at Clifford Chance, from Trainee Solicitors who joined in the summer of 2020 through to a Senior Associate who began their career in 2009. They each talk about where they were in December 2019 and relive that first summer of lockdowns – and how the law firm responded.
For example, at the start of 2020, Associate Mehjabin Ahmed flew to Singapore for her third seat and realised things were very different from the UK. The office worked in tag teams, with teams working from the office on alternate weeks, before a lockdown was announced.
The experience of Clifford Chance colleagues in Asia was a warning sign, which gave European offices the chance to prepare colleagues for an impending lockdown.
Partner Charlotte Madden was a Senior Associate at the time and recalled how, by the start of March (and before the lockdown) her office had been split into tag teams and everyone tried working from home one day. Her trial day was a Friday and two days later she got a text asking her to stay working from home if she possibly could. Shortly after, the office shut.
Working from home meant a real shift in the way Clifford Chance operated. Different people experience different challenges, particularly parents with young children at home who could no longer attend school. Trainee Solicitor Amelia Chammas, for example, was doing the LPC while her husband worked full-time, when her daughter’s nursery shut down. Saif Jalali recalls how the firm checked in with him during his chaotic LPC to make sure he was supported.
As the teams began to establish a new normal and maintain services, legal tech became more important than ever before. Mehjabin talks about how a bot she coded managed to streamline a process and save hours of work, and has been rolled out across Asia.
Watch part one of the series below to see how Clifford Chance coped with the ongoing challenges in the early days of the pandemic. See how the firm responded to the Black Lives Matter movement, and hear from colleagues on how it’s taking a holistic view of diversity and inclusion through programmes such as reverse mentoring.
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