None of its people have contracted the virus, but the firm is acting with an abundance of caution
Gilbert + Tobin (G+T) has made most of its lawyers and staff members work from home beginning Monday.
“A significant proportion” of the firm’s partners, lawyers, and staff in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth offices will be working remotely beginning 16 March, G+T managing partner Danny Gilbert told Australasian Lawyer on Sunday. Nonetheless, he said that business will continue as usual.
“It will otherwise be business as usual so far as Gilbert + Tobin and the firm’s clients are concerned. We are confident we have the capacity to deliver to clients in accordance with their needs and expectations, notwithstanding that most of us will be working remotely. Of course, there will be some essential in-person client meetings and meetings among our staff which will need to occur in the ordinary course, consistent with client needs,” he said.
Gilbert said that partner contacts at the firm will liaise with clients as necessary. He said that partners and lawyers will be available to speak with clients even if an office meeting is not possible. Those who have questions about business continuity or availability of partners and lawyers during the period of remote working are advised to contact their G+T liaison in the usual way.
None of its people have contracted the virus, but the firm is acting with an abundance of caution, Gilbert said.
“Fortunately, as far as we are aware, none of our people have contracted COVID-19. Our response has not been informed by any specific incidents of COVID-19 among our people or their contacts. We are taking this step as a precautionary measure to ensure that we look after our people and our clients. We also have in mind the benefits to the broader community. In all of the circumstances, we believe this is the right thing to do at this point,” he said.
Gilbert said that the firm intends to “maintain a very high level of business continuity” during this “uncertain period,” and that the firm is “confident” that the plans the organisation has put in place will ensure this continuity.
Gilbert also reminded clients that the COVID-19 crisis, which has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, is difficult for all organisations. The firm has formed a dedicated, cross-practice COVID-19 taskforce to help with relevant legal issues.
G+T’s move comes after King & Wood Mallesons closed its Sydney office last week after possible exposure of one of its staff to the virus while overseas. The same day, Norton Rose Fulbright closed most of its Sydney office after a staff member was found to have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case.