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Diversion of Resource Covid 19 Response

Whist industry waits for the current crises to show signs of abating allowing the Government to reveal plans for relaxing the lock down and to take action, the property market remains very quiet for obvious reasons. Property departments, in law firms, have been the hardest hit in terms of new instructions for most law firms.

Most firms have progressed the property matters as far as they can be taken until the lockdown is released. This means that more of the property lawyers will face being furloughed or where they have work or other skills, reducing activity but they still need to service clients which will exclude them from the furlough rules but not fully utilised. Where the latter occurs, firms need to try and make use of the fee earners and staff and apply them to other areas of law.

Due to the nature of how Solicitors work and the training they receive, they will have practiced in other areas of law although it may not be their specialism.

Making the best of the resource that firms have will provide much needed assistance to ensure the continuity of the firm to see it through the current crises and beyond.

If firms have not already started to divert resources, the time to do so is now and this may even result in cross training and refresher training for those staff who have not handled other areas of law for a while.  To download a printable PDF version of this article, click on the link below:

The Strategic Partner - Diversion of Resource.

Areas which, at present, are showing continued engagement include:

  • Wills
  • Probate
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Matrimonial
  • Employment
  • Insolvency
  • Litigation

Each of these areas are relevant and needed services at the present time and many firms are reporting that new instructions continue to arise in these core areas

There are some key steps to consider:

1.       Identify – Establish with your fee earners what experience they have and even if limited that they are prepared to support other areas of the firm that are receiving incoming work. If you have fee earners that you cannot furlough as they have some work to do but not fully utilised  these are the ideal candidates for cross training or refresher training so you can make full use of the resource you have.

2.       Tasks – Not all tasks will be able to be completed by a fee earner who does not have experience to do so but preparation, taking instructions, drafting and generally assisting will be applicable. It is important to highlight tasks that can be performed by those which do not have the full experience and not to push staff to undertake tasks which could expose the firm to risk 

3.       Train – deliver training to those who require a refresh or ground up training. As necessary explain the basics of the service and the applicable law identifying common mistakes made which could put the firm at risk or negligence. For those with previous experience, ensure that new practices and changes in the law are brought up to date. Training can be provided via video conferencing, with most firms now having this in place. The training of anyone being asked or volunteering to assist in areas of law which are not their main experience are essential and will form part of the firms approach to risk management. Where possible, issue training note and handouts for future guidance and reference.

4.       Supervise – check your supervision processes and adapt them as needed. It may seem unusual to ask a more senior member of the team to be supervised, but it is essential to do so and not expose the firm to risk. Supervision, as always can be relaxed and the longer the current crises continues the more experience and confidence those moving into new roles will have and the supervisory tasks can be reconsidered. Ensure those staff with experience are made available as needed and where necessary ‘buddy’ people up for the provision of ongoing guidance and support.

5.       Audit – As matters are handled and depending on the length of the current crises, implementing auditing may be necessary to ensure that the high standards of work and advice are being maintained. It also acts as a precautionary measure that is a sensible addition to a firm’s compliance and risk management policy and strategy.

6.       Quality – It is essential that firms maintain quality throughout the lockdown. 

The implementation of effective training, supervision and auditing will help to ensure that the advice provided is correct and the service provided meets the expected high standards.

The development of staff is always to be encouraged and using available resource to upskill your staff should be considered a welcome step and part of a strategy to strengthen the firm for the future, while time allows.

Often, it is the case, that there is simply insufficient time or resource for new skills and experience to be gained outside of the direct areas of law that a Solicitor practices in. If this current crisis enables people to cross train and add to their skills sets, this could result in a positive arising from an otherwise very difficult time for firms and their staff.

For more information about The Strategic Partner and how we work with firms you can call us on 020 3911 9710, email us info@thestrategicpartner.co.uk or you can visit our website to complete a contact form https://www.thestrategicpartner.co.uk/Contact-Us.

We are working with law firms to support them through the Covid 19 crisis and beyond. If you would like to discuss issues that are confronting your firm a call with us is free and we hope will add value to your firm. You can also visit our Covid-19 Guidance for Law firms page 

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