Changing with the times

October 2, 2020

The world as we know it has changed beyond all recognition in the last few months, meaning that many companies have had to adapt and change to cope with the challenges caused by COVID-19. Emma Gaudern, managing director of EMG Solicitors, explains how her team have dealt with this unprecedented situation

At both our Durham head office and our new office at Gosforth, which opened in September last year, we’ve had a long-held practice of remote and flexible working at EMG Solicitors.

Little did any of us think when we set the business up six years ago, how invaluable being cloud-based and paperless would be when the world faced the threat caused by COVID-19.

Even before the Prime Minister announced lockdown, we had decided to ask our team to work from home and, because we had all the necessary systems and infrastructure in place, it was a relatively seamless transition.

To be able to say to clients that it was pretty much business as usual, just without face-to-face meetings, was hugely reassuring to for them and our team at a time when there was so much uncertainty locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Our team have been extremely committed and worked tirelessly during the past few months and while both offices are now open again – with, of course, social distancing in place – some of our team continue to work from home.

The phrase the ‘new normal’ is becoming increasingly used and that’s certainly true when it comes to how we are all working.

We’re glad to say that we’ve reached the perfect balance of agile working, which allows us to achieve our most important aim – giving our clients the service they need.

It’s also been important to keep staff morale up at times when you’re not all in the office or seeing each other on a daily basis so we ensured regular contact with every team member to check in and make sure nobody ever felt isolated or without access to a listening ear. The Ringtons hampers and team quiz nights helped too!

It was equally important to us to keep up our commitment to support charities and good causes and we’re proud we’ve been able to do that.

Last December we set up – with the County Durham Community Foundation – the EMG Community Fund where we pledged to support a range of good causes.

We initially held £34,000 in our fund and were delighted that in January the first round of payments were made to some really important services.

One of the first beneficiaries was Newcastle Women’s Aid to provide DAFS (Domestic Abuse Flexible Support) services, more important than ever because of the difficulties many women faced during lockdown.

A donation also went to the Millin Charity, a Local Enterprise Gateshead project, which helps support women who are unable to get access to employment for a variety of reasons.

The last donation in this round went to Laurel Avenue Association, which provides peer support for disadvantaged young women to provide positive experiences.

While many of these organisations have had to put their work on hold, once they can start again we know these donations will be put to good use.

At EMG, we see supporting the wider community as an integral part of our job and, during the early days of the pandemic, we contributed a further £2500 to the Foundation’s COVID Emergency Fund, which went towards helping charities that were supporting key workers and front line staff.

One of the effects of coronavirus is that it has made many people see the importance of having their affairs in order and ensuring their loved ones are provided for and that their personal wishes are carried out.

Writing wills is a part of what our team does on a daily basis and while understandably nobody wants to think about dying, for many people this outbreak was a wake-up call to recognise the need to have one.

For NHS workers at the time, this was even more important and we are glad to say we helped out by writing 50 wills at no cost to give these front line fighters peace of mind.

We can never stress enough how vital it is for everyone to have a will and to have proper instructions in place, not just for yourself but for your family.

Hopefully it will be a long time before it has to be acted on but organising now can save a lot of heartache at a later date.

Wills, trusts and probate are just one of the many areas of the law we deal with at EMG and I’m delighted that over the years we’ve managed to extend our offering by recruiting experts across a wide range of disciplines.

Along with our busy family law department and Court of Protection work, we also deal with employment law, residential conveyancing, commercial property, disputes and litigation and family mediation.

We’ve adapted our services during coronavirus so that clients can talk to us via video or telephone so they know that we’re always available to support them.

One of the latest strings to the EMG bow is the introduction of mediation services within our
family team and employment within the dispute resolution team, with specialists who are already supporting clients with issues in these areas.

We know that despite the problems and worries that coronavirus has – and continues – to cause, the world still has to function.

We are fully aware that our clients need our help across a whole host of areas and it is our job to continue to provide those services no matter what.

I think we’ve been particularly good at doing that because of a number of factors – a talented and dedicated team who always want to go above and beyond and the fact that we’ve channelled our ‘inner chameleon’ – by adapting to the ever- changing situation.

Nobody knows what the future will hold but let’s be hopeful that our world will start to return to some degree of normality – and we at EMG are here to support our clients through whatever challenges they face.

EMG Solicitors

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