This Article was written by the Head of Learning & Development, Ivana Karanović.
After the usual busy start of the year packed with on-going projects and plans for the future ones, COVID-19 lead to a major break-off in March. We had to take a pause, slow down, and start finding ways to adjust.
The outbreak of COVID-19 brought about many disruptions to businesses around the world, and Karanovic & Partners team was affected as well. After the declaration of the state of emergency in Serbia and the region, we had to take immediate action to protect the health and safety of both our clients and our team.
The concept of our events was changed as well, and we entered the online realm. Thus, for the first time ever, Karanovic & Partners held the traditional Open Day for students and recent graduates online on 29 April 2020.
As always, attendees, or in this case – viewers, had the opportunity to talk to our team and learn a lot about the delights and challenges of becoming a lawyer. Our colleagues Igor Radovanović and Katarina Tomić explained all aspects of their journey with the Karanović & Partners team and their thoughts on the world of corporate law. They also covered workflow and tasks they are faced with on a daily basis, while Višnja Filipović discussed adjustments we made to make remote work more enjoyable and I explained the basics of our programmes, how they work, and what we expect from the prospective candidates. We also answered dozens of questions asked by the audience, mostly related to topics which turned out to be very important for our attendees – the details of our internal communication, atmosphere and team spirit, IT law and of course the inevitable topic nowadays – how we, as a team, manage to cope with the COVID-19 challenges.
A focal point of the presentation was our k/andidates programme, which was, unfortunately, delayed for the time being due to the current health situation. The programme was designed as a powerful learning tool for our trainees and helps them grow into the mindset of a lawyer while learning new skills and specialising in various fields of corporate law. Normally, we hold two open calls for trainees during a given year, but under the current circumstances, much remains to be seen. Our audience and potential candidates will be informed in due time on how the programme will progress this year.
Nevertheless, we used this opportunity to answer many questions about our expectations, selection process, training, work, etc., as we think it is of utmost importance to enable students and graduates to make an informed decision when thinking about their future careers in law.
Trainees’ & Lawyers’ Life
I think it came as a bit of a disappointment to all the fans of TV shows about lawyers to learn that we are just regular people who meet clients and colleagues, go to court hearings, read a lot of documents and regulations, draft documents, negotiate and get to be creative in solving problems. And nowadays we do all that from home.
Working under COVID-19 and Going Strong Online
Karanovic & Partners took extensive measures to protect both the team and our clients. We acted upon the recommendations of the local governments immediately and organized remote work. Our premises were closed, but a plan was put in place to ensure the proper daily functioning. To ensure the team has the opportunity to master new skills, all training courses were moved online. We already extensively use online means of communication, and the current situation provided an opportunity for us to fully utilise online communication to hold regular meetings, contact team members and clients. During the entirety of the pandemic, we managed to effectively communicate with our clients and provide all the legal services necessary for their functioning.
We know how privileged we are to be able to continue working from the safety of our homes, but we have also discussed the downsides. For us lawyers, work-life balance is an elusive concept, as our profession requires full dedication to our clients and being available whenever needed. A home is a place where we retreat to recuperate and energize. When working from home, these boundaries between work and life get a bit blurred, and we did our best to help our team members to adapt as easily as possible through counselling with an in-house coach, mentor support, and a number of other activities. But we all agreed that we miss our colleagues and can’t wait to get together in person again.
Teambuilding is a staple of our philosophy at Karanovic & Partners. A well-connected team functions better and is able to coordinate efforts much more efficiently. With that in mind, we also created k/clubs as a way of maintaining the team spirit and organizing teambuilding sessions. The focus of k/clubs is our team’s shared interests and hobbies – books, music, movies, and cooking. As this situation turned out to be of historical significance, we decided to pay special attention to the mental well-being of our team. To that end, we organized a special club dedicated to meditation, through which our colleagues could learn new techniques and ways of coping with the given situation. This form of teambuilding provided invaluable to our colleagues in these precarious times.
Interestingly. this topic was raised by numerous members of our audience and we were both impressed and happy to see so many questions regarding the IT industry! We got a chance to discuss how the everyday routine of an IT lawyer looks like, what are the current trends in the IT industry and generally the role of a lawyer in a technology-dominated world. It seems the COVID-19 situation “helped” shed more light on the importance of technology as we can see that the entire world is either working from home (if possible) or at least using technology to diminish the effects of the health crisis.
These days we don’t have many opportunities to dress up, so it felt great just to put on a shirt, some make-up and go on-line to meet future fellow lawyers (the only hard part was explaining to my kids that they should not disturb me for an hour or so). And for me, keeping that connection with our young and prospering legal minds is the most important take away from our online event. With all the uncertainty we are facing, it is vital to support our future colleagues, now more than ever, with career advice, morale boost, and ideas on their personal development, which I hope we made a small contribution towards, through our Open Day. My final thoughts for our young colleagues – be patient, take care of yourself and your loved ones, read books, try to learn something new, this crisis will pass, like many others before, and your career will await you.