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How the COVID-19 pandemic helped me future-proof my business

Taking the plunge and starting a successful new business is never easy – doing so during a global pandemic sounds almost impossible.


But a willingness to embrace new technology, and to rethink established norms, has seen leading solicitor Donna Sandall defy the odds and launch a thriving new law firm.


Donna, who launched Darlington-based Donna Sandall Family Law in January 2021, had spent the previous 20 years working for law firms in Peterborough and Durham before deciding to go it alone.


The COVID-19 outbreak meant face-to-face meetings with clients and hearings before judges in open court had to be abandoned. In their place came telephone conferences and video livestreams – something which Donna was quick to adapt to.


She said: “Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, the majority of my working life was spent meeting clients in the office and travelling across the region to represent them in various courts.

“But that all changed once the first UK-wide lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson on March 23, 2020.


“It was no longer possible for clients to travel to my office and court cases were all handled remotely. This was a total transformation – I had never experienced anything like it before in my career.


“But I was determined to stay positive and to turn the negatives into positives. I became adept at video conference calls and carrying out court work over the phone. It took some getting used to, but it worked surprisingly well.


“I no longer wasted whole days travelling to and from court hearings, and waiting for my case to be called in court. Dialling in remotely meant I could work on other things before and after each case. There were no travelling expenses, no parking tickets, and no rushing around unfamiliar towns and cities trying to find court buildings.


“I was working more efficiently than ever. As COVID-19 is finally brought under control, and we gradually return to normal, some face-to-face meetings and court hearings have returned. But only a few, and it’s likely remote hearings will be used far more frequently in certain circumstances. There’s potential to save a lot of time for clients, solicitors, judiciary and court staff.”


Donna, who has an office at the Darlington Arena, in Neasham Road, Darlington, said many of her clients have welcomed the new digital era.


She added: “Many people have told me they like the fact that meetings, and court hearings, have been taking place remotely. It means they don’t need to take the whole day off work and can instead dial in from work - during break times – or from the comfort of home.


“This is good news for bosses too, as it means employees need less time off away from the workplace while dealing with legal matters which can involve multiple court hearings over a period of months.


“It also has meant that I can act for clients based anywhere in the UK – not just the north east.”


Donna Sandall Family Law is a niche solicitors’ practice, specialising in family and matrimonial law. Located in one of Darlington’s most prominent and recognisable buildings, it provides legal services to the County Durham area and beyond.


Donna helps clients with a range of issues including divorce, finances, child arrangements, separation, pre and post-nuptial agreements and much more.


Her message to other businesses which have faced challenges caused by COVID-19 is simple – don’t be afraid of change.


She added: “Two years ago I would never have believed how much the legal industry would change as a result of the pandemic. Don’t be afraid of technology – it really can transform the way you work.”


For more information about Donna Sandall Family Law, or to book a free initial appointment, visit www.donnasandallfamilylaw.co.uk call 01325 804751, or email donna@donnasandallfamilylaw.co.uk

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