For this final installment of our multi-part series of interviews with Priori network attorneys on how they’ve managed the transition to working remotely during COVID, we spoke with Jonathan Richter and Greg Ewing.
Jonathan is a Los Angeles-based corporate transactional attorney, a Partner at Raines Feldman LLP and a graduate of UCLA School of Law.
Greg is a Maryland and D.C.-based corporate lawyer, a Partner of Potomac Law Group PLLC and an alum of Winston & Strawn LLP.
What was your professional background and experience before your current role?
JR: I spent one year at Fried Frank, five years at Sheppard Mullin, one and a half years at a now-defunct boutique, five years at an excellent corporate boutique, one year at a mid-size firm, and one and a half years in my current role as Partner where I manage the corporate practice group at Raines Feldman LLP.
GE: Before law school I was a software developer working for a small consulting firm that developed custom software for banks, airlines, startups, and insurance companies. After going to law school, I was an associate at Winston & Strawn LLP in Washington D.C., where I practiced in the areas of international arbitration, patent litigation, and general litigation.
Please tell us a bit about your current position and firm
JR: I am a general corporate attorney with a slant towards real estate finance and private equity. I’ve lately been doing a lot of work with PPP loans, and managing associates in the corporate practice group.
GE: I am now a partner at Potomac Law Group. Potomac prides itself in its commitments to innovation, excellence, and professionalism. As a hybrid firm with both physical and virtual offices, Potomac has been a driver in innovating legal practice, innovations that have been key to the firm's seamless transition to the COVID world.
Had you ever worked remotely before COVID? If so, please give details
JR: Yes, a day here, a few days there while sick or on vacation but never for this long a period of time.
GE: Yes, I have worked remotely since the beginning of 2019. I currently work from my home office and have access to meeting and office facilities as needed anywhere in the United States and around the world. I have found that by taking advantage of cutting-edge technology I can provide better services to my clients much more efficiently, and still have time to live my life.
How have you managed working during COVID? What challenges if any have you faced?
JR: Fortunately, there's a room in my house where I can close the door and work but it is not soundproof and the struggles of my kids to do school work remotely do sometimes come through. I'm not especially fond of Zoom but it works. I do miss daily interactions with my co-workers. Little things like saying “good morning” and “how are you” to the firm's receptionist and the sense of humor of one of the associates. I use a lot less paper than I used to, which was something I did not think I would be able to do but I adapted.
GE: The transition to the COVID world has been seamless from a professional perspective. Some of the biggest challenges have been and will continue to be how to do remotely those things that always seemed to require in-person meetings, such as depositions, interviews, or hearings. While existing tools allow a close equivalent for these types of meetings, they are not yet close enough to be the same. The trick that I believe we've mastered at Potomac is maximizing the benefits of these technologies and combining them with others to meet the same ultimate goals.
What technologies and tools do you use to enable remote work? Are any of these new or were you using them before the crisis?
JR: Zoom was new. I also have a deeper knowledge of Adobe Sign and Docusign than before, though I had used them previously. I now use the delayed send feature of Outlook more, something I did not do before. Have also been using more of the tools I still use on PC on my phone, such as WORD and XL. I find internet connections to be slow at certain times of the day, a kind of virtual traffic jam, I suppose, but mostly things work well. IT has to login remotely rather than come and fix things but I can live with that.
GE: We use typical online meeting tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Legaler, and file sharing apps like OneDrive and Box, all of which we were using in the past.
Does working remotely impact your ability to communicate with clients?
JR: It only impacts in-person meetings. I tend to avoid Zoom with clients if I can due to freezing and audio issues, which can subconsciously make a bad impression even though everyone consciously knows the score.
GE: As clients have settled into the routines and tools of remote work, the impact has dramatically decreased. The growing pains that came with most of the world suddenly switching to remote work have begun to ease and most clients seem accustomed to this new normal.
What aspects of remote work do you like the least and the most?
JR: I miss interacting with my colleagues the most. I like the convenience and really don't miss my long rush hour commutes in the evening and morning.
GE: The hardest part of remote work is being able to walk away from it at the end of the day. There is no office space that you can leave in the same way. Finding the end of the day and sticking to that therefore requires significant self-discipline that can be difficult when there is a long to-do list waiting.
If you would like to speak to Jonathan or Greg or any other corporate lawyers in the Priori network, please put in an RFP here