It’s not just bankruptcy lawyers whose practices are booming these days.
Lawyers in areas ranging from healthcare to helping employers reconfigure their offices are also in high demand.
“From advising employers how to respond when an employee tests positive for coronavirus to counseling employees afraid of catching it at the office, lawyers are working around the clock to help clients navigate the uncharted legal waters sparked by the rapidly spreading COVID-19,” according to the ABA Journal. “Some law firms have created multidisciplinary task forces to assist clients, both domestic and international, in tackling the myriad challenges posed by the pandemic.”
Complicating the situation: even as attorneys are working harder than ever for their clients, they’re struggling to deal with unprecedented stress in their own firms and personal lives.
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Here are some highlights from the ABA Journal article, “The High Demand for Lawyers Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
- Law firms are forming new response teams. Early on in the crisis, BakerHostetler and Alston & Bird organized in-house coronavirus task forces drawing on lawyers in different practice areas from employment law to real estate.
- Businesses large and small are clamoring for legal advice. “‘There was really an immediate need by our clients for information on how to address in real time these very unusual circumstances,’” says one New York-based business lawyer in the ABA Journal piece. “Many employers have inquired about how to treat employees who demonstrate symptoms of coronavirus or have been exposed to others diagnosed with COVID-19.” Other pressing concerns: helping employers comply with CDC guidelines and Family and Medical Leave Act requirements.
- Businesses need help designing policy and procedure manuals. Some key provisions: “A description of how the business of the organization will continue in the event of a temporary closure, government shutdown or furlough. A remote work policy that allows the continuation of operations while employees work from home. Additional cleaning or sanitization services, along with the provision of soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to ensure a safe workspace. Continual communications to the workforce that provide up-to-date, accurate information on best practices and precautions for protecting oneself against COVID-19.”
- Workers need representation. “Lawyers who represent employees say they too have been fielding a steady stream of questions from workers about the implications of coronavirus, particularly as it relates to the safety of their workplaces.”
- Healthcare attorneys are in high demand. Issues include: advising doctors, hospitals and medical institutions on pertinent guidelines; providing counsel to local public health authorities; offering guidance on patient confidentiality.
- Law firms are trying to find their own path forward. Some have resumed working in their offices. Some have shifted to 100 percent remote work. Others are using a hybrid workforce.
- A cascade of law work will flow for years to come. As a result of the economic havoc wrought by COVID, lawyers in certain fields will have no shortage of ongoing work. These fields include mergers and acquisitions, business law, litigation finance, debt restructuring, and litigation over contracts, canceled events and supply chain disruptions.
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, a training and consulting company that helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441.