Law firms strive for long-term safety as they reopen offices
With the COVID-19 pandemic coming under control in China, law firms are beginning to reopen their offices. While many of them are confident of their thorough preparations to ensure their staff are protected and their business operations are efficient, they are still aiming for towards the future in the long run.
As China’s coronavirus numbers decline and the national lockdown eases, law firms in the country have begun to reopen their offices. And the top priority has been ensuring a safe and organized reopening process.
Healthcare supplies and strict office management procedures seem to be top of the list for law firms looking to ensure a safe reopening. Yingke Law Firm’s Beijing office has purchased and distributed masks, medical alcohol and hand sanitizers to their staff to better protect them. It has also worked out a system rules for office management. Each employee will have their temperature checked before entering, while visitors need to display identification and travel history records, and also register with photos in order to gain entry.
Additionally, the number of employees working in the office must not exceed more than 50 percent of the total, at any time, with per capita space per staff member in the office should not drop below 2 square meters. Yingke Beijing has also strictly limited working hours in their office, and staff are encouraged to attend meetings via video conferencing and phone calls in order to avoid unnecessary contact.
Meanwhile, the reopening of JunHe’s Beijing office was divided into two phases: the office was partially open from March to May, and then fully open from May 6. In both phases, JunHe also provided materials to combat the virus and instituted a set of rules. This included rules on dining; employees were asked to bring their own packed food or order food delivery. They were also prohibited from sitting across from each other while dining and also conversing during mealtimes.
A similar approach has been employed by Dentons in Shanghai. The firm has also been in close touch with its lawyers overseas to ensure that they are healthy, and also sent over medical supplies when necessary.
Among international firms, Hogan Lovells’ Hong Kong office has remained open since the Chinese New Year, but lawyers have had the option of working from home.. Within the office, it has taken measures such as physical distancing and increased hygiene.
However, law firms remain alert, as they believe they will be fighting this pandemic over the long term. Gretchen Liu, head of Dentons Shanghai office, says: “we need to prepare for a protracted war against the pandemic and we should never slack on the long-term prevention work. Based on a good prevention, we will fulfill our duties in people care, making sure that every staff and client can feel our efforts.”
Yingke’s Beijing office is also preparing for a protracted battle. “As the epidemic prevention level of Beijing City changes in the future, Yingke will adjust the control measures accordingly, but never stop,” says Li Zheng, Director of Board, Executive Director of Yingke Law Firm (China).
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