View from the postroom
19 July 2010 | By Matt Byrne
Two months after its marriage the newly merged Hogan Lovells is still very much in getting-to-know-you mode.
But one area where this will not need much work is the postroom, where one of the firm’s longest-serving members of backroom staff makes it his business to keep communications flowing smoothly.
Hogan Lovells messenger Bernie Finn went to work at legacy firm Lovells for a day and ended up staying 11 years. At the time he was working as a motorbike dispatch rider for a courier company. Lovells called saying it needed a contract rider for a day. Finn was the biker who got the call.
“I called the [courier] controller and as I was the first to call and the nearest to Lovells I was allocated the job,” recalls Finn. “I was asked to come back the next day and by the end of the week I was approached by the office manager and offered the position of full-time contract rider.”
Finn stayed for two years, running messages and deliveries and taking general internal documents to places such as the Temple or to clients. Then, after
a couple of years, a job in the postroom came up. Finn went for the job, got it, and waved goodbye to the world of the motorcycle courier forever.
“By that time I’d been a dispatch rider for nearly 19 years,” says Finn. “I was 42 years old and had lost all interest in riding motorcycles for work and pleasure.”
Finn admits that being a courier had the benefit of providing quite a flexible life.
“You experience all the different emotions all through the day,” he relates. “It could be happiness if the sun’s shining or fright if someone pulls out in front of you. The postroom’s much more predictable and steady. I wasn’t sure if I could adapt at first.”
But having made up his mind to go for the change, Finn soon settled into life in the postroom.
“Nine years later I’m still working in the Hogan Lovells general office,” he adds.
A typical day starts with the post coming in to be sorted by the 13 staff. They put the partner post into racks, while the post for other lawyers also goes to designated partners, which helps keep them in the loop.
Finn’s role has developed from simply sorting the post to offering a more comprehensive service tailored to the requirements of the staff. That could involve tracking things down when they go missing or taking responsibility for making sure things arrive at their destination. It also involves finding the most cost-effective way of doing this.
“We’re trying to expand the role all the time,” explains Finn. “The firm encourages all employees to be proactive in their respective roles and is always keen to receive feedback.”
Finn recognises that, as the role of the general office has evolved since he joined back in 2002, the accountability of the individual messengers in the department has also grown.
“There’s more structure in the ’run times’, more records kept of what’s been delivered and received and more infrastructure than when I joined,” says Finn.
Indeed, Finn adds that the job itself has given his own life a bit more structure.
“When you’re self-employed, as I was when I was a courier, you don’t tend to take holidays,” he says. “If you take a week off you don’t get paid. Now I get five weeks holiday.”
That additional freedom has finally allowed Finn to start enjoying riding one of his four motorbikes again.
“I’m 50 now,” he says. “When I was a courier I was riding nine hours a day and I wasn’t riding for pleasure any more. Now I ride every day. I’ve rekindled my passion for motorcycles and I ride my Triumph every opportunity I get.”