When COVID-19 shut down courts across the county, law firms – big and small transitioned to remote work with lightning speed. But what’s next?
Lawyers are in the business of protecting their clients. And for the past few months that protection extended to their clients’ health, in addition to the health and safety of their staff, community, and their own families. Now with state restrictions loosening and courts getting ready to reopen, law firms are also working to return to the new normal.
Postali is in the business of helping lawyers. We spoke to attorneys across the country in different legal fields, including solo practioners and those with large practices to gauge their back-to-work plans. What they shared provides a glimpse into what law firms everywhere are dealing with and how to safely reopen without forfeiting client service.
Randall & Stump, PLLC, a criminal defense and personal injury firm, based in Charlotte, North Carolina is preparing to be fully staffed for court proceedings after June 1st.
“Once North Carolina begins to loosen the current restrictions under the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, our office plans to return back to our normal operating hours, with the office fully staffed. While we will continue to conduct consultations over the phone and will likely not begin conducting office consultations immediately, we will begin meeting with current clients on an “as needed” basis to ensure we are prepared for upcoming court dates once North Carolina Courts open after June 1, 2020.”
Others like the family lawyer Jonathan Breeden at the Breeden Law Office are taking a more gradual approach to returning and are cautions of how courtrooms will look in the near future.
“I think I will continue to have my staff work from home as the state reopens and maybe will not have all people in the office at the same time for a while. We have been able to transition to working remotely fairly easily… The next few months are really a question mark. If we can go back to court, I do not believe they will have large calendar calls anymore and I think the cases will have to be peremptorily to get heard with smaller numbers of people in courtrooms. I do not believe the Courts will be like they were before this happened for a long time given the large numbers of people that would be in a single courtroom.”
At Spolin Law, a criminal appellate firm based in Los Angeles California, their practice lent itself very well to remote work and went through the pandemic with little to no interruption.
According to the firm’s founder, Aaron Spolin “Criminal appeals is primarily written work that can be done at any location (at an office, at home, etc.), so the shutdown of physical offices did not impede our work.”
When asked about how his firm used technology to help and what this could mean for the legal industry as a whole, attorney Spolin said,
“California appellate courts have been ahead-of-the-curve when it comes to e-filing versus physical filing of documents. Now I think that more and more courts are going to follow in that trend. E-filing has initial set-up costs but reduces costs for courts and law firms in the long term.”
Unfortunately, not every law firm can operate with such limited personal interaction. For Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. in Chicago they pride themselves on individual attention. Despite making it through COVID-19, they are anxious to return to the office – albeit with safety in mind.
Head attorney Jared Staver explained:
“I think our firm has done an excellent job working remotely since the stay at home order was mandated. The various technologies we’ve used have helped us stay on top of all our cases and have allowed us to communicate with insurance adjusters, clients, other attorneys, and each other fairly easily and without much difficulty.
“However, when the stay at home order is lifted, we will likely all return to the office. This is especially true and necessary once the courts open back up. Currently the cases we have in litigation are somewhat on hold, with court calls, depositions, arbitrations, trials, etc. set to pick up in a heap once the stay at home order is lifted. All those things require a personal presence.”
The unpredictable nature of COVID-19 and constraints of social distancing has put many lawyers in the delicate position of revamping their operations while maintaining the health of themselves, their employees, and their clients. There’s no playbook for exactly how attorneys should return to work and many firms are left to figure out what works best for their practice. At Postali, we are here to help you find those solutions.