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Diary of a lockdown lawyer

Since the lockdown began I took the view that a good routine was key to survival. I decided to keep as close as possible to my normal weekday ritual of starting with a morning workout, shower, breakfast, coffee (of course!) and then getting stuck into emails, ready and raring to go for the day ahead. I tucked myself away in my new ‘office’ – the spare bedroom which prior to the quick purchase of a monitor and keyboard consisted of an old table, a bed (with no bedding) and a pile of shoeboxes containing old shoes which were in the ‘no longer worn but not quite ready to get rid of’ stage of life. Upon the arrival of my monitor and some clean bed sheets, it quickly became ‘the office’.

Being a family lawyer, the lockdown didn’t slow down work as it did in some industry’s but rather brought with it fresh concerns from clients – ‘Can my children still come to stay this weekend?’; ‘Will my court hearing be going ahead next month?’; ‘I’m scared of my partner and now I have nowhere to go.’. In addition, the court system, started grappling with closing their doors and holding remote hearings which family lawyers quickly had to get up to speed with too.

Those first few weeks were tough, getting on top of new guidance and advice from the government and courts (which initially seemed to flood my inbox like a tsunami, although did ease to a something more akin to a burst river bank), at the same time as adapting to a new working environment. But alas, my routine remained consistent, after the morning ritual, taking a quick lunch break and then getting my head down again for the afternoon tasks. Business as usual! After a few weeks of this and feeling rather pleased with myself and my ‘survival routine’ strategy, a curveball was thrown. Someone I knew closely was diagnosed with Covid-19. A few days later, they passed away. Having taken an attitude of continuing business as usual, keeping as close to pre-lockdown normality as I could, I realised quickly that there was nothing ‘normal’ about life anymore.

We were amidst a world-wide pandemic, lives were being lost, businesses severely affected, families trying to cope under so many unforeseen pressures. ‘Normal’ had changed drastically.

Now this isn’t to say that this realisation meant shifting to morning lay-ins, daytime TV and no more coffee! The ‘survival routine’ continued and still does, but what did change was my daily thoughts on the current situation and how to cope with it. Don’t expect to achieve a normality that once was pre-lockdown.

There is a lot going on in the world, some of it showcases the best of humanity, some of it the worst and some the areas which quite simply are outside of humanity’s control. Some days you’ll feel great, energised and take happiness in daily exercise and being around those you live with more. Other days you’ll feel sad, claustrophobic and tense. But however we’re feeling, this is a time to support one another and try our best to be kind. A daily life habit which I hope continues once Covid-19 is a long way behind us.

So lockdown continues, and so do the days ahead for the ‘lockdown lawyer’. I think comfort can be taken in the fact that we are not alone. Everyone is affected, millions are on lockdown and no doubt each person’s experience is both similar and unique. For now however, I shall stick to the routine and keep pushing forward, as I know so many others will too.

Posted By Nina Lake

25 May 2020

Nina Lake
Partner, Family Law