Red zone offers a 'fillip'

A STATE OF FLUX: Julian Clarke, managing partner at law firm Cavell Leitch gets reacquainted with the firm’s documents.
A STATE OF FLUX: Julian Clarke, managing partner at law firm Cavell Leitch gets reacquainted with the firm’s documents.

Law firm Cavell Leitch's 80 staff are comfortably settled in ground floor offices at Hazeldean Business Park, after being shaken from the 14th, 15th and 16th floors of the Clarendon Towers building they occupied on February 22.

Initially the firm's 80 staff worked from their  homes as well as the firm's Riccarton office, until it secured new premises at Hazeldean Business Park.

The firm made seven people redundant after the earthquake, reducing staff numbers to 72 as lack of access to its files rendered some roles at the firm unnecessary.

Managing partner Julian Clarke said the firm has a six-year lease for its new offices.

Eventually the firm was able to use a crane to recover about half of its files. Clarke said  tens of thousands of documents had been scattered non-alphabetically on the floor. The physical loss of files meant the firm had had to do a lot of extra work that it often couldn't charge for, to recreate documents.

The market was in a state of flux for some time. There had been an initial splurge of work in commercial property, followed by the Government's red zoning of properties and clients needed legal services around that.

That had been a real fillip, Clarke said.

Workloads had been volatile. Family law had suffered. There had been a large increase in the number of people with relationship problems ''sorting things out for themselves'' because they were unable to sell their home.

Keeping key staff and maintaining business networks were challenging.

Cavell Leitch recently picked up the New Zealand Lexis Nexus award for the best mid-sized law firm in the country, based on client votes. Now workloads have increased and staff numbers are back up to 80.

The Press