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Are you prepared for another COVID lockdown?

Have you tested your pandemic lockdown plan?

If you were given notice at 1pm today that you would not be able to return to your office the next day:

  • What would you need to do?
  • Could you work from home/remotely effectively?
  • Could your staff/team work from their home?

During prior lockdowns solicitors and law firm staff were classed as ‘essential workers’. This may not be the case for future events.

Give yourself a score of 1 for each of the following you have implemented in your practice. NB: ‘Ability to access’ means you have already used and tested this technology, and staff have been shown how to use it. All ‘Essentials’ should also be in place.

Essentials:

 Secure at-home computer equipment and internet access for all staff
 EFT funds transfer authority for your trust account
 Secure remote access to your Practice Management System/Office 365. If not possible, a way of securely transferring client and accounting information.
 Video conferencing platform and hardware, video and audio recording, for example, Zoom/Teams
 Suitable place to work to ensure confidentiality of client documents, data and conversations. Desk and adjustable chair preferred.
 Redirection of phone calls to appropriate number(s), ability to alter redirection if needed
 Arrangements for collection of mail from mail box, or redirection.

Ability to access:

 Scan, copy and print facility
 An electronic settlement platform (for example, PEXA or Simplii) either using your own subscription (preferred) or a settlement agent
 Electronic Titles Office lodgements
 Court portals
 E-signing platform
 A remote client identification platform
 Secure messaging facility (not rely on email), for example, MS Teams messaging app
 Courier services
 Electronic safe custody records
 Postage supplies
 Email broadcast service to quickly provide updates to all clients and contacts of the practice
 Voice messages/forwarded calls. Updated recording if a voicemail box will not be monitored.
 Network of colleagues or access to a locum
 Checklist of vital documents, security keys, tokens, and passwords.

How did you go?

1-5: Unless you are already working from home, it looks like you would struggle if there was an extended lockdown. Call the QLS Ethics and Practice Support Centre – 3842 5843 – for advice on how to implement some changes to ensure your practice is pandemic ready.

6-10: You have made a start, but a pandemic lockdown would cause considerable stress and time as there are many aspects of your practice that still require you to be in the office.

11-15: Great work¸ it looks like your practice would be able to move to a work from anywhere (that is, home) model. There are some additional measures you could take which would make the transition easier.

16-21: Congratulations. It looks like your practice is pandemic ready – you and your staff will be able to relocate at short notice and continue to provide professional services to your clients.

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