Hamilton Employment Lawyer speaks to NZ Lawyer Magazine on embracing pandemic-driven flexibility at workplaces

Standing up for the right thing has always been a strength of Jemani Sherman’s. Her mother, Rose Alchin & Associates founder Rose Alchin, was in the legal profession, and Sherman grew up with an interest in politics and law. 

Sherman would follow her mum into the industry, and join her at Rose Alchin & Associates, Hamilton based employment law specialists. While Sherman describes the firm as being “a bit late to the party” in terms of adopting tech, COVID-19 restrictions drove the firm to upgrade the way it worked – something Sherman has embraced as being beneficial to health and well-being.

In this interview with NZ Lawyer magazine, Sherman talks about her passion for litigation, the new employment relations challenges birthed by the pandemic, and her excitement for strides being made in surrogacy legislation.

You can read the full interview here.

Here are some short snippets from the interview –  

What made you choose a career in law, and what’s your favourite part of the job?

As my mum (Rose Alchin) was a lawyer already, I had grown up around others in the profession. I had always known I was good at standing up for what is right, and had always been interested in how the world works from a political and legal viewpoint.

As I commenced practice, the favourite part of my job is the litigation aspect, being on my feet in court and employment hearings.

What tech-related initiatives adopted by the firm, if any, are you most excited about?

We might be a bit late to the party, but as Rose has practiced for so long in a paper-based manner, up until this year we had all practiced this way. We have recently moved our focus to merging all our work to a digital platform, and making as much of our work electronic and paperless as possible. This has been challenging but hugely rewarding, not to mention time saving.

We have adopted various new programmes that have assisted us, and with good IT tech support, we are running more efficiently than ever before.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

With all the disruption caused by the pandemic and how the COVID-19 related restrictions impacted on how we practice, we – along with most of NZ, I suspect – were forced to adapt and embrace these new technologies and new ways of practicing. For example, in the Hamilton District Court, all participants in criminal proceedings have been required to attend their court appearances via VMR, which is an audio visual link to the court. Everyone involved in the court process, including the judge, the prosecutors, probation officers, lawyers and defendants, have been required to attend court hearings remotely.

This was at times, humorous, given the other social impacts of COVID-19 (mainly kids home from school and pets making the odd appearance) and the challenges of working from home with new technologies and poor connections. My biggest lesson I have learned during these times is that it is possible to have a far more fluid and flexible approach to the traditional methods of practice.