Face-to-face gatherings are slowly returning — and this can only be a good thing, writes Legal Cheek’s features editor Aishah Hussain
With more than a year of Covid-19 restrictions behind us it’s a relief to see in-person events across the legal sector gradually make their way onto our calendars once again.
Prior to the pandemic, I’d be up and down the country, hosting Legal Cheek‘s own in-person events or attending one of the many (and often very glam) soirées put on by law firms for legal journos. Our diaries would be chock-a-block with invites to breakfasts, press parties, media mixers and gatherings at exclusive venues.
That of course was all put on hold when we were plunged into lockdown at the start of last year.
But the in-person social scene is slowly picking up, and yesterday, I was invited to an initmate gathering of legal and business affairs journalists at Ashurst‘s City of London office. The firm moved to new premises in the City’s Fruit & Wool Exchange in 2019 but it wasn’t until yesterday I finally got to see it in all of its steel and glass splendour — and the first time in about two years I had set foot in a law firm building! Cooped-up indoors working from home and being starved of in-person interaction for so long I was understandably eager to attend, press the flesh (or whatever the etiquette is these days) and put faces to names.
The event itself was a small-scale affair. There were of course the inevitable drop-outs but the City of London Law Society, who hosted us, has to be commended for putting on an in-person event and telling us a little more about the work it does. The CLLS is the ‘spokesperson’ for over 50 UK and US law firms operating in the City and represents their interests on matters ranging from lawyer wellbeing to diversity. Meeting with the committee members, over a breakfast spread, you remember just how important building connections in the real world can be.
Legal Cheek last month hosted an ‘opening up celebration’ for lawyers and legal professionals in London’s swish Sea Containers House. The event was very well-attended and I finally got to meet some of the colleagues I had been working with remotely for so long. Though we’re still not quite sure whether to hug, handshake or fist bump(!) and things like hand sanitiser stations, face masks and temperature checks (Ashurst has a particularly fancy face scanner) remain in place.
There are other legal events coming up in the calendar, including the return of the London Legal Walk as an in-person event on Monday. Over 8,000 walkers have already signed up from law firms, chambers, legal advice agencies, law schools, in-house legal teams and the judiciary. What’s more, the Solicitors Regulation Authority is hosting networking events around the country this autumn, and the bar pro bono awards will be held both in-person and online next month.
The appetite for in-person events appears to be there and their reemergence should be welcomed by journalists, lawyers and law students alike.
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