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Lawyers in lockdown, Pt 2 … There will be banter

16 April 2020

We asked lawyers around the country how they are getting on during the lockdown: what are they doing to cope with the lack of office working and dealing with technology at home. Here are a further two lawyers.

Anissa Bain, partner, Pitt & Moore, Nelson

How are you getting around the lack of face-to-face meetings, team meetings et al, and continuing (if you are) to work productively?

Anissa Bain
Anissa Bain

Anissa: For the first time in 25 years of practice I am at the mercy and will of a crippling wifi bandwidth, the never-ending chorus of neighbourhood power tools and a printer/scanner with a mind of its own.

The wisdom of retaining a work/life balance was front of mind for me, and thus I took to sectioning off a portion of our home as an office space. I’m sharing this space with my eldest daughter, whom I’ve adopted as a pseudo assistant-come-tea-maker.

I’ve observed the stark contrast in our working style – my daughter’s desk looks completely uninhabited and is totally digital, whereas I’m single-handedly keeping a small paper mill in business. We laugh as we navigate being in the background of each other’s calls, and I listen patiently while my daughter gives me unsolicited, buzzword-filled business advice that she has picked up in her rich tenure of two years since graduating.

How are you coping with technology?

Anissa: Modern day technology has made catching up with one’s colleagues a complete breeze – once we’ve got everyone connected to the video call, switched on everyone’s mic, switched off the mic with crying children in the background, found the source of buzzing feedback, figured out there is at least a three-second delay and delegated who gets to wield the talking stick – we’re good to go. I find I am having to rally against my own nature of wanting to chime in and thereby talk over others, generally disrupting the smooth running of the video conference.

As lunch rolls around, the wifi decides to take a hit so I venture upstairs to seek out Jonathan from IT, or as he’s more commonly known – my husband.

What’s the most intriguing thing you’ve learned about yourself during the lockdown so far?

Anissa: The afternoon is met with a pile of dictation to get through. I find myself in a vortex of Dennis Denuto from The Castle– aim to work as you usually would, I’ve been told.

It’s an ever-changing landscape and we’re all having to be flexible beyond what we would have ever imagined. There are parts of the day where I feel my battle is more against the Brother Home Series All-In-One printer/scanner than a global pandemic, but then I’m reminded of the resolve and resilience of my team. We are all in this together. My colleagues and family continually demonstrate to me that with good humour, patience and kindness we can navigate these unchartered waters. I am very grateful for my family, my colleagues and to live in New Zealand.

Gerard DeCourcy, partner, Downie Stewart, Dunedin

How are you getting around the lack of face-to-face meetings, team meetings et al, and continuing (if you are) to work productively?

Gerard DeCourcy
Gerard DeCourcy

Gerard: It is amazing how quickly you drop into a new routine. I tend to have a more relaxed start to the day and work slightly shorter hours fitting in a local run. There is no such thing as a weekend anymore so the trade-off is that I will do some work each day.

The phone doesn't ring as much and more work is done by email. Emails have kept arriving as most people are sitting in front of a computer with time on their hands.

How are you coping with technology?

Gerard: After some IT tweaks I now have everything on my laptop that is available to me sitting at my desk. There was initial work dealing with property confirmations and deferring settlements. The lockdown is producing some enquiries regarding leases and employment matters. We are trying to encourage our staff to ensure all their to-do lists are dealt with during this period.

We have all learnt Zoom technology in a hurry. I also lecture at the University of Otago so that has included recording lectures by Zoom and posting them on blackboard which is a resource and communication centre for students.

Friday 5 o'clock drinks is now undertaken through Zoom and is proving popular. A firm snapchat page allows a little more banter and for our staff to connect with each other.

What’s the most intriguing thing you’ve learned about yourself during the lockdown so far?

Gerard: The issue is not the period of lockdown but what business will look like in the next six months. That may be the challenge. I might stay at home!

Cats on a computer
…never work with animals


If you would like to tell other lawyers about how you are coping during lockdown please email your answers to the questions below at craig.stephen@lawsociety.org.nz. If you can take a photo of a pet at your desk, or make a quirky shot of your workstation/ home office that would be handy. Or you could just tell us a favourite album you play while working.

  • How are you getting round the lack of face-to-face meetings, team meetings et al, and continuing (if you are) to work productively?
  • How are you coping with technology?
  • What’s the most intriguing thing you’ve learned about yourself during the lockdown so far?
  • Any funny/quirky tales to tell?

Last updated on the 16th April 2020