It has been an extraordinary eight weeks for Ireland and the world.
In that time, Ireland has gone from being a country with close to full employment and a strong economy to being in a deep recession with unemployment at about 22% and rising. Even so, some commentators have expressed the view that Ireland will be one of the least affected countries in economic terms.
We transitioned to working from home on 12 March and at present we have 450 staff working in this way. While the camaraderie of the office is missed, the functionality and resilience of our IT systems has meant that the provision of legal service and advice to clients is largely unaffected. We have also moved our events programme online with over 5,000 clients and contacts attending our webinars over the last seven weeks.
The nature of some of what we do has of course changed. Transactional work has largely paused for now and the throughput of court work is much reduced, although our litigators are active in virtual or adapted hearings which the Courts have adopted at great speed. On the other hand, our advisory practices are extremely busy with Covid-related matters ranging from medical devices, health tech, data privacy and employment and benefits.
For now, the data on the global public health situation is becoming more positive. Even allowing for the variation in testing regimes and mortality reporting amongst countries, it is clear that the incidence of, and mortality from, the virus is reducing. This is true in Ireland and worldwide, even in countries that adopted later or less stringent measures than Ireland. Politicians everywhere are queuing up to say that the peak has passed.
Last Friday, Ireland published its plan for reopening society and the economy and now is the time for businesses to think about how they might reopen premises but retain social distancing. We have already commenced our planning in this regard. As a degree of normalisation returns, we expect an upsurge in transactional work and general economic activity – Adam Smith’s animal spirits don’t like being cooped up for too long! And we will be there to assist clients at every step of this journey of renewal.
The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.