The Coronavirus pandemic that has hit the globe is causing all of us to adjust how we live, work, and play. Lawyers are no exception to this. In order to continue to live up to the calling that requires attorneys — particularly litigators — to be custodians of our society’s ideals, there are a few things that should be done during this world-wide pandemic.
You Must Resolve Your Cases
Attorneys are called on to resolve disputes, which can be difficult during normal times. The best thing for a litigator to do is to put on his or her “closer” hat. More than ever, clients are losing income. It does not matter if you represent a plaintiff or a defendant — the downturn in the
economy affects everyone, and it is not known when the economy will bounce back from this pandemic. Clients are also in shock and disoriented. Defendants may be wanting to solely focus on business operations and not deal with lawsuits. Plaintiffs may want their lawsuit resolved sooner rather than later because of their current circumstances. Attorneys must be aware of these issues, while still balancing zealous advocacy and not selling the client short. Getting opposing counsel to come to the table is critical during this difficult time. Likewise, court dockets — which are backed up and trials delayed — will appreciate the civility employed by litigators to resolve cases.
You Must be Efficient
While the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us all to be more aware of personal hygiene, it has also forced businesses to become more efficient. The legal field, in many ways, is also a business. Law firms across the nation have transitioned to remote work for attorneys and staff alike. Attorneys — just like remote workers across the nation — are having to juggle work, family time, and schooling children. Legal work requires writing, editing, re-writing, analyzing, and researching, among other skills. While silence is key to these tasks, it is likely not available in prolonged periods right now. Using your time effectively is more critical than ever. Whether this means early mornings while the house is quiet or late evenings when everyone is in bed, squeezing in work and keeping clients up-to-date needs to happen.
Keep Using Discovery
The courts need not be involved in the discovery phase of a lawsuit — unless there is a need for motion practice or hearings due to disputes that cannot be resolved without court intervention. Use of requests for admissions (RFAs), requests for production (RFPs), interrogatories (Rogs), and depositions are ideal ways to move your case forward during this time. While depositions may be difficult due to social distancing requirements, these can be done via video conference — although, admittedly, they are not the same as in-person depositions. That being said, litigators must be patient with opposing counsel because this time requires this type of civility.
The Case Must Go On
While it is true that the global pandemic has placed us all in an unprecedented position, attorneys must continue to practice zealously for their clients while employing additional patience for those on the other side of the case. In doing so, we can maintain our obligation to our industry while still properly representing our clients.