Alumna profile: Kalani Bogahalande
How has the COVID-19 outbreak changed the way you work?
I would say that COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way I work, and that of most of the legal profession. I am lucky in that our firm was already well- equipped to work from home so this has not been much of a change. It is quite an adapation from being able to work from home once in a while to working at home all the time. The way I am supervised has changed a lot in that I am used to face-to-face supervision (I sit next to my supervisor in the office) and now I am being supervised remotely. I'm currently in my Clinical Negligence seat and unfortunately, our workload has not slowed down as Litigation continues and individuals continue to pursue claims against the NHS. We are constantly receiving new cases. In relation to our existing cases, almost all the Courts are now conducting hearings via Skype or Telephone, which is one of the biggest changes for us. Lots of our cases require expert opinions from clinicians. As a result of the Pandemic, lots of our experts are either busy on the front line or have been re-deployed so we have to be extremely sensitive to the fact that they may not always be available to answer our queries.
What is the biggest challenge about this new way of working, and what has helped overcome this?
I would say that at times I find it difficult to switch off from work. Before, it was easier to distinguish between work and free time, however now I find myself working later than usual because I am already at home! Sometimes I also pick up my emails on the weekends, but I am trying to stop doing this. As the majority of our Court Hearings are via Skype or telephone, we are having to prepare electronic bundles, as usually we would submit paper copies to the Court. This has required me to learn a whole host of new skills in relation to electronic bundle creation which has taken some patience and perseverance. Attending hearings via Skype is also a challenge, as not all participants have the same internet connections and so sound and picture quality is not always great. This can sometimes affect the flow of a hearing.
What helps you stay positive during this challenging time?
Knowing that this soon will pass and if we all continue to do our bit, by staying at home, we will be able to return to normality soon.
Do you have any advice or a message to others working on the front line to keep the public safe?
Thank you for all that you do, and thank you for risking your health to look after others so that we can remain safe and healthy at home.
What advice would you give to current students who may be about to enter the workplace, or are volunteering, during the outbreak?
I appreciate it seems daunting trying to apply for work experience or work shadowing roles at this time and lots of places are pausing schemes. I would suggest that you try to continue to network online. LinkedIn is a fantastic tool which promotes virtual networking and will allow you to meet new people who may be able to open new doors for you once the Pandemic is over. I would also see if there are any interesting online seminars that you can join, lots of places are hosting these for free.