Some of the things that I did this week
I don’t profess to be the greatest business leader in the legal market. However, I’m proud that I run a profitable and happy law firm. It’s because of this that I know we are going to be able to push through – whether it’s a month, three months of six months.
In hope that maybe some of these ideas might help others – and also because I’m driven nuts by boredom! – here are some of the things that I tried out this week
Different approaches to court
A lot of this week has been spent discussing and applying ideas to appear in court remotely. The Courts in Queensland have been accommodating and flexible and it’s clear that everyone is focused on ensuring the criminal justice system doesn’t halt to a screaming stop. Some of things that have happened this week:
- All conferences with clients were by telephone. I do most of my client contact by telephone/email so this wasn’t really a big shift for me.
- I undertook a full hand up committal via telephone with my client linked in separately using the “Chorus call” program of the Queensland courts.
- I participated in a group conference with child safety – again using Chorus call
- I did a videolink in to the prison using Webex, with a Chinese interpreter separately on my mobile using loudspeaker (NB: my ragdoll, Cleaver, gate crashed said video conference so I will have to prepare for that)
- I did two sentences via telephone. One was a straight forward fine matter and I made brief submissions on the basis of my client giving me signed instructions to deal with it ex parte. The other was a not so straight forward matter involving serious charges and a client appearing via videolink from the prison. Prior to the sentence, I sent through an outline of written submissions to the Magistrate (which is something I rarely do unless it is legally complicated). This ended up not working because of the phone system in the court room, and I had to madly dash over to court but it all worked out in the end
Drafted New Precedents
Having spent some time practising in the brave new world, I set about identifying what new precedents we would require. This included drafting an “Acknowledgment of Plea” form to forward to the courts and Police Prosecutions if we are seeking to deal with a matter ex parte. Most of the drafting was directed at correspondence to police, courts and clients, but it was a useful exercise to sit down, focus and review any applicable legislation/practice directions/similar precedents. We use Leap, which despite any other criticisms I may have, has excellent precedent functionality.
“Teams” app by Microsoft Office
Our firm already uses the Teams app on a day to day basis, but this week it has been pretty chatty. It’s great for sending messages to the entire group (noting we are a small firm, so we don’t have sub-teams) and for video conferencing. It allows you to share documents and integrates with other Microsoft software.
“Nickelback day” and “Wear Your Sports Gear” day
Our team is incredibly close – that’s a by product of having wonderful people that work at Fuller & White but also, I believe, a by product of the type of work that we do. Everyone needs an outlet because our work is stressful and sometimes its disturbing.
One of the things that I do at our weekly diary meeting is appoint a song or word of the week. It sounds dippy, and most of the time is thrown back at me sarcastically, but there have been times where it causes a genuine crack of a smile (cue Jay Z ’99 problems’ or Shakira ‘Waka Waka’). Anyway, on Wednesday we listened to like four hours of Nickelback together.
Two of our team are gutted about the cancellation of the AFL. Sarah goes to Lions games religiously and for me going to St Kilda matches involves travelling to see my family interstate (which is off the table for the foreseeable future). Everyone agreed to don some “sportsball stuff” and we spent the day videoconferencing each other. I wore my beanie whilst doing a sentence on the phone. It’s a small measure that created a bit of humour in stressful times and forced everyone to brush their hair.
This is my final tip. Use a day planner.
I use one intermittently – sometimes I’m too busy and caught up to do it
The challenges of working from home for me are that I get distracted and bored.
Setting a schedule and doing a list of what needs to be done keeps me on track. When I get to the end of my list, I know I’ve completed what is necessary for the day and I can do something else (like going for a run or facetiming my friends)
I hope these tips helped. Moreover, I hope everyone isn’t panicking and is making the best of this time.