Like all of you we have continued to battle our way through this unprecedented national emergency which has included, for many of us, learning new skills.

We have continued to provide the same 24/7 365 day access we have always provided and in addition to supporting those of you who instruct us in the usual way, we have also provided help and support with business related queries in relation to furlough and even simply sharing supplier contacts when sadly some suppliers have gone out of business.

There are signs of a return to normality or whatever the new normal will look like and we will no doubt make greater use of technology faster than we would otherwise have done. There is no doubt that many will also take a different view of flexible working with the whole country having being forced into a pilot scheme proving it can work, and thereby removing some of the stigma that has hindered such initiatives, particularly for those with caring responsibilities and those with disabilities. For others there is a huge desire to get back into the office where they feel they can be most effective and productive which for some will be connected to their wellbeing. Flexibility and openness are key.

Whatever the new normal will be rest assured we will adapt to whatever you need from us. We have as of this week started the process for a gradual return to an onsite presence. All our offices have been risk assessed and we have social distancing systems in place in our reception and admin areas. We have introduced special measures for in person conferences across all offices some of which are already taking place.

In addition I am pleased to inform you that we have set up virtual court rooms on our premises that can link in to courts and tribunals across the country which have been designed for those occasions where travel and in person attendance at court buildings are problematic. This I am sure will be part of the new normal as will an increased use of arbitration, mediation and other methods to ensure the wheels keep turning as we unite in our efforts across all branches and sectors of the profession to help with the rebuilding process.

We are placing the safety of our clients, members and staff at the core of a strategy to a return to the new normal. We are mindful of the fact that a vaccine for COVID 19 has yet to be found and, whilst embracing the new ways of working, we are very much looking forward to the increase in pace the reducing of restrictions will bring.

Tony McDaid - CEO and Director of Clerking at No5 Barristers' Chambers