From Covid 19 chaos to new beginnings with GWBHarthillsLLP
21st April 2021
Partners at South Yorkshire Legal Aid Specialist Law Firm GWBHarthillsLLP reflect on the last 12 months in business.
“Up until March of 2020, it was business as usual” says Hester Russell - Partner and Head of Crime. “A rapid expansion since the merger of Harthills (a Rotherham firm) and GWB (of Sheffield) and the subsequent addition of HDH (of Doncaster) in 2018 involved a substantial investment in terms of both time and cash. We had an excellent team but the bottom line was that we needed to maintain profitability if we were to protect our Clients and Staff”.
Elizabeth Lord - Partner and Head of Family - had overall responsibility for the firm’s finances. “It was scary. We had lots of mouths to feed, no insight into how the Courts would deal with the impact of the virus and there appeared to be a complete national shut-down on the horizon. Then the Furlough System was announced, it was a game-changer”.
The management team acted without delay, furloughing staff where possible to reduce outgoings and keep people safe. “We decided that we would do as much work as possible ourselves” says Elizabeth, “and with a team of incredibly hard-working staff we gradually returned to a normality of sorts.”
“We are painfully aware of the devastating impact that this virus has had on individuals and on the economy” says Hester. “Moving forwards though, there are lessons that we have learned and will seek to use to the firm’s benefit as we head towards a post Covid19 recovery.”
“Mental Health awareness has come to the fore”, says Elizabeth. “The importance of being together as a team, of having a shoulder to cry on and a hug when needed will never again be underestimated. Watching colleagues deal with bereavement, the pressures of home-schooling, the fear of financial difficulties and a plethora of other problems has been tough. We want to do all that we can to make sure that everyone comes out of this safely”.
“There have been some unexpected positives though” says Hester. “Whilst the Criminal Courts have generally required attendance at court in person; remote working on some cases - particularly those out of area - has demonstrated that a degree of remote working is possible. We have also been able to have meetings with people from all three South Yorkshire offices with minimal disruption and environmental impact. This is great news. We are all now Zoom savvy and this is a real positive”.
Have we weathered the storm?
“Yes” says Elizabeth! Hester agrees, “we have always had absolute trust in our people and each other. That has allowed us to act quickly and decisively, safe in the knowledge that we will be supported by the people who matter most”.
GWBHarthillsLLP offer expert advice in Family and Criminal Law at all levels with Specialist Legal Executives, Solicitors and Barristers providing a bespoke service to Individuals and Businesses throughout South Yorkshire and beyond.