Bradley Birmingham Office Managing Partner Dawn Helms Sharff was quoted in the Birmingham Business Journal on COVID-19's impact on the Magic City and its largest law firms.
Sharff said she thinks the food and beverage industry downtown has been hit the hardest as a result of law offices shutting down.
“My heart breaks for the restaurants and the bars and the retail businesses – the people that are the heart and soul of downtown – when there aren’t a lot of people here to go to their businesses to give them business,” Sharff said. “I can’t imagine the challenges they are facing."
“I do think until businesses like ours have most of our people back, it is going to have a real impact. We are not going out to lunch; we're eating at our desks because that is the safest thing for us to do. We are not taking clients to dinners or having client meetings at restaurants or bars after work. We’re not walking down the street on our lunch break and buying something at a shop two blocks away,” she said. “It’s real, and I worry about it.”
“Specific to downtown, I worry about businesses downsizing both their physical space and their workforce. I feel like there are going to be a lot of businesses who are going to look back at this, when we are finally out of it, and say one of the things we’ve learned is that we can be good at what we do remotely,” Sharff said. “I think that’s going to apply to all sorts of businesses, not just law firms, and when that happens, that’s going to mean fewer people driving into downtown every day, fewer people going out to places of business, less traffic downtown.”
Sharff said about 15% of Bradley employees are coming back into the office with 85% continuing to work remotely. And given the numbers, she said she doesn’t think Bradley will be moving to Phase 3 – a full return – anytime soon.
“We’re going to want to feel like the numbers in Alabama are headed in a very different direction before we tell everyone we want you back here,” she said.
Sharff said litigation is picking back up as hearings and such have moved to virtual platforms. She said Bradley has been filling gaps with Covid-related work, too, helping clients interpret contracts and get loans that are available under the CARES Act.
The original article, "COVID-19's Legal Shockwaves," appeared in the Birmingham Business Journal on July 24, 2020.