Milad Shojaei graduated in 2019, looking to build a career as a barrister, and then Coronavirus came along and everything changed. He takes a brief look at how the virus has affected him and the first steps in his legal career.
Like many people, the sweeping changes brought about by COVID-19 impacted me at the beginning of my legal career. Having just started to take instructions as a County Court Advocate for LPC Law in early March, I only had the chance to represent clients at a handful of hearings, before every matter I was instructed on was adjourned. Worse yet, all but one of my pupillage applications had fallen apart with the interviews being scrapped in light of the circumstances. This alongside significant concerns that various law firms could go bankrupt and with alarming statistics that 83% of junior barristers would not survive the pandemic, I was worried that my short-lived career as a legal professional was coming to an end before it even started!
Luckily the legal sector was not completely unprepared. After the emergency release of the Coronavirus Act 2020, it was clear that the Courts in England & Wales had, through no choice of their own, taken on an accelerated transition into the paperless world, by expanding the availability of video and audio-link in court proceedings. Before working remotely myself, I could already observe the cultural shifts in the legal landscape with my LinkedIn feed being loaded with various promotions of legal tech and a cluster of invitations to participate in mock remote jury trials to test the robustness of the new system.
The reality set in when I was first instructed on an Infant Settlement, and the entire procedure was conducted over a telephone conference, in my living room. For most, this was a sign that something was going wrong, for me not so much. As someone who had been advocating the digitisation of the legal sector at CASEDO for nearly a year, I not only had the technological awareness necessary for the change but was also equipped with the right legal case management software to assist my practice.
In essence, I have welcomed this change. What’s more is that my dream chambers decided to continue with the pupillage process via Zoom, technology coming in for the save again! That’s not to say that the impacts of the global crisis aren’t disastrous, but to witness the legal sector at large experience a wake-up call as to the things myself and the team at CASEDO have been driving forward, certainly suggests that more innovation and improved efficiency are on the horizon.