NextGen Diaries: Sophie Moonshine

13 Jul 2020

My own lockdown experience started a few days before the official lockdown, as I happened to be working from home already in my flat in north London to have some building work done. Five weeks into lockdown, Memery Crystal put on a well-being webinar and we were shown the Kubler-Ross curve which shows the stages of coming to terms with change (shock, denial, frustration, depression, experiment, decision and integration). We all completed a poll stating which stage we were at – I think at points during this time I have felt a range of all of those hourly. We are now a few months in and have experienced keeping at a 2 metre distance and panic buying yeast, yet there has been a change in the tide in the way that our politicians, peers and employers are talking about lockdown and many of us are thinking how the next stage will affect us in our professional and personal lives.

Easing into lockdown was pretty seamless at Memery Crystal; we were well prepared and there was an enforced “practice” work from home day to prepare. Everyone had a laptop ready, diverted phones and the necessary equipment. Since then, converting all internal processes which were not already electronic has been rapid and our IT team have worked hard to quickly iron out any teething problems. Bi-weekly yoga, regular departmental zoom calls, wellbeing webinars, quizzes and weekly emails from our Chief Executive have kept morale high and shown us how important it is that we work together – not only as a department, but as a firm. The willingness to adapt at all levels across Memery Crystal has been so impressive, and considering many have been under pressure to home-school children, the teamwork element has been an absolute lifeline.

The sudden shift in everyday life has had a huge impact on our clients, and particularly those who operate in the office and retail sectors. We have been on hand to deal with our landlord and tenant clients who have had to respond to the Covid landscape. We have been documenting agreements regarding rent, drafting specific pandemic related clauses in property contracts, analysing the new legislation to deal with commercial rent arrear recovery and discussing new ways to deal with ongoing management of buildings. Aside from legal advice, our commercial understanding has been key for our clients during this difficult time.

Our real estate team have been on the pulse, responding to the rapidly changing legislation and engaging in the discussion about the future of the real estate market amidst a pandemic. We sense that there is strong appetite for our clients to bounce back once the banks are able to support them.

There will always be conflicting ideas about the future of the real estate market and it will be interesting to see how the effect on the market plays out in the coming months and years. What this crisis has taught me is that amongst the multitude of diverse predictions and opinions, it has clearly highlighted our ability to react and adapt, and the property market is being forced to do the same. For example, whether the need for serviced offices takes a nosedive as the huge surge in more flexible work streams enables work from home to become the new normal – landlords will need to be well equipped to predict workable solutions.

Sophie Moonshine

Solicitor at Memery Crystal