New North Wales law firm manager on how legal eagles coped during COVID lockdown

A LAW firm leader’s first job in her new role was to prepare staff and clients for the Coronavirus lockdown.

Almost immediately after being unveiled as Practice Manager for Edward Hughes Solicitors, Jane Watson had to undertake the daunting task of ensuring their 30-strong workforce could work safely from home.

Both the Colwyn Bay and Rhyl offices were shut down and updated technology systems were introduced to allow legal processes and internal operations to continue.

Jane, who joined Edward Hughes 17 years ago after two decades in banking, had worked for a firm of solicitors straight out of college in Leeds.

She is enjoying her new position and admits while past months have been challenging, it will make the organisation more efficient moving forward.

“It all happened so fast, getting the job and then the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in the UK, so we had to be organised very quickly,” said Jane, who lives in Abergele with husband Tim.

“My role includes responsibility for managing the finances, compliance, IT and general office administration which, logistically, are impossible to do solely from home.

“We managed to ensure that, during lockdown, our receptionist and one other staff member were on site in Rhyl, to ensure the smooth running of the office whilst still maintaining contact with our clients safely and securely each day.

“The vast majority of our staff worked from home; because we have two sites it was not easy, but ahead of lockdown we had set everyone up with computers remotely, especially the solicitors, so service could continue. It’s not the kind of industry that just stops.”

With both offices now reopening with strict health and safety measures in place, she now looks forward to planning for the future of the business, which is driven by partners David Jones, Richard Johnson, and Alex Fitzgerald.

Mr Jones praised her for how quickly she, and all their other employees, reacted to the logistical demands of the COVID-19 outbreak, and maintained a high level of service throughout.

“Jane has managed the two sites and people working from home brilliantly, which wasn’t easy,” he said.

“We already had IT systems in place, but the staff have had to adjust to a different way of working as they adhere to social distancing rules and adapt to an unfamiliar office environment.

“It wasn’t the ideal start to life as a Practice Manager because we were in completely unchartered territory, but she and the team dealt with it really well and navigated the challenges of past months admirably.”

For more information on Edward Hughes Solicitors, visit www.qualitysolicitors.com/edwardhughes and follow them on social media @QSEH_Solicitors.

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