THE (NOT SO) LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 29: STEPHEN LOXTON: THE CLERK’S TALE
Next on our list of members is Stephen Loxton, Director of Clerking at Kings Chambers. Steve is working from home with two young children for company. He is one of hundreds (if not thousands)of people involved in the management of chambers and law firms who have had to adapt rapidly to the challenges put forward by the pandemic.
Where are you working from now?
My dining room table with my wife working next to me and my children playing in the garden.
What has been most difficult about working remotely?
The blurring of home and working life. I was conditioned to mentally switching to work mode when I left the house in the morning until I returned in the evening. The merging of the two, balancing children and work all day has definitely been a cause of unexpected stress.
What has been your biggest technical challenge?
Initially there were many obvious and immediate challenges. The main one being ensuring that we used technology to keep our business functioning during the early weeks of lockdown. It required all of us in chambers to rapidly embrace new technology in order to be able to communicate with our clients and opponents and retain dates for conferences, Joint settlement hearings and court hearings. Once the initial “shock” of lockdown had passed then the challenge became effective remote marketing and ensuring continued work flow. Another major challenge has been lobbying certain tribunals and courts to embrace remote hearings to keep the wheels of justice turning during lockdown.
Is there anything workwise that you wish you had with you?
My colleagues. Our clerks room is a tight knit working environment and I miss the everyday camaraderie and humour that life in the clerks room offers. All of chambers staff have been incredibly hard working and adapted tremendously well to remote working, it will be a very welcome day however when we can all see each other again.
What is the most helpful thing that you have learned.
Just how adaptable and agile our business is. I would have been the first to doubt the suggestion that at almost no notice at all we could close our buildings and all successfully work from home whilst maintaining our activity levels. It took some very rapid planning ahead of lockdown but the infrastructure was pretty much already in place and the process has proven much more achievable that I thought possible. The most important thing that I have learned is that we adapted quickly this time and can be even better if it happens again.
Do you think this is going to change the way we work in the future.
Definitely. I think that Barristers will travel less and be more productive as a result. There will be more directions, budgeting and interlocutory hearings that will be done by video and telephone. By proving that we can all work productively and effectively from home I think that rigid office hours will be consigned to history and more flexible working patterns will become the norm across our sector and society.
What is the first thing that you are going to do when you are out of lockdown.
That is a very easy question to answer. To see close family. My wife misses her parents very much as I do my mother. Grandparents have also missed out on four months so far of seeing their grandchildren grow and develop. The first thing we will do is spend time with them.