Meeting our clients’ changing needs in a post-pandemic world
One year on from the start of the first Covid-19 lockdown, Peter Lamble, Chairman of Coodes Solicitors, says the firm is better placed than ever to meet its clients’ changing needs.
Almost exactly a year ago, the Prime Minister stepped out in front of the TV cameras to announce that the country was going into lockdown. As we quickly moved almost all of our staff out of our offices, I don’t think any of us would have guessed that we would be in this position 12 months on.
The two subsequent lockdowns and changing restrictions over the year have presented our clients and staff with a whole range of different challenges. Despite the shock of the first lockdown and the difficulties we have all faced since, Coodes has retained a strong sense of optimism for the future. We firmly believe that the changes we have made will position us well for the years ahead.
The pandemic has accelerated many of the changes the firm was already starting to make. It has forced us to build on our existing technological advances and our interest in agile working.
As we start on the road to recovery, we are focused on ensuring we carry forward the best of what we have learned over the last 12 months to continue to meet our clients’ changing needs.
Giving you access to the best legal minds
Perhaps the most significant change we have faced as a firm has been the move to remote working. The vast majority of our staff have been working from home over the last 12 months. Our HR Manager Becky Hosken discussed this in a recent article. In the coming weeks we will be asking our staff how they would prefer to work in the future. We suspect there will be a mixed response and we aim to cater for this as much as possible. We aim to create our version of agile working.
While this is important for our staff, it will benefit our clients too.
To offer the highest quality service, we need to have the best lawyers. Giving people a choice of where and when they work – as far as we can – will help us to achieve that. We have always worked really hard to ensure that we provide our staff with a good work life balance, as well as being a supportive employer and the pandemic has given us the opportunity to meet new expectations around this. Continuing this approach will help us attract the very best legal talent. It will also help us keep those people when they need their careers to fit around their changing lives.
Agile working also removes some of the geographical barriers we have previously faced. If people do not need to commute each day to a particular office, that significantly widens the net in terms of who we can attract.
An important focus for us over the last 12 months has been supporting our team members to stay well. The pandemic has added considerable pressure on everyone, which has impacted on our health and wellbeing. Our priority has been protecting our staff member’s health, which means being Covid secure, but is also about providing support on mental health. We have been working hard to provide people with mindfulness resources and ensuring we have been putting resources in place to help individuals with particular challenges.
Again, while this is important for our staff, it also helps our clients. After all, having a healthy and happy workforce means we are better placed to offer the highest quality legal advice.
Communicating in your preferred way
The pandemic has completely catapulted us into a new way of working and we have been using video conferencing and other digital technology to communicate with clients over the last year.
When the first restrictions were put in place, Coodes was in a better position than many businesses because we had recently invested heavily in our IT and telecommunications infrastructure. This was a huge help when we had to quickly move to homeworking. The IT systems we have in place have enabled us to communicate really well with clients.
Having said that, however much you automate your processes, nothing will ever completely replace face to face communication. When restrictions allow, we’d like to see our lawyers once again going out to meet our clients, getting to know them and their businesses.
It’s about understanding what clients want, which means offering choice. Looking ahead, we foresee ourselves offering a range of options, including video calls, face to face meetings and communicating via email or phone.
Reducing paper and going electronic
The pandemic has forced the entire legal profession to adapt and this has included moving from paper to digital. Wet signatures are no longer needed for many contracts and Wills have been witnessed remotely via video conferring.
Where possible, I see this approach sticking. Not only is it far better for the environment but it’s also much more convenient for our clients, and avoids delays
Offering a broader range of legal advice
One of the changes resulting from the pandemic has been the high proportion of people who have chosen to move and change their lifestyles. The South West has always been a desirable location but the number of people relocating to the region has been concentrated in the last year. Coodes is adapting to meet the needs of our changing communities and businesses.
Much of our Business Service’s team focus over the last year has been on helping our clients overcome new challenges posed by the pandemic. As a result, we have grown our expertise and the range of advice we offer. And this will continue. For example, our Commercial Property team has traditionally been busy helping clients on the acquisition and disposal of commercial property. With changes on our high streets and talk of business’ overhauling their property needs, they are now supporting clients through a whole host of different challenges. As a result, we are offering a broader range of expertise and advice.
Maintaining our commitment to South West communities
While the move to agile working has removed many of the geographical barriers we face, we remain 100 percent committed to the region. We are, and always will be, very much a part of our South West communities. We have always prided ourselves on our local knowledge and that remains as important as ever.
How we work in those towns across Cornwall and Devon is something we are considering. That is about ensuring our work spaces are fit for the new ways in which our staff want to work and the changing ways we interact with our clients.
Much has changed over the last 12 months and our challenge is to hold onto the positive progress we have made. Some things remain the same: our commitment to the region, our staff and our clients.
For any legal advice, contact our Business Services team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0800 328 3282.