The majority of articles I read on the corona virus are written to promote a particular agenda, buy gold or another specified service, they paint an overly bleak or rosy picture and distort reality to serve their purpose.
The following is a brief (and hopefully balanced) assessment of where the business of hiring lawyers stands as or March 19th, 2020 in the London market:
1.It has had an immediate impact on all ongoing searches in one form or another, no one is taking a “business as usual” approach to any form of office work.
2. Some searches have been “paused” others are running full steam ahead over video conference.
3. Healthy and safety are paramount to recruitment as far as everyone is concerned, social distancing means video conferences are now standard practice for conducting interviews.
4. Every law firm and corporate business I have spoken to this week is still operational with staff working remotely, new hires still have work to do and, in many cases, a more gradual introduction to the business and legal work when they join.
5. “Big Law” is well placed to weather medium term financial chaos; however, some areas of practice and business sectors are going to suffer, badly. Practice areas such as restructuring, employment and bankruptcy will likely pick up over the coming months as the full economic fallout becomes clearer.
6. Some businesses will collapse, others will thrive. If the wheels of commerce are moving, even slowly, there will be a need for legal counsel.
7. Seeing people in survival mode is scary, words like “lockdown” trigger primitive fear responses in us all. The natural instinct to withdraw and retreat has to be tempered by rationality and in the legal and professional services space, for the moment, cooler heads are thankfully prevailing.
8. Nobody knows the effect this virus will have on the economy or health of our population. Even if business resumed as normal right now there would have been a huge disruption leaving many people and businesses unable to meet their financial obligations. The longer it lasts the greater the weight of the disruption on all professionals including lawyers.
9. Too many predictions are being made; ranging from working from home becoming the new de facto standard to prospective end dates for the virus. Like financial markets humans hate uncertainty, uncertainty however is the new normal, we must adapt.
10. Business and the law will continue. This is an impermanent state, it is an exceptional event in all of our lifetimes. All we can do is choose how we want to approach the uncertainty and thankfully good nature and collective spirit for the most part are the way we are coping.