"Break the neck of the day's work before breakfast"

The reality for me is that there is no discernible difference between now and before the lock-down edict was issued. I have happily worked from home for many years even with 5 young children on board and dealing with a very busy legal practice.

Fortunately, my work is conducive to working from home whether I am writing to a deadline, working on a contract or turning around a libel read. I try to emulate Sir Walter Scott's habit: 'to break the neck of the day's work before breakfast'.

The new challenge is to find ways to stay alert, fit and good-natured. We're lucky to have moved by the sea, to Eastbourne. Long walks with my wife have been a life-long salvation and Eastbourne, being next to the South Downs, is a great place to live if walking is your daily habit.

My clients, likewise, seem unaffected, except they are unusually quiet which indicates they are quite rightly focusing on really important matters like staying sane and keeping the kids occupied.

For those lawyers whose practice is intrinsically connected to what we now call 'social gatherings' such as court hearings, meetings and face-to-face mediations professional life will seem very different and challenging. Being under virtual house arrest must be tortuous to many, for others, a privilege.

For those born into an internet-based, phone-obsessed world working from home may seem a blessing, particularly if the absence of the daily commute brings home the advantages of self-isolation. Either way I can only suggest: ‘stay strong; play scrabble’.

We can only hope that this (relatively) short-term cultural change will have long-term positive benefits. Yes, the economic consequences will be dire and long felt. But maybe, just maybe, we will all – lawyers included, come out of this as ‘better’ people.

I will be on my doorstep at 8 p.m. this Thursday applauding those who put their lives at risk helping others (including one of my sons who is a junior doctor in Bristol). It’s a surreal community event, quickly morphing into a weekly ritual which lifts the spirits.

We often hear variations of the expression, ‘we’re all in this together’, a sentiment best expressed by the writer G. K. Chesterton who my father was fond of quoting:

“We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty.”

Adrian is the author of  The Media and Business Contracts Handbook,Contract and Copyright Drafting Skills,The A-Z of Contract Clauses,The Complete A-Z of Contract Clauses Pack

Written by Adrian Laing

Adrian C. Laing was called to the Bar in 1979, is a Barrister of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple and was enrolled as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court in 2003. Adrian Laing first practised as a Tenant in Chambers (2 Pump Court) and then embarked upon a career as a commercial lawyer and consultant working for the IBA (later the ITC) as the Assistant Head of Licensing during the Channel 3 franchise round. Subsequent appointments included: Consultant to the Chief Executive of Thames Television plc; Senior Broadcasting Lawyer at Hammonds, Solicitors; Director of Legal Affairs and Company Secretary to Harper Collins Publishers; Company Director Harper Collins (India) and Proprietor, Laing & Co (2004 to 2015). Adrian currently acts as a private consultant and lawyer to a number of companies and organisations in addition to being a director of a film production company.

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