Coronavirus, Von Wunschheim: «reconsider the way we work and improve»

This week for initiative “how are you coping with the pandemic?” we propose the experience of Clarisse von Wunschheim, partner at Altenburger, specialized in international and cross-cultural dispute resolution, in particular international arbitration and commercial mediation with a focus on the European and Chinese market. She took part to our webinar on Covid-19 impacts in international legal market. Starting with the challenge of remaining focused at home to the scenario legal sector will have to face once the pandemic will be over, Clarisse raised some interesting points…

What the situation in Switzerland from a lawyer perspective?

Till now we have experienced an increase in labour law related questions: company having to cut down the workforce, the need to file with short time compensation or company applying for credits. We are starting to see the first contractual disputes. If we look forward, I think there will be lots of contract disputes. As a dispute resolution lawyer, I think this is the time for mediation.

So, you foresee an increase in the number of disputes once the pandemic is over…

Definitely. Courts will be overloaded and, on an international context, arbitrations will arise. These will be complex and unsatisfactory because of the legal uncertainty arising out of the varying responses from states. In my view, mediation is the way to solve these upcoming disputes, because it will require a fair case specific solution and the legal system may not be able to provide for such solution.

Have you experienced any difficulties with remote work?

Our firm switched very smoothly to home office mode thanks to our modern IT system. I think that in every crisis there is an opportunity. As I have my two kids at home, I cannot work as efficiently as I do when I am in the office, so this as an opportunity to reconsider the way we work and make improvements.

What has changed in the daily routine?

I’ve been delegating much more and I’ve been keeping in touch much more closely with our young lawyers. I have less time available from home. Remotely, finding a few hours to work on a document is much more challenging. So, I invest my limited time in our people rather than in the work itself.

What about clients?

I have been calling my clients quite a lot. I think online tools are great. Definitely, there was a need for legal industry to move towards online tools. At the same time, it is important not to lose personal contacts and doing everything via web chat is not ideal either. Thus, I also play a little old school and call my client via traditional phone call.

One thought you want to share…

You have to be prepared and adapt to whatever is coming. Experience is not what happens to you. Experience is how you react to what happens to you.

This story was collected during the LC group webinarThe international legal market in the time of coronavirus”, held on 31st March 2020.