Lessons for lawyers working from home Pt.2

April 13, 2020

In an unprecedented climate of uncertainty, new best practices are emerging.  In this bi-weekly series, we will highlight tips that lawyers can use to successfully work from home with a strategy in mind to maximise potential during this period. 

This post is focused on an in-house lawyer’s perspective, but could also apply to law firm Associates.

Think About Ways You Can Contribute

Certain in-house legal teams (compliance and regulatory, labor and employment, and some transactional lawyers) have been swamped in the past two weeks, while other teams are slow. As an in-house lawyer, and therefore a cost to the business, consider how you could pitch in during times of crisis management where you are not immediately busy. 

If your workload has lessened, you have opportunities to contribute, either to your colleagues on the Legal team, or direct to the business.

For example:

  • Keep abreast of changing COVID-19 legislation and offer to draft a regular alert summarizing the latest changes, targeted to their effects on your Company’s specific business
  • Check in with members of the business and operational teams around your level – find out how they are doing and if there’s anything the Legal department could do to support them
  • Begin to familiarise yourself with a new practice area aligned to COVID-19 concerns (labor and employment, bankruptcy, insurance coverage, etc).  If you become a “go-to” person on specific topics, you will always be a trusted advisor to the business

Be as proactive and creative as possible.  Adding value in this way is key to your continuing success within the Company, and also provides great examples of how you can contribute when it comes to review time, or future interviews should you decide to seek a new role.   

Take Ownership of Your Work

Taking ownership of your work product is even more important when the business is remote, since others cannot see what you are working on.  Building on the point above, you need to demonstrate that you are adding value, while also being sensitive to the fact that many Company stakeholders will be “firefighting” right now, so unnecessary over-communication could be perceived as tone-deaf. 

Those stakeholders will also need to know they can trust and count on the Company’s attorney(s).  It is even more important to ask initial questions to ensure you’re clear on what stakeholders need from you – how often you should be checking in, how you can help to navigate and comply with any new COVID-19-related legal requirements, how best to communicate with them at home (email / voice call / video call) and how regularly, how they prefer to receive important updates and advisory opinions (email / formal memo / verbally). 

Request Regular Feedback

Do your best to seek, absorb and learn from any insights you receive.  It doesn’t have to be formal or contrived (remain alive to how busy and stressful things may be for business and operations teams in this climate), but asking for feedback on work you produced is especially important when working from home as it shows a demonstrable willingness to listen, learn and ultimately improve.  Taking constructive comments on board will help your own professional development and also work to the benefit of the Company.  Again, these examples will come in handy when it’s time for your review or an interview with a new employer. 

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