How the world reopens post COVID-19 is something on everyone’s mind. Most people are struggling to weigh the lack of adequate testing and the lack of vaccine immediately available with the overwhelming sense that lock down just can’t go on for forever. And figuring out exactly how the legal profession will open back up is something currently being worked on.
The New York State Bar Association has taken the stance that law firms should open up even before other non-essential businesses and has created a “Restarting the Economy Working Group” to make recommendations to policymakers on “the safest and most efficient way for law firms to reopen.”
Hank Greenberg, the president of the state bar and a partner at Greenberg Traurig, told Law.com that getting lawyers back in their offices is a top priority:
“It’s not Hank Greenberg just beating the drum for lawyers,” he said in a Wednesday interview. “The rule of law is dependent on lawyers. We are the footsoldiers of the Constitution. We are utterly vital and essential to society.”
Of course, like lots of white-collar workers, lawyers are, by and large, able to work from home. But Greenberg believes that there is something important about getting the door back open:
“It is absolutely true that we can do a lot of our work remotely … and I think we will continue to do a lot of our work remotely,” he continued. But “from an economic perspective, having the legal profession be able to function, survive the crisis, and flourish is critical. If lawyers can’t work, if lawyers can’t make a living, if lawyers are not in a position to help clients, that is a direct threat to the vibrancy of the rule of law.”
David Schraver, of counsel at Nixon Peabody and a member of the working group, said safety would be paramount as they deal with the different office spaces of different size firms across the state:
“One of the issues is that there are so many different types of law offices across the state,” he said. “There are large firms in multistory buildings that have conference rooms of all different sizes and shapes, and there are solo and small-firm practices across the state that have much different kinds of offices.”
He also noted it is too early to know what recommendations the working group would make.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).
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