Our Women in IP community’s most recent suite of virtual coffee mornings took place on 3 June 2020. Here’s a report from Isobel Barry, a senior associate at Carpmaels & Ransford LLP and a member of both the Women in IP and IP Out committees.
We’ll be scheduling more of these popular multi-centre coffee dates soon. We’ve also a “men in IP” coffee morning on 19 June, to discuss “work-life balance and the 21st century father”.
Women in IP coffee mornings are a pick-me-up
For better or worse, dialling in from home to host one of the many groups of women connecting last Wednesday morning felt natural in a way I couldn’t have imagined 3 months ago. Once again, we had virtual meet-ups across the UK, and another in Dublin, with those interested signing up to whichever host was nearest to them. This resulted in another bumper turnout.
Months into lockdown, it was time for self-reflection, considering and discussing what we had learned about ourselves, what we had learned about others, and what realisations about ourselves we wanted to carry forward into a post-lockdown world, whenever that comes. The discussions across the country were collected and a selection of highlights are below.
The answers to the first question were as varied as the situations people have found themselves in. Many were surprised to find just how much they thrive off the energy of others, and the value of interactions with strangers. Others were pleased to find that they were able to establish and keep to a routine even without the old structure of a working day. An observation made by more than one person that goes slightly against expectations was that they missed their commute, because that was their only “me time”, although these were outweighed by those who do not miss it one bit! Those who have managed to take holidays have learned the value of doing so even without leaving their home, but that the temptation to just log back on for one or two meetings takes some resisting. Lockdown caused some of those who describe themselves as “type A” personalities to find that if needed they can relinquish their tight control over their life, and even learn to enjoy it.
Turning to what we have learned about others, the lists of things to be learned about those one lives with – partners, children, pets – when spending 24 hours a day in their company could fill an entire blog post. One interesting observation is that it seems like the tone of interactions between outside and inside counsel, and with those on the other side of matters, has really changed: it seems like people are more personable, which has been a really pleasant development. Of course, people always had this side to them, but in our old office environments it was not being shown in the same way.
Aspects to carry forward fell on some common themes. Many are enjoying the increased flexibility that comes from losing the commute and from not having to ferry children around to various activities, with whole families embracing the focus on simple pleasures that lockdown has brought. New habits to be retained included mindfulness, walks and other exercise, reading more fiction and appreciation of nature. It seems that many will not want to surrender the prioritising of friends and family that has been possible in the past three months, so work patterns may adapt to accommodate this. A neat complement to this is the fact that lockdown has brought colleagues closer together and encouraged more and more regular personal conversations, which it is hoped will continue. On a lighter, but still important note, there was some speculation as to whether dress codes would change after everyone has gone for such a long period of time without having to dress up, and certainly without having to wear formal, uncomfortable shoes (or in fact any shoes at all!). Time will tell.
Watch this space for the next event. Thank you to all our wonderful hosts, listed below. If you are interested in hosting in future please do get in touch.
Our 3 June hosts (thank you all!)
Belfast: Helen Lavery (Murgitroyd)
Dublin: Marie Walsh (Hanna Moore + Curley)
Glasgow: Megan Briggs (Burness Paull), Eleanor Coates (Murgitroyd) and Laurence Cheney (Murgitroyd)
London: Emily Teesdale (Abel+Imray) and Isobel Barry (Carpmaels & Ransford)
Midlands: Claire O’Brien (Mills Reeve)
Southampton: Rachel Pellatt (Murgitroyd)
York: Catherine Coombes (Mugitroyd)