THE NOT SO LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 17: GORDON DALYELL: MEMBERSHIP FROM NORTH OF THE BORDER

Membership of our club is not confined to any one jurisdiction.   Gordon Dalyell was invited to become our first club member in Scotland (and also because there can never be enough Gordons in any organisation).  Gordon is a partner with Digby Brown LLP based in Edinburgh.   He is President of APIL (for another 10 days).

 

CAN YOU GIVE US A BRIEF IDEA OF HOW THINGS ARE GOING ALONG IN SCOTLAND

This is a view from north of the border, and of course a different jurisdiction. Much of the day-to-day effect is broadly similar to the rest of the UK. Solicitors, Counsel, Insurers, and Experts have generally adapted to working from home or remotely, and whilst perhaps not at usual levels, the progress of cases has been able to continue. The significant constraint, I have to say, has been the courts. In contrast to England & Wales, the Scottish courts have been much slower in adapting to the crisis. Urgent business, strictly defined of course, has been dealt with, but we have a PI system which is designed essentially to run itself, provided there is a certain level of administrative support. It is taking some time to make any progress and whilst very recently there have some positive signs, we have some way to go. Balancing the safety of court staff with the interests of progressing cases will always be delicate, but the experience in England & Wales does suggest it can be done more effectively.

Where are you working from now?

1.    I’m currently at home. We are fortunate that we had the capability to do so so the transition has been pretty seamless.

What has been most difficult about working remotely.

2.    This is not original, but I do miss the company of colleagues. We are catching up on a regular basis using various platforms, and that is helping a lot of people, but the value of physical interaction should not be underestimated.

What has been your biggest technical challenge?

3.    Touch wood, the technology has been fine so far. At times, the system can be a bit stretched though that can be due to any number of reasons.

Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with you?

4.    The honest answer is not really. I know a number of people are missing a second screen, but never having had a second screen, I’m not really sure what I would do with it!

What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned?

5.    A reminder of just how crucial it is to maintain contact with people, and doing so regularly. There will be many long-term consequences of the crisis, but being aware and dealing with the psychological factors will be amongst the most important. On a more personal level, with teenage son back in the house, a regular update on just how poor my musical taste is.

Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future?

6.    Absolutely.  I think it has been very interesting to see how the significant majority of those in our area have adapted relatively quickly to the crisis. There had been a move towards remote working anyway in the legal sector, but I think this will be accelerated. Firms will reassess their bricks and mortar requirements. However there is a balance to be struck with people maintaining contact with colleagues etc. In essence, I can see a far more flexible working future for most of us.

What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?

7.   Catch up in person with family and friends. The Zoom etc approach is fine insofar as it goes, but the personal contact has been missed. Would help if the pubs opened at the same time but that may be wishful thinking!
(I’ve attached a photo of the deserted High Street in Edinburgh, taken in the middle of the day. The Court of Session is located behind St Giles Cathedral on the left, and the High Court is up at the top right. Normally the street would be thronged with tourists, people going about their daily business, including of course lawyers. Now – completely dead)