Lawyers in Lockdown - Working from home as a trainee solicitor
Victoria Jackson, trainee in our corporate department and Emily Parry, paralegal on the final stages of completing her Graduate Diploma in Law describe their experience working from home and life in lockdown.
"As a trainee, working from home is something I have never done and is not really an option I would ever want to take, even in usual circumstances, because I learn from everyone I am physically around in the office - by way of sitting in on phone calls, meetings and the constant contact and ability to pop to my colleagues desk or partners office for reassurance or confirmation on work I am undertaking. I was most concerned about not having this facility by working from home. For the first week, I had this added worry that people would think I am not working because they can’t see me, so I felt under pressure to reply instantly to emails and not move from my laptop – what if I missed a call because I was making a cup of tea?! But, I was reminded that even in the office we are not at our desks all day, our engagement to work thrives off of social interaction with others and our day is broken up by those little tea breaks in the kitchen or a five minute catch up with our colleagues, so this pressure was quickly removed.
In fact, I am communicating even more with my team and the firm as a whole at home- just virtually! In addition, everyone is making a real effort to ensure no one feels alone and is 100% supported, which is made accessible with the use of Microsoft Teams! My virtual support is not, and does not, always mean work, but just a form of social interaction with someone…other than my brother!! I find if I am feeling unmotivated or lonely that I videocall my colleagues that I usually sit by in the office– we don’t actually talk, but I leave them on a videocall so I have their usual company and a bit of background noise - I cannot stress how much this has helped me!
I have really seen everyone at PDT come together to get through these unprecedented times to ensure that the same level of support, communication and work is upheld and continued. Whilst I miss normal life in the office, and I will never complain about walking in the rain to go into work again, I’m enjoying having a new office space daily! Today, I have found that two packs of toilet rolls next to each other double up as a great desk! My least favourite desk is whichever is closest to the fridge – I need to employ social distancing measures from that!"
"Working full time as a paralegal and studying part-time for my Graduate Diploma in Law can be stressful at the best of times. Balancing the busy days in the office with having to find the motivation to study in my spare time has always been a struggle for me, but the physical separation of working in an office and studying at home helps. In this “new normal” that we are all facing however the lack of this separation has made this balancing act an even more daunting task. The two parts of my life that used to be so separate have now been forced together. PDT have been excellent at equipping me with the tools I need to still be able to work efficiently whilst at home, and I must praise them for the speed in which this was achieved! At first, it was a little strange not seeing my colleagues every day, but catch-up calls help with this and now I have a routine, things have become much easier. At times it can be difficult to find the motivation to study for my final exams now that I am working from home and I am without a change of scenery, but I often think to myself “this is final hurdle” and somehow manage to power on.
COVID-19 has also changed the way in which I engage with the university, with my lectures and seminars being online, and I am left to my own devices even more so than usual. It is very unusual not being able to engage in discussions with peers and ask the questions that randomly pop into your head when you are running through tasks as a group. The silver lining to arise from this situation however was the news that my exams would now be online and open book! This would mean that I would no longer have to worry about waking up in the early hours of the morning panicking that I had not revised enough, or that I had not left enough time to make the 45 minute trip to university, or that somehow I had got the wrong date for my exam and missed it completely (as you can probably tell, I sometimes suffer from overthinking things!). Instead, I am now going to sit my exams in the comfort of my own home, in my own time, with my own revision notes to guide me. Granted, I still need to revise the topics and become confident in my understanding as there is less room for error in my answers now but in this time of uncertainty, it is comforting to know that the normal anxiety that surrounds exam season is that little bit easier to swallow."
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