Reflections on an Unprecedented Year
Dear colleagues, clients and friends,
I cannot believe that it has been a year since Bates shut down our offices and moved to a fully remote workforce. What a challenging time 2020/2021 has been in so many ways. The challenges and fears we have confronted are numerous: illness and death, unemployment, racial injustice protests, political upheaval, weather disasters, business disruption, isolation from family and friends, cancellation of vacations, holidays and celebrations, homeschooling while working full-time, and uncertainty. Moreover, we have all had our personal struggles in addition to those faced on a national and global level. My heart goes out to everyone—I want to acknowledge the hardship for all and express my heartfelt concern.
As I reflected on the changes we worked through this last year, I thought it most important to first recognize the challenges and to note that they, and their effects, are still ongoing and may continue for years. In my mind this cannot be underscored enough: we must appreciate the long-term impact of these events and acknowledge the impact they have had on our family, colleagues, and friends.
One thing I do know is that the Bates team has a long history of adapting to change, and our newer team members have embodied this skill as well. This is a strength that I believe reinforces our success. And, even though this year was unprecedented and fraught with challenges, I am proud to say the underlying character of our team to adapt and find success in change continues! As I mentioned a year ago, our IT team successfully (and with very few interruptions) transitioned us to a fully remote workforce. Throughout the year, they have identified and implemented new tools to help us communicate as a team, and they continue to improve our cyber strength and maintain an environment of growth and success. Our People and Culture team has created fun virtual events to bring us together, including GIF battles, Drag Queen Bingo, and Trivia competitions (one of our employees is a Jeopardy champion, so no one has a chance), as well as all-staff meetings and weekly newsletters to promote constant and transparent communication. They also created a safe space for us to learn about, participate in and discuss issues around culture, race and equity, and mental health. Our operations team implemented systems upgrades and has worked diligently to ensure smooth office operations under the new remote environment. Our Practice Leaders revamped meetings and processes to ensure their teams were fully supported and would continue to provide the high-quality services and work product that our clients expect from Bates. They also worked with our Business Development team, keeping them in close contact with our clients to meet their needs during this challenging time. All the while, our Marketing team increased and broadened our digital communications and engagement efforts to bring our clients critical service information, industry developments through our news blogs, regulatory and compliance alerts, white papers, and Bates-produced CLE webinars. Finally, our staff rallied together with the tremendous support outlined above and were able to continue to work with each other and our clients with authenticity and perseverance, despite the challenges and uncertainty in the world. We all genuinely lived up to our company values of Dedication, Integrity, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Forward-Thinking, and Excellence. I fully believe that we are now closer as a team, and we see and interact with each other more often than we did pre-COVID.
With all that said, for me, this past year has emphasized the following: I am proud of the Bates team and their families; I am grateful for the support our team provides to their colleagues and our clients; I am fortunate to work with the caliber of talent that is Bates, and I am delighted that we provide services in an industry with incredible individuals and professionals. We have learned and found strength from our clients and the industry as we navigated the year.
A lifeline for me this year were the many moments of grace and laughter I experienced with all of you. I hope you were able to find such moments as well.
Jennifer Stout, CEO