THE (NOT SO) LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 28: DAVID WITHERS
There may, at times, be a slight Yorkshire bias to the selection of club members, be assured that this is not unconscious. However I noticed that South Yorkshire was missing. Today we here from David Withers a partner at Irwin Mitchell in Sheffield.
Where are you working from now?
I am working from home in Fulwood, Sheffield, near to the Peak District. On Mondays, when my nearly 2 year is not at nursery, I commandeer his room. On the other week days, I work at my dining room table, close to the food!
What has been most difficult about working remotely?
I am someone who gets energy from working alongside people. I am fortunate to work with people who are like-minded; they are hugely committed and passionate about what they do. We strive every day to get the best possible results for our clients and, more importantly at least initially, to implement the rehabilitation and care that they need to rebuild their quality of life. I certainly miss working alongside such talented people every day. I also miss meeting clients, experts and counsel. We very rarely have similar days in our job.
What has been your biggest technical challenge?
I have had to take a number of “crash courses” on applications that we are now using. However, the most challenging aspect has been trying to sync everyone’s different systems. Each law firm has its own system. The Courts have their own system. Insurers may have their own system. Hospitals have their own system. It is great that everyone has (rightly) tried to go paperless in such a short period of time but that has not been a flawless process. With good communication and a collaborative approach though, solutions can be found. I have been so impressed by how innovative people are being to keep cases moving insofar as possible.
Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with you?
I have worked alongside my friend, colleague, and paralegal, Jeanette Scanlan, for nearly 10 years. It has been very strange not seeing her every day and dealing with problems together and doing our very best for families and individuals who have had the misfortunate to be involved in such serious accidents. She is, however, only on the end of the phone and I now have her on speed dial, much to her disappointment!
What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned?
I am now pretty efficient at using Adobe Pro and I love creating e-bundles although I am rarely afforded the opportunity to do so because my team are less enthusiastic about my ability. I am also proud of myself for learning how to have a “beach background” on Microsoft Teams, despite being very far from a beach! As an early adopter of the beach background, I got a range of looks from confused, surprised, to jealous (until they realised it was just a background).
Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future?
It is inconceivable that the lockdown period will not change the way that we work in the future. We have done a lot of work as a business in trying to identify the opportunities which may arise for our clients, colleagues and communities. There is a real commitment to remaining almost completely paperless. I very much hope that more of our colleagues and those that we work with will also be able to spend more time with their families and loved ones and we will not feel as restricted as perhaps we used to working in an office from 9 am until 5 pm. We had an agile working policy which prepared us to some extend for the lockdown. I anticipate that this will be made even more flexible. I also think that there will be far less travel particularly with the innovative technology that we have invested in, meaning our environmental footprint will reduce.
What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?
As much as I love my nearly 2 year old son, I am very much looking forward to taking him to his grandparents and spending some time relaxing in a nice restaurant without hearing the words “Daddy” every two minutes! I have certainly become even close with him after spending so long together!
I am also looking forward to watching more sport; I support no less than five football teams so I am hopeful that at least one of them does well.