The Covid-19 pandemic has proved a significant challenge for many sectors of British industry and the legal sector is one that has not remained unaffected. Indeed, the Ministry of Justice classified lawyers, particularly in the realm of wills and probate, as key workers who should continue to operate through the pandemic.
Specialist estate lawyers April King Legal are an example of a law firm that has continued to run through the lockdown, and it has seen its workload in certain areas increasing during this period.
Sitting down with the Leaders Council’s Matthew O’Neill, April King Legal’s founder and chief executive Paul King, discussed the impact that the pandemic situation has had on the business and why it has still had plenty to contend with.
King explained: “It has created a number of challenges for us, but we have coped well and worked throughout the period. Given the nature of what we do as estate lawyers, there has been an increase in wills and probate work for our elderly clients, which has recently started to ease off more after an initial spike. People are also planning for lasting power of attorney to ensure others can take control of their affairs if they die or are incapacitated.”
While demand for wills and probate services among elderly clients has understandably been on the rise, something which King has seen from clients on an unprecedented scale is a number of requests to reduce the inheritance of certain beneficiaries and indeed a want to write people out of wills entirely.
“We have seen a huge increase in clients wanting to reduce the inheritance shares that some children were set to receive, and some have looked to write children out of their wills entirely”, King explained.
“Some of our older clients have of course been frustrated and perhaps are not in the best head-space during this time, so we have had to have long conversations with them about whether removing a beneficiary from their estate in the long-term is indeed the right move. So, I think it is fair to say it has been a strange old time for us!”
Although the initial demand for wills and probate services may have receded, King explained that this has not come at any detriment to the firm.
He said: “We have actually been increasing our activity week-by-week and are optimistic that we will be getting back to normal, under the new normal, as quickly as possible.”
What has been consistently billed as being a part of the “new normal”, particularly with regard to working practices, is an increased use of technology and more flexibility to allow people to work from home as well as at their conventional workplace. Since the British workforce has been reliant on technology more than ever before during this time, King sees a positive to take in order to help ready the business for the challenges of the future.
King concluded: “Going forward and taking the lessons in working practices from this lockdown period, we are going to look at our use of technology and really advance our digital processes to see how we can provide a more efficient service for our clients.”