Tracey Quirk Explains How MSB Solicitors Worked During Lockdown

Adapting to the new normal has been difficult for many people. The social distancing, working from home, furlough scheme and redundancy has made 2020 one of the hardest years to survive from a professional viewpoint. That doesn’t take into account the personal tribulations many people have had to face.

Although, we’re now over half-way through the year, it’s helpful to look back and reflect on some of the experiences people in the legal sector have been through.

Tracey Quirk, Head of Residential Conveyancing at MSB Solicitors shared her firm’s experience during the Covid-19 pandemic with our sister publication Today’s Conveyancer. 

We wanted to share Tracey’s insight as it may resonate with some of our readers who faced similar situations whilst adapting to the changing Covid-19 working environment.

Tracey said:

“At MSB Solicitors, we are a firm with multiple disciplines including residential property and private client. When the pandemic took hold and then the subsequent lockdown occurred, our team naturally transitioned to working from home.

“With the reduced number of enquires and instructions coming in, we made the decision to utilize the job retention scheme, the furlough scheme as it is more commonly known, so we could preserve as many of our colleagues as we could. Those colleagues who weren’t furloughed adapted to working from home, although they missed the general camaraderie in the office, meaning morale was lower than usual.

“However, four months following lockdown and two months following the re-opening of the English property market, we have been able to bring back all of our furloughed colleagues. Everyone is now back in the office, observing social distancing guidelines, and PPE is readily available on everyone’s desk.

“Our working habits may have altered slightly, but we still continue to meet with clients face to face where needed, ensuring social distancing measures are in place. There is no pressure from us, and this is completely client led. If the client would rather not meet face to face, other arrangements can easily be made.

“Thankfully, since re-opening our office, our teams have been kept extremely busy. The residential property team have been inundated with enquiries and we’re back to working at pre-lockdown levels. This may have something to do with the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday announced by the Chancellor a few weeks ago. We’re unsure how long this surge in enquiries will last, as I imagine the initial excitement will begin to fizzle out, but we’ll continue doing what we do best until it does end.”

It seems that the legal sector has been enjoying a little bit of a step forward with regards to embracing technology and moving into the 21st Century recently.

HM Land Registry have announced they are going to accept eSignatures and there has been an amendment – albeit short-term – to the 1837 Wills Act enabling Wills that were witnessed via video link during the Covid-19 crisis to become valid.

Tracey admits that her team are predominantly paper-based. However, lockdown did give them food for thought and they’re now utilizing a system they had in place more effectively, which has resulted in them becoming “paper light’”.

She added:

“The residential team do struggle with the fact that the processes they complete are archaic and are more so paper based than electronic. However, the transition they’ve made using the system we already have in place does mean that they can potentially adapt a paper free environment. This could be extremely helpful if the UK went into another lockdown as a result of a second wave.”

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